When Jaguar launched its F-Type models in 2013 there was finally a sports car from the British brand to take on the establishment headlined by the Porsche 911.
Of course, the Jag was anything but the precision tool its German counterpart offers, relying instead on front-engine, rear-wheel-drive dynamics and the theatrics of growling supercharged V6 and V8 engines.
The latter required that you treat it with the utmost respect, caress the throttle to get the best out of it and avoid getting giddy with the controls lest it send you barrelling into hedges.
For many, the V6 was always the sweeter of the models, dishing out just the right amount of power at the driver’s disposal. This has remained true. However the inclusion of the all-wheel-drive V8 variants — including the SVR — has made the more powerful model a much more civil, yet savage animal to live with.
While both the V6 and V8 have moved upstream in pricing — both costing on the wrong side of R1-million — they have decidedly left a niche in the sub-R1-million mark, where Porsche’s 718 Boxster and Cayman reside.
Now the British marque has set its cat among the pigeons in the form of the F-Type 2.0-litre.
Yes, the F-Type can now be ordered with a four-cylinder turbocharged engine and you might be wondering “what are they thinking?”
Thankfully there is method to the madness and the new Ingenium engine offers the F-Type experience and ownership to a wider audience that might be happy to forgo the bigger engines but still have the slick, good looks of the model.
While the engine might not be the most muscular in its segment, it pushes out a credible 221kW and 400Nm via the eight-speed automatic gearbox driving the rear wheels.
Cosmetically, the model still offers all the styling hallmarks that have made it such an endearing thing to behold. The major cosmetic differences can be seen at the rear, where the 2.0-litre variant boasts a centrally mounted tailpipe.
We were let lose on the Kyalami racetrack where the company was at pains to prove that the lesser-endowed model wasn’t lacking in the dynamic or power departments.
We also put it through its paces around a gymkhana to see how it fares in the agility stakes. I can report that the 2.0-litre variant sparkles.
Thanks to less weight on the front axle and the smaller and lighter engine, the vehicle darted through the gymkhana with a superb level of agility.
Then it was on to the main track to see how capable the engine is and whether it can exploit the sorted chassis to maximum effect.
While the engine decidedly suffers from turbo lag from the off, it does manage to get going fairly well once past that twi-light zone.
Then there is the handling and steering feedback, and on both counts it is well sorted. You can get on the power early without the fear of the rear coming around to bite you and this new entry model is all the F-Type most people require. – Lerato Matebese