Lacey Elliott: The Jaguar F-Type is a real race car. A machine that you can’t help but want to drive and drive hard. Available as a coupe or a convertible, both have been designed to impress whoever sits behind the wheel. Updates over the years have managed to make this impressive car, even more so. 2017 saw the addition of an entry-level 4-cylinder. It is a simpler car than most of the others in the F line up. Lighter and more affordable, yet still has the DNA we have grown to love from this brand.
Dan Heyman: “Drive hard”. I like that. With looks like that, there’s no denying that the F-Type is designed to make an impression, both at a standstill and while exercising on your favorite backroad. What really strikes me is that “curbside” thing; this may just be the best looking car on the mass market. Heck, while there may be a few rolling works of art from the likes of Pagani and McLaren, the F-Type even has the lines to do battle with boutique brands on the styling front. Even in black like our tester, it really is that good. The question is: can it walk the walk?
LE: Jaguar describes the F-Type as “Powerful, agile, and utterly distinctive.” Its long hood, short rear deck, wide stance, and strong, simple lines are sexy. Something that Porsche and Mercedes can’t quite duplicate.
With the top up or down, this car receives a lot of attention. Several people took the time to stop and comment. Many are curious about the engine, power, and driving dynamics. It is a Jaguar after all! The conversation was silenced when I told them what was under the hood; they stepped back and just tried to absorb what I said.
It takes a bit of effort to notice that this Jaguar only has a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine under its hood. New badging for 2019 gives this vehicle the nameplate P300. Since it only has 296hp, it is pushing 300. P340 means pushing 340 horses and so on. Look closely, and you will see that other than the P300 badging, the only thing separating it from the rest of the F family is a single exhaust outlet in the back.
My vehicle this week is in Santorini Black. It is one of the metallic color choices that are $670 upgrade. Jaguar’s base, Narvik Black, is flatter. Another choice to be made, both at no extra cost is the brakes and calipers. 350mm front rotors with silver calipers or 380mm with black. A metallic black Jag with black calipers? Simply perfection in my opinion.
A solid, carbon fiber or glass roof can be chosen for the coupe. The standard roof on the convertible is Ebony color. It is fully electric. Three other shades are available for an additional $720.
The interior is lavish. Everything inside has the F-type DNA. For 2019, a 10-inch infotainment system comes as standard equipment.
With only two seats, don’t expect very much regarding interior space. However, Jaguar has done a phenomenal job of making it feel roomier than it is. My only travel companion this week was a girlfriend. We never felt squished or uncomfortable. The sports seats that come as standard deliver a high level of comfort. Performance seats are available if you prefer. However, I always find them geared toward sports and not so much for luxury.
The trunk has just over 7 cubic feet of storage. This is enough space to hold groceries, golf clubs or my luggage for a weekend getaway. No complaints from me. A perfectly functional car for one or two. No one buying a car like this will mistake it for a minivan.
DH: While the F-Type does come in more retina-searing colours, I have to agree with Lacey: even in metallic black, this is a standout. Its low cowl and rear deck – plus those black wheels – make it appear properly low to the ground with the top down. With the top up, the image changes a bit but that’s the case with most convertibles. Would a folding hardtop been a better choice? Maybe, but you see how small the trunk is and that would’ve likely made things worse. Plus, many will argue – as Mercedes does for most of its convertibles – that a proper drop top should have a soft hood. Add the weight savings allowed by going for canvas instead of something else, and you can see why the soft top makes sense. Especially with the weight savings provided by dropping two (or four) cylinders, you can see why a hard top just wouldn’t do.
ON THE ROAD
LE: A few of the men sneer when they hear this is a 4-cylinder. I mentioned earlier it only has 296hp; I forgot to mention that it is an impressive 296. This is the most powerful 4-cylinder that Jaguar has put into a production car. This cat can make the run from 0-100km/hour in just 5.7 seconds. Nothing to laugh at with numbers like that.
Weighing in at under a ton and a half, this F-type weighs less than its V6 and V8 siblings. Because the engine is smaller, it placed slightly back in the engine bay. This means that there is less weight on the front axles. The benefit of this is noticeable. Impressive agility, road grip, and balance. Steering is exceptional and razor sharp. Throw in some aggressive cornering and there is not a hint of body roll. Even the brakes have a smooth, solid feel to them.
All power is delivered to the rear wheels. No AWD drive is available with this version. The very quick shifting and impressively smooth 8-speed ZF transmission moves this cat quickly. Using the paddle shifters is the best way to utilize the power. Many people might be disappointed. No traditional manual transmission is offered at all. Not me. Finding the right points to switch gears in this shiftable automatic is a breeze. However, a manual can be a lot of fun for someone who knows how to use one.
No car can be perfect. This F-Type has only one small flaw. The exhaust note seems forced and synthetic. It is the one part that has always made my hair stand on end when I hear some of the throatier Jaguars. It is not the end of the world. For an additional $260, you can add on the Active Exhaust. With the touch of a button, voila! The growl is no SVR, but it’s not bad. For a turbo 4 cylinder, the sound is not bad at all.
If that guttural sound is a factor for you, consider this – purchasing a fully loaded P300 puts you into the price range of the base P340. Equipped with a 3.0L V6 engine and pushing 340 horses, that Jag sounds wonderfully wicked.
DH: Even though I’ve driven models with both V6 and V8 power, I don’t “sneer” when I consider the P300’s four-cylinder offering. What I’m a little miffed about when it comes to the Jag is that though it makes less hp than the Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman twins, it costs more at base. That’s going to be a bit of a tough nut to swallow when it comes to those buyers Jag hopes to draw away from Stuttgart. I also don’t like the fact that they’ve named it to draw attention to the fact that it doesn’t quite have 300 hp. It’s weird.
The Jag does make more torque than the Porsche twins, however; 15 lb-ft more, to be precise, which should help make up for the 4 hp deficit it has against the Porsches. Not to mention that the Ingenium turbo it has, has been serving duty in various Jaguar/Land Rover products, so it’s got that expertise to draw from.
Indeed, on start-up, it’s a pleasing sound; not quite as much of an all-out assault on the senses as are the V6 and V8 offerings, but then, very little is as those engine’s exhaust notes are manic. What you get with the P300 is something like a cross between the V6 and a strung-out four-banger, the likes of what you might see in a European touring car or a hot-hatchback. Of course, as Lacey says: the tunable exhaust is a nice add.
Peak torque comes at a lowly 1,500 rpm, which means that the P300 should have enough power on-tap to perform whatever task you ask of it; whether powering out of a tight hairpin or trying to pass on the highway, you should be well covered. As you sweep towards the redline things get a little less intense, but the powerband is wide enough that you should get the thrills you crave almost as soon as you tip in. This is a supremely well thought-out powerplant, and while the differences between the V8 and I4 are pretty obvious, the gulf between this and the V6, not so much. You really do get the feeling that the F-Type was developed from the get-go to get a four-banger.
Lacey says she’s not disappointed that a traditional manual isn’t offered. That she may say, but I’m willing to bet that if she had the chance to try both back-to-back, the three-pedal example would be hard to ignore. I don’t get it; the V6 gets one, so why can’t the I4? It seems obvious that of all models on offer, the entry-level one may be the only one to get the choice of the manual as in most any car, trims equipped with a manual are always less expensive.
You could say it’s an expression of the P300’s goal to be the more well-rounded car; maybe Jag sees it as more of a daily driver than the V6 or V8 would be and I guess that people who daily drive their sports car don’t want a manual? I guess if they think like Lacey, then that’s how it is. I’ll never get it, though. Ever.
SAFETY & TECHNOLOGY
LE: All the expected safety features come standard. Rear parking aid with camera, lane keep assist, emergency brake assist, tire pressure monitoring and traffic sign recognition. A blind spot on the right side will take some getting used to. Adding on the Blind spot assist is an additional $500, which would be money well spent.
DH: All that safety tech’s nice to have, but I do wish Jag would up the ante in the infotainment department. Their interface is mostly intuitive, it’s just that’s it’s so darn slow. Screen touches are met with a chunky response that recalls the original Ford SYNC interface, and that’s something the Blue Oval would love us all to forget about. I’m waiting for the day we start seeing the spectacular interface found in the P300’s Range Rover Velar cousin.
LE: If you are a true driving enthusiast, the more powerful engines will clearly be more appealing. With that being said, I am personally impressed. This F-type allowed me to drive without any effort at all. Aggressive and sporty, yet comfortable enough to use it on a daily commute. This F-type P300 is still a genuine sports car. The price tag, incredible looks, Jaguar DNA and more manageable road manners make this an easy choice for me.
DH: I guess you could say – as Lacey has – that “driving enthusiasts” would prefer the bigger motors. There’s a good chance that’s true, but I think the real aspect that would sway said “enthusiasts” would be an option for a manual transmission. I hate to harp on this, but the 718 twins have them at base, why can’t this car? The rest of it is so good, that I honestly believe I may have the four-cylinder and the better fuel economy it provides over the V6 – if I could get it with a manual. Since I can’t, I’d probably stick with the V6 and the V8? Well, that’s in a different league entirely so we won’t go there for now.
For now, I’ll just take the P300’s communicative chassis, quick steering rack and say that at the end of the day, while the F-Type is a single model designation, it has options that can pretty much take on Porsche’s entire sports car portfolio, and that’s nothing to scoff at.