The easiest way to identify an F-Type with a four-cylinder engine

The easiest way to identify an F-Type with a four-cylinder engine

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JLR's decision to put a 2.0-litre Ingenium into the Jaguar F-Type shows that not even sports cars are now immune from a worldwide tide turning against big-capacity combustion engines. 

The four-cylinder engine recently fitted to the F-Type isn't exactly underpowered. It produces 221kW (300PS) and 400Nm. That's only 40 horsepower fewer than what is produced by the lesser of two supercharged V6s, the former base unit, pushes out.

The CO2 average is 163g/km, top speed is 155mph, 0-62mph takes 5.7 seconds and Combined consumption is 39.2mpg.

With a new six-cylinder engine under development, JLR won't be matching fellow premium OEM Volvo's strategy of only offering three- and four-cylinder engines plus PHEVs and EVs. For Jaguar, that makes sense, as it risks puzzling customers in the USA, the Middle East, Australia and other places where the taxation on fuel is low. The I-Pace gives the make an electric play to see what sort of demand exists for an E-SUV, while the E-Pace, which comes with outputs of 246-296hp in the USA, shows that four cylinders can be enough in certain vehicles. As well as the E-Pace, the importer also added the F-Type Ingenium for the 2018 model year.

To look at, the F-Type 2.0-litre has only a few differences which show it has a small-capacity engine, the main one being a wide, centrally-mounted finisher for its exhaust. There won't be any doubt about the engine when the car is fired up either, as the sound is definitely not that of a V6 or V8. It isn't rough, just not terribly inspiring. Some of this is due to software which runs the Ingenium for about 30 seconds at engine revolutions a fair bit higher than idle, before dropping it to around 1,000rpm.

After the disappointment of the fire-up and idling, things become much better if you select Dynamic via a switch on the central console. This turns the instruments red and activates automated throttle blipping on all seven of the eight-speed ZF transmission's downshifts. There is also a great deal of aural delight to be had on upshifts even though the in-line four never sounds anywhere near as fantastic as the supercharged six- and eight-cylinder alternatives.

The new-to-the-F-Type engine, which was added almost five years into the car's life cycle, is what this model should always have had. What I mean by that is a variant that had more alluring pricing than the almost GBP60,000 which Jaguar released the base car with back in May 2013. Lots of potential buyers hesitated and the F-Type got itself a reputation for being beautiful but too pricey, especially when the Boxster and Cayman were cheaper.

Some numbers now. The CO2 average is 163g/km, top speed is 155mph, 0-62mph takes 5.7 seconds and Combined consumption is 39.2mpg. The Urban figure of 32.1mpg is more realistic and yet that's very good indeed considering how accelerative this car is. And pricing? The least expensive hatchback costs from GBP51,210, which sounds like excellent value.

At 407 litres, boot capacity is very good although that only applies to three-door cars and there is no spare tyre.

Lots of things make this car a special experience. Tug on the lever to open the bonnet and checking the oil after refuelling will often attract someone who wants to know all about the car. Lifting this front-hinged panel is borderline theatrical as it's such an enormous pressing and might even make some people think of an E-Type. That could well have been the thinking of those who designed it.

There is a big chunk of plastic which hides the top of the 2.0-litre engine. This looks better than what Jaguar covers the V6 and V8 engines with. The car's aluminium construction and (optional) bonded-in glass roof might worry some purists but they should take note of the thick-diameter tubular braces which can be seen at three locations in the engine bay. These must work to add rigidity as the test car creaked not once and the doors never had to be slammed even when parked on an unevenly sloping surface.

Jaguar earns bonus points for specifying a UV-blocking blind for the glass roof rather than one of the inferior alternatives which offer only mesh. And there is no need to wait for a slow/whirring/weighty motor to open or close it, as it's manually operated. Another glass panel, the one in the rear hatch, needs a wash-wipe added to it but this isn't even an option, unlike electric opening and closing. As noted in previous F-Type reviews, boot capacity is very good although that only applies to three-door cars and there is no spare tyre, just a puncture repair kit.

The F-Type's looks were not messed with during the mid-cycle facelift and the car looks just as beautiful as it always did. A too-low lip spoiler should be a delete option as it scrapes no matter how slowly even some lightly inclined driveways are approached. At least it's flexible but contact being made with concrete is never a pleasant sound.

The interior had a useful update as part of the facelift which went on sale a year ago and was new for North America's 2018 model year line-up. The touchscreen is now larger and even though it takes longer than ideal to come to life after the car is started, everything works instantly after that.

This is not the best vehicle for anyone who likes to travel with various odds and ends. The door pockets are none too generous; the glovebox hasn't got a lot of room; there are no obvious places to stash house keys, phone, sunglasses and/or wallet; and that includes a too-small cubby box under the armrest. There's a tiny net attached to a large plastic panel behind the seats and it would secure something the size of a mobile phone but nothing larger. As for the coat hooks behind each seat, these are all but useless unless your passenger is less than average in height: anything hung there will be either crushed or fall to the carpet when the seats are slid to a position which is comfortable for most people.

Not only isn't there a bad angle anywhere on an F-Type but it's just such a looker from every angle.

Positives? There are many. The driving position remains excellent, visibility is better than you might imagine and everything looks good, if perhaps a tiny bit dated now. With four-cylinder cars, there is the unsaid statement of this being the cheapest variant, which is hinted at by things such as matte-black handles and too much grey plastic on the doors. Yes a turbocharged F-Type can be made to look and feel almost as good as the supercharged ones but that's going to mean paying up for options.

I know an F-Type owner who loves the gear selection trigger. Me, who hasn't spent as much time in F-Types, still struggles not to hate this part of the car. Why can't it be JLR's sublime rising and descending rotary selector? Especially when this takes up far less space than the clunky trigger module. The main issue is remembering that you must use the forefinger to press a hidden button when selecting D or R. During a three-point turn on a busy road, you find N rather than what you wanted, the engine revs, the car rolls backwards or forwards, brake pedal is stabbed, trigger is cursed, button is pressed, apologies waved.

A couple of other things which hopefully won't be carried over to the replacement model would include the too-small sun visors which also cannot pivot due to where they are positioned. And this is just as minor a point but addressing it would show that Jaguar is a genuinely premium brand: how about getting the various fonts to match and for digits to be ideally sized? The numbers for speed and engine revs are enormous (that says Old Person's Car) and they look quite different to what you see in the odometer and trip computer read-outs.

The word JAGUAR which appears as the ignition is started or stopped is not of the same typeface as other words which appear for various warnings. Hyundai, Opel-Vauxhall, Renault and most other non-luxury brands - even Fiat - eliminated this stuff years ago. Unfairly or otherwise, it can make you wonder if the F-Type hasn't been as obsessively engineered for excellence as many cheaper cars appear to have been. In a high-priced vehicle, this stuff can make for a less than ideal first impression on the test drive. More about that in my next review: the pricey but not premium Kia Stinger.

Balancing out the small oversights, it has to be said that after a week with the F-Type turbo, it still felt like a very special car. People seem to know it's a Jag and love how it looks: you get used to being smiled at and waved out of junctions. Porsche and BMW drivers do not receive such gracious gifts from strangers. Not only is there not a bad angle anywhere on an F-Type, every detail is exquisite. I myself have slowed to let an F-Type into the traffic flow. So that I could look at it, checking the tailpipes, wheels and badging to ascertain which engine powers it.

The line-up now stretches from the 300PS Ingenium through to the supercharged 5.0-litre 575PS SVR, with a strangely enormous 150PS gap in the range above the 340PS V6, 380PS V6 and 400PS V6 400 Sport supercharged 3.0-litre cars and below the 550PS R. The fate of the V8 is not yet known, but the V6s, which are also made by Ford at Bridgend in south Wales, will eventually be replaced by JLR's forthcoming straight six. Supposedly JLR's contract with its former owner ends in 2020, and deliveries of the Dagenham-made V6 diesel fitted to other Jaguars (and Land Rovers) will reportedly stop in 2019.

A re-engineering to take the 2,995cc in-line petrol turbo could be too expensive to justify for the existing X152 F-Type. Its appearance in a Jaguar sports car may therefore have to wait until 2020 which is when X161, the successor model, should enter production. There again, the new turbo four-cylinder F might mean that the current car starts selling a lot better and stays in production for a bit longer than originally thought. Jaguar also has some serious problems to deal with in the form of the XE and XF, neither of which is anywhere near as successful as had been hoped. Resources might therefore be channelled into major facelifts for both, which could see X161 delayed until 2021 or even 2022. The F-Type's looks will surely still be turning heads even by then and if supplies of the 340PS and 380PS V6s do dry up in 2020, the I4 turbo might even be tuned to deliver in excess of 300PS.

Leaving speculation on powertrains aside, the new 2.0-litre entry point to the X152 is a more than worthwhile addition to the range. Especially as it should draw in some who may have always wanted an F-Type but thought a Porsche Cayman or Boxster offered better value. It also shows that JLR is ready for a future where small capacity engines will bring down a model range's average emissions and lift fuel economy but performance can still be strong.

Yes, electric supercars are coming, and, some of us hope, a way overdue worldwide discussion about the energy so often powering them which might well be sourced from uranium- and/or coal-fired power stations. Let's not condemn cars such as the F-Type, whether they're packing a 2.0-litre or 5.0-litre fossil-burning engine, just yet. Super GTs such as this one which can deliver an average of close to 40mpg, tend not to suddenly self-combust in a repair shop weeks after a collision, and never cease to thrill their owners and passengers by making such wonderful noises, are surely anything but old-tech.