As well as adding new engines to the XE, XF and F-Pace ranges, Jaguar has installed a downsized four-cylinder motor to its F-Type sports car. We tried it in the Coupe earlier this month (Issue 1,484), but what’s the Convertible like to drive? Traditionally, the F-Type has battled squarely with the Porsche 911, both in terms of performance and price. This new model comes in at a snip under £50,000 in base Coupe form, bringing it closer to the cheaper Cayman and Boxster than before.
The 296bhp 2.0-litre has a very different character to the sonorous V6 and the brutal V8 versions; it’s much quieter on start-up, and only emits the faintest burble from the exhaust at a cruise. That will suit those who find the faster F-Types too shouty cruising around town, or too boisterous on the limit. Rev it out and the volume ramps up, with the switchable active exhaust and some subtle assistance from the car’s speakers changing the rather dull four-cylinder drone to a harder-edged snarl above 4,000rpm. It’s a less intoxicating sound than on the more powerful cars, but beats the Boxster is characterless note. Dropping the roof makes things louder still, with plenty of induction noise adding to the drama.
Sound aside, it’s an impressive engine, with sharp throttle response in Dynamic mode, not much lag and meaty mid-range power delivery. The slick gearbox also helps make the most of the relative lack of power. The biggest benefit of that lighter engine is felt when you first encounter a fast bend. It can be tricky to build confidence in the more powerful rear-driven F-Types because the more rabid power delivery can unstick the tyres without much effort. But the more modest performance, combined with the more agile feel from the front end, means that you can work it harder and build up a rhythm through quick changes of direction.
This could be the best-handling F-Type we’ve driven, with seemingly little dynamic compromise for the drop-top version. It feels quicker than the underwhelming 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds suggests, too, but while Jaguar claims the 2.0 is a fair bit more efficient than the V6 engine, we’d like to have more time in the car to put that to the test.