Practically speaking, the difference between the 380 and 400 engines seems mostly a matter of nomenclature; the simple truth appears to be that 400 sounds better. The 400's fuel economy (32.9mpg combined) and CO2 output (203g/ km) figures are also identical to those of the 380.
Jaguar isn’t revealing its plans for the longer term, but it seems fair to forecast that after the 400 Sport’s debut has given mid-range F-Type sales a hoped-for boost later this year, the 400 engine might become a regular production version.
Elsewhere, the 400 Sport’s specification offers improved value to the performance driver compared with standard cars. The automatic and its transmission paddles are standard, the all-independent suspension (by double wishbones and coils, both ends) includes Super Performance all-disc brakes (380mm rotors in front, 375mm at the back) and there’s a standard configurable dynamics set-up that allows the driver to select individual, favourite settings for the throttle, transmission, steering effort and damper rates. The car gets handsome five-spoke 20in alloys as standard, finished in satin grey, and there’s a standard mechanical limited-slip differential.
What's it like?
Talking looks, the 400 Sport is very much its own car.
On one hand, it gets the early benefit of the upgrades planned for the whole F-Type range, such as the new, thinner seats that improve dash-to-backrest space and look a lot racier while maintaining comfort.
On the other, there’s a unique combination of features: you can only buy a 400 Sport in three body colours – black, white or silver – and the car gets a Sport Design pack of body add-ons comprising a more prominent front splitter, blade-like extended side sills and a prominent rear diffuser.
The black leather interior gets yellow double-stitching on the seats and doors, and there’s a 400 Sport logo on the seats, dashboard, steering wheel and door treadplates. The thicker-rimmed, smaller-diameter, flat-bottomed steering wheel, normally an option, is standard. Anodised aluminium gearshift paddles make a good finished touch.
On the road, the 400 Sport goes hard. The sub-5.0sec 0-60mph time is effortlessly delivered. With 339lb ft of torque developed from 3500rpm, plus gearchanges quicker than any mortal could make them, the car storms to 100mph and stays strong beyond that speed, with the engine emitting its characteristic smooth and surprisingly high wail, edgier as it gets into the lower 5000rpm range.
Jaguar development engineer Mike Cross says you can feel a benefit from the 400 engine’s extra 20bhp right at the top end, but given that the 400 Sport has an impressive supply of gear ratios and plenty of low-end torque, the feeling is elusive. And the car is very nearly as fast if you let it change itself at around 5000rpm as if you redline it on the paddles.