Detroit Bureau on Twitter

First Drive: Jaguar F-Type 4-Cylinder

Sound off...and sound on.

by on Aug.10, 2017

The 4-cylinder version of the Jaguar F-Type joins the U.S. line-up later this year.

We’ve spent the last several hours climbing up a mountainside in the northern reaches of Norway behind the wheel of a new Range Rover Velar. Now, as we creep back down to level ground, it’s time to go from the sublime to the ridiculous…or is it the other way around?

As much fun as the new Range Rover has been over the last couple days, we can’t wait to check out the way the Jaguar F-Type will maneuver through the twisting Norwegian countryside, its narrow, but well-paved roads tracing the curves of the local rivers, lakes and fjords. Making things more interesting: our two-seater is the new, four-cylinder version of the F-Type.

Reviews You Can Trust!

We fell in love with the sports car the moment the convertible version first rolled out, the coupe adding even more to its handling bona fides. But perhaps nothing enhanced the visceral passion quite like the raw, guttural roar of the F-Type’s supercharged V-8. Will the new, turbocharged 4-cylinder Ingenium engine deliver anywhere near the thrill?

The 4-cylinder Jaguar F-Type still punches out 296 hp through the 2-seater's rear wheels.

(Jaguar goes loopy for launch of new E-Pace SUV. Click Here to check it out.)

A bit about that powertrain: it’s based on one of the new turbocharged 2.0-liter packages that is rolling out across the Jaguar Land Rover family. Among the many engineering features is an electrohydraulic valve lift system that can help balance out the demand for performance and mileage, depending on what the driver’s foot is doing.

When it’s slammed against the floor, the engine will respond with 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. While that’s barely half as much pony power as the extreme, 575-hp supercharged V-8 punches out, those are reasonably impressive numbers, nonetheless, especially in a car weighing just 3,360 pounds. (Jaguar engineers managed to trim the mass of this F-Type model by over 100 pounds compared to the V-6 version.)

Fed to the back wheels through an eight-speed ZF automatic, the F-Type 4-cylinder model can still manage a tire-squealing launch, hitting 60 in a factory-rated 5.4 seconds.

(Click Here to check out Project 8, the “most extreme” Jaguar ever.)

The 4-cylinder version offers audio enhancements to yield a more guttural exhaust roar.

But what about that visceral exhaust note? Fire up the engine and you immediately note the lack of that resonant growl. The engine spins faster and the sound is higher-pitched. But when you punch the Dynamic Mode and active exhaust buttons, well, there’s a big transformation.

Suddenly, the exhaust note drops a few octaves. It’s not quite the same as the supercharged V-8, but it’s a lot more pleasing than before, and a good bit more macho than some of the other four-cylinder sports car starting to populate the highways. It’s also not quite as unreal as the totally artificial digital sound some BMWs have engineered in. Whether it’s something wonderful depends upon your point of view. Among colleagues, we found the opinion harshly divided between those who loved the resultant roar and those who couldn’t accept anything artificial.

As for the F-Type itself, the badging is about the only thing that will give away the fact that you’re running the four-cylinder package. Buyers will get the option of 18, 19 and 20-inch wheels and inside, there’s a great magnesium-frame sport seating package.

A cutaway of the new turbocharged 2.0-liter Ingenium 4-cylinder engine.

However, there are a few other technical changes. For one thing, you’ll sacrifice the active damping system found on the rest of the F-Type line-up.

That’s not as big a loss as it might seem. During our drive we quickly came to forget that difference. Jaguar engineers have done a marvelous job managing to balance out the vehicle dynamics. Norway has fairly strict highway rules and when we were closely abiding to the 80 kmh (50 mph) highway speed limit the Jaguar F-Type proved surprisingly comfortable and smooth for a little sports car.

We have to admit pushing the limit on a few, (okay, numerous), occasions. And it was there that the 4-cylinder package shined. The electric power steering system offered just the right amount of boost, allowing us plenty of road feedback, especially as we maneuvered through some particularly tight turns. No, it’s not quite as precise as the F-Type with the dynamic dampers, nor a Porsche Boxster or Cayman, but the F-Type 4-cylinder is a hoot to drive hard.

One of the most thrilling moments came as we headed towards our final destination, blasting through a three-mile tunnel, convertible top down, the car in Dynamic Mode and the exhaust system in its full, ear-splitting mode.

Unfortunately, that tunnel meant we were approaching the airport, and the time to hand back the keys. We’ll look to get back into the Jaguar F-Type 4-cylinder before winter socks in our hometown of Detroit.

Expect to see the new version of Jaguar’s slick sports car reach U.S. showrooms later this year. It will carry a base price of $60,895.

(Jaguar I-Pace will be one of many new electric vehicles coming to market by 2020. Click Here to check them all out.)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.