2018 Jaguar F-Type P300 R-Dynamic road test review
We seem to be living in some weird times. The other day I was out shopping for a vacuum cleaner and I had to choose between a V8 and a V10. And the car that I drove to the shop is this red-hot F-Type coupé you see here, but ironically, it is powered by an in-line four-cylinder engine! Hmmm.
This is the same 2.0l Ingenium petrol engine that you get in the XE and XF sedans and it has been introduced on the F-Type alongside the new headlamps and infotainment system as a part of the car's mid-life makeover. The engine also gives this car a new mid-mounted exhaust and a P300 badge on the tail, which sheepishly points to the power output - 300PS. You get more power than that in a CLA45 AMG! And for lesser money, it gives you four seats and a boot. In contrast, the F-Type is strictly a two-seater and the boot only has space for your morning groceries or maybe a slim laptop bag. After all, who goes grocery shopping in an F-Type? And if you do, the CLA45 clearly makes more sense, right?
Well, not really. You see the F-Type is the spiritual successor to the E-Type - the most beautiful car ever built. The F doesn't beat that, but if you appreciate beauty in simplicity, then the F-Type is certainly one of the most beautiful coupes out there! And taking it to the grocery store or to the office is like being a Samaritan to the onlookers.
Coming back to the new 2.0l engine, it is now the base-spec for the F-Type (if you haven't guessed already), while the range topper is the stunning F-Type SVR built on the V8. The 2.0l Ingenium boasts of a great fuel efficiency, meaning you need to make lesser stops to the fuel station; and it also emits lesser CO2. So instead of polar bears, this cat only eats butterflies for breakfast.
In our tests, the F-Type managed around 6kmpl in the city and over 10kmpl on the highway - amazing for a sports car! The magic lies in the fact that the peak torque of 400Nm is available from as low as 1,500rpm. You will surprised to see you the F-Type puttering around town in third gear most of the times. On the highway, it cruises at 130kmph at a little over 2,000rpm. Give it some beans and you will notice that it takes a while to build pace. Shift to the Dynamic mode though and the car becomes relatively aggressive. There is a noticeable change in the engine character, the lovely ZF eight-speed transmission becomes quite responsive.
The F-Type comes with Pirelli P-Zero tyres and knowing how good these tyres are, I inherently expect tons of grip from them. But because they are tailor-made, they make sure that they safeguard the frisky character of the F-Type. In Dynamic mode, the rear wheels break traction often to ensure the driving fun, while the linear delivery of the humble power, ensures that you won't soil your pants when this Jaguar starts wagging its tail. If you don't like it, there is a rain/snow mode to reign in the enthusiasm.
Weight distribution was never a concern with the F-Type, but the entry spec car fine-tunes the 51:49 ratio further. The 2.0l engine is lighter and shaves over 50kg off of the front. The result is noticeably quicker turn-ins. Speaking of which, quite a few drivers had complained about the overly sharp turn-ins of the F-Type and to address that, the new F-Type has a more linear steering response when in normal mode. If you belong to the group that liked the sharper turn-ins though, then you might want to leave the driving mode to Dynamic.
I like the balance that the F-Type achieves between predictable handling and the frequent tail-wags. I also like how the adaptive suspension has been set up. Potholes are as big a worry for it as you would expect for a sports car, but the F-Type handles undulations, ruts, and joints surprisingly well. Unlike a typical sports car, it doesn't track unnervingly over the imperfections in the road. For a flat ride through corners, the dynamic mode does stiffen up the chassis and quite noticeably so. Despite that, the F-Type can arc a clean line even through bumpy corners. Dynamically then, the F-Type is still as impressive or maybe even better than before. Even with the smaller, entry spec engine, there is plenty of enthusiasm in this cat to keep you entertained.
Before you complain, let us address in pink elephant in the room - the sound of F-Type. The exhaust note of the V8 is so emotional and so involving, that the first time I heard it, I wanted to bottle it and take it home. Sadly, I can't say the same the about the P300. That said, it sounds astonishingly good for a four-cylinder engine. It has the crackles and pops that you expect from a sports car, and has this pleasing grumble as the speeds rise.
Sure, it lacks the aural drama that you expect from the F-Type, but it seems like a small price to pay when you compare the price and performance difference between P300 and the V8. I would go ahead and say that it offers almost 2/3rd the performance of the full-fat V8 and that may be plenty for many out there. And that is the point of the F-Type P300 - to make this gorgeous art on wheels, more accessible for those who appreciate it.
Photography: Anis Shaikh
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