From £55,3858
Having been previously impressed by the agile four-cylinder F-Type, now is our chance to try it in the UK and in open-top form. But can this entry-level Jaguar sports car hold off the impressive Porsche Boxster?

Our Verdict

Jaguar F-Type Convertible

The Jaguar F-Type convertible provides direct competition to the 718 Boxster and the 911 Cabriolet, but can the big cat take a bite out of its Porsche rivals?

16 August 2017

What is it?

Jaguar’s new entry-level F-Type convertible is a fairly radical departure for the brand. Although Jaguar has been producing cars with four-cylinder engines since the launch of the X-Type diesel, this is the first time one of its sports cars has been sent into battle with such an apparent deficit of cylinders and capacity.

The new turbocharged 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine certainly isn’t short of firepower; Jaguar Land Rover’s chief engineer, Mike Cross, is keen to point out that the peak 296bhp is slightly higher than that of the XJ-S, made from a 5.3-litre V12 in the early 1990s.

Although it boasts improved economy and reduced emissions, the 2.0-litre F-Type’s main role is to give a cheaper entry point. The Coupé, which we have previously driven, slips under £50,000 in the unoptioned form that nobody will actually buy it in, but the convertible – sampled here in the UK for the first time – carries a £5485 supplement in basic form. Meaning that, despite some chunky price increases from Porsche, it is still £10,000 more than the similarly powerful Boxster 2.0-litre

What's it like?

A drive on some of the same North Wales roads that the development team made extensive use of gives the entry-level F-Type a chance to shine. While the new engine can’t match the experience of the V6s or V8s fitted to pricier F-Types, its relative lack of power actually makes it easier to drive the car hard and is considerably less intimidating as the limits approach.

The brawnier F-Types are fast and thrilling, but they can really struggle to find traction in anything less than perfect conditions. The new 2.0-litre engine isn’t lacking torque, with the peak 295lb ft available from just 1500rpm, but this can be fully deployed with the chassis’s full indulgence and with none of the stability control intervention that the more powerful versions tend to experience in slower stuff. Indeed, the new engine can be pushed impressively hard with the stability in its more permissive Sport mode or even switched off without ever feeling wayward.

The engine isn’t a natural sports car powerplant, but Jaguar’s development team has hidden its foibles well. It isn’t particularly keen to rev, with little obvious point taking it past the 5500rpm at which peak power arrives. We noticed that the limiter, which you only find in Dynamic mode and with the gearbox under manual control, is set to 6750rpm in first and second, but 6500rpm in higher ratios. But the standard eight-speed ZF autobox does an excellent job of shifting slickly under direct control while working seamlessly to keep the engine in its broad mid-range when left in Drive or Sport mode. Cross says there are no plans to offer the four-cylinder with the manual gearbox that is a little-chosen option with the V6 engine.

The other obvious difference of the smaller powerplant comes through the mass it saves. On Jaguar’s numbers, it is 52kg lighter than the V6, with almost all of that weight shaved from the front end. The result is that the 2.0-litre feels markedly more agile in slower corners, more willing to turn in or to change direction and yet equally planted when asked to deal with the faster stuff. Ultimate grip levels are below those of the more powerful F-Types, but the 2.0-litre feels more exploitable and, for want of a better descriptor, more thrashable.

The four-cylinder’s entry-level status means it is only available with passive dampers and sits on slightly softer springs. It feels impressively pliant, but there’s also a small amount of float to be discerned over rougher surfaces. The feel and response of the steel brakes is excellent, and the direct steering remains one of the better-feeling electrically assisted systems.

Lowering the F-Type convertible’s fabric hood makes its lack of aural character more obvious. As with the 718 Boxster, it’s the most obvious penalty brought by downsizing. And although the 2.0-litre has a rorty exhaust note and even some ECU-ordered pops and bangs when the throttle is lifted with the exhaust in its louder mode, none of this masks what is still clearly a four-cylinder soundtrack - something that seems incongruous in a Jaguar sports car. The fact that it is the most substantive criticism indicates how convincing the rest of the car is. 

Should I buy one?

While a smaller engine and lower pricing broaden the F-Type’s appeal, it remains a car ploughing a lonely furrow, especially compared with obvious rivals. Choosing the 2.0i convertible cuts £3700 over the price of the equivalent 3.0 V6 auto in both standard and R-Dynamic trim, with the prospect of some significant fuel economy improvement as well. While that’s a useful saving, it’s not one that radically alters the F-Type’s case when considered against that pesky Porsche Boxster

2017 Jaguar F-Type Convertible 2.0 i4 R-Dynamic

Where Snowdonia, Wales; On sale September 2017; Price £59,085; Engine 1997cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol; Power 296bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1500-4500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd auto; Kerbweight 1545kg; Top speed 155mph; 0-62mph 4.7sec; Fuel economy 39.2mpg; CO2 rating 163g/km; Rivals Porsche Boxster

Join the debate

Comments
21

16 August 2017

Is it really £10,000 more than an identically spec'd Porsche Boxer 2.0 litre? 

Also, what a great stat - a 5.3 litre V12 had a lower output than a modern 2.0 litre.

17 August 2017
Hedonist wrote:

Is it really £10,000 more than an identically spec'd Porsche Boxer 2.0 litre? 

Also, what a great stat - a 5.3 litre V12 had a lower output than a modern 2.0 litre.

they forgot to mention that everything apart from the steering wheel is a optional extra.

17 August 2017
Hedonist wrote:

Is it really £10,000 more than an identically spec'd Porsche Boxer 2.0 litre? 

Also, what a great stat - a 5.3 litre V12 had a lower output than a modern 2.0 litre.

they forgot to mention that everything apart from the steering wheel is a optional extra.

16 August 2017

Kerbweight 1545kg

 

16 August 2017

Another poor quality review from Autocar.

What is the real world fuel economy?

16 August 2017

I'd rather have the Jag than a Porsche any day, even with a £10k surcharge on the price

16 August 2017
inside_man wrote:

I'd rather have the Jag than a Porsche any day, even with a £10k surcharge on the price

Why, as a matter of interest?  I'm not criticising your choice, but I've owned both and much prefer the greater agility of the Boxster.  The F-type was just too wide for threading along UK B-roads, so more of a GT than a sports car.  I'm not at all convinced by this new engine in the F-Type.  Likewise, I much prefer the NA flat-six in my 981, so won't be changing if for a 718 turbo four anytime soon.

17 August 2017
inside_man wrote:

I'd rather have the Jag than a Porsche any day, even with a £10k surcharge on the price

Same here. The Jaguar just is just so much better and desirable looking inside and out, while it's the way it makes you feel just having one, whether sitting in it or driving it. The Boxster is clinical and soulless, it's like listening to a MP3 recording rather than being at the gig itself. I'd even pick the F-Type over a 911 any day of the week for the same reasons.

16 August 2017

I cannot see the point in JLR persisting with the preposterous pretence of RRP. The kind of new discounts available on F-Type serve only to build in massive depreciation. I presume that it's irrelevant to the 'PCP Brigade' who just want to get in & out over 36 months with affordable monthly figures...and the rest can go hang. Someone somewhere is taking a hit. I suspect, in the end, it's JLR's reputation for over-pricing product, poor residual management  and the F-type's perception as "not entirely serious" that'll take the hit.

BertoniBertone

16 August 2017

If you sell it to cheap people think it's an inferior product.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

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