So let’s see. The V6s and V8s in F-Types usually fire with a real visceral bark, spinning up to around 3000rpm. Apparently, they all do it, these engines, even in Range Rovers, and need to, as part of a clean start process. But the exhausts just make the sports cars far more audible. The four-pot is that bit more restrained, as you’d expect. If you have easily irritated neighbours and early starts, perhaps this is the version for you.
If you like your sports cars or GT cars to sound rich, powerful and expensive, though, perhaps it isn’t. How best to describe the sound? Very obviously not a V6 or a V8, I suppose, which is the trouble with fours.
The combustion note of a four, especially a turbocharged one that doesn’t rev to the heavens is, typically, so plain that you’re left chasing tricks to try to up the ante. It has worked here, to an extent. There’s an active exhaust, and some pops and burbles on the overrun if you flick the switchable exhaust’s mode to angry. There’s some semi-raucous growl as you accelerate, too. And there’s some sound augmentation through the loudspeakers, although it’s so subtle that you’ll hardly realise it’s there. Look, it sounds fine. But it sounds like a four-pot and, as with a Porsche 718, that’s just not very exciting.
There’s ‘nowt wrong with the power delivery, mind you. Peak torque comes in early, from just 1500rpm, and hangs around until 4500rpm. Peak power is only at 5500rpm, so this isn’t a car you need to thrash to get the best from it. It mates well with the auto gearbox, although it would be interesting to try it without because decent auto ’boxes – and this eight-speed is one – can mask inconsistencies in engine response. But this is good.
Jaguar claims a 0-60mph time of 5.4sec, which I don’t doubt the car will do, but it seldom feels like a five-something car. Anyway, you can add 0.3sec to that for the 62mph time, which leaves the Jaguar in the territory of the Honda Civic Type R, a car that is not only more powerful and lighter, but also nearly £20k cheaper. A coupé isn’t the place to go if you like studying statistics.
But, then, it never was. It isn’t with a Toyota GT86, which looks poor value next to a hot hatchback but is still a car you should buy over one. A coupé should give you the knowledge that this bespoke package was designed specifically to make you feel all gooey inside, because it’s better than any saloon-derived car to look at (which is true here), sit in (which is true here) and drive. So let’s come to that.
Soon after you set off, the decrease in weight at the nose is discernible, even if it has been a while since you drove a bigger-engined F-Type. Front and rear spring rates have been reduced by 4% and 3% respectively. The valving of the dampers has also been adjusted and Jaguar’s engineers will tell you this is as much about learning from what they’ve done to other F-Types as it is about optimising for this particular car’s weight. They’ve just got better at tuning it, in short.
And they’ve tuned it well. The ride is composed, secure and damped with a pleasing honesty and consistency. Potholes don’t crash, crests and bumps don’t make it float or sag. And the F-Type turns with conviction – although it hardly felt nose heavy before – and true agility.
The F-Type’s electric power steering remains smooth and slick, accurate and responsive. At least, it does until you notice it has a bizarre, and unusual, tramlining, mostly under braking, where the steering gives small but frequent little tugs at the wheel, like a fish threatening a bite on a fishing rod.
The steering gets its own tune for the 2.0, and there’s torque vectoring – which can brake an inside rear wheel to mitigate understeer – but, still, I’d be astonished if the tramlining was the intentional result of that. Pity. Maybe it’s tyres, or pressures, or something about those roads, but all the test cars did it, so it wasn’t just one badly set-up car.