Two things, above all, needed proving as I took to the quiet, sinuous roads of Warwickshire, sitting in the passenger seat of the latest four-cylinder Jaguar F-Type with ‘Jaguarness’ guru Mike Cross at the wheel.
One was that it was quick enough to honestly be classed as a serious performance Jaguar; the other that it sounded like it.
Proof came quickly. The rear wheels chirped and then big thrust instantly established itself in the small of my back, relieved in five or six nano-instants as the Quickshift gearbox picked up the next ratio at 6500rpm.
The noise was different from the seamless, racebred yowl of Jaguar’s V6 - gruffer and tougher, with a slightly hoarse throb that sounded powerful - and about as far away from expectations of a 2.0-litre four-pot as it’s possible to get. I really liked it.
After a few minutes, Cross voiced my own opinion: that this car had more power than a decent driver could reasonably use on public roads in Britain. With all those ratios and all that low-down torque, the F-Type seemed to respond instantly to any demand, and with an inspiring sound. You could hear the engineering and I was impressed.
If I were a buyer in 2017, I’m still not certain I’d have the courage to opt for the four-pot over a proven mill that’s only a bit more expensive and 50% bigger, even though I’d doubtless feel I should. Yet, as Cross pointed out, downsizing is the future, even in cars this performance-focused.