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    Are four cylinders enough? Jaguar’s F-type gets a new turbo engine of just two litres, but it still has the claws. Words Robert Coucher.

    / #Jaguar-F-Type / #Jaguar-F-Type-Coupé / #Jaguar / #2017 / #2018 / #Jaguar-F-Type-R-Dynamic-2.0-Coupé-Carbon-Fibre-Pack / #Jaguar-F-Type-R-Dynamic-2.0-Coupé / #Jaguar-F-Type-2.0-Coupé / #Jaguar-F-Type-R-Dynamic

    GAD! A four-cylinder Jaguar sports car? Whatever next? A diesel? As we know, a ‘proper’ Jaguar should have a large-displacement, multi-cylinder engine that’s smooth and powerful. But a new F-type has just been launched with a 1997cc turbo engine – surely this has to be a laggy screamer.

    The F-type is certainly a looker in both Coupé and Convertible configurations and the four-pot version appears almost identical to the proper V6 and V8 models. Only the single tailpipe gives the game away. The car benefits from a freshened-up bumper design, lovely (optional) LED headlights and attractive alloy wheels, 18in as standard.

    But hang on. Jaguar claims its state-of-the-art, lightweight Ingenium four-cylinder engine produces a whacking 300bhp, with 295 lb ft of torque available at just 1500rpm. This translates to 150bhp per litre, the highest specific output of any engine in the F-type range, and it’s also the most efficient, with a 16% improvement in fuel economy over the V6 and CO2 emissions of just 163g/km. Driven through an eightspeed Quickshift auto ’box, the F-type promises 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds with a top speed limited to 155mph. That’s as near as dammit to the V6 model!

    To our eyes the Coupé is the best-looking F-type and has all sorts of Jaguar design cues harking back to the fabled E-type FHC. The Convertible is cute but more derivative and less distinctive. But what will the four-pot sound like and how will it feel in action?

    Slip into the low-slung bucket seat; the interior is attractive with its large, central infotainment system, neat instruments and fatrimmed steering wheel. But don’t look too closely because some of the swathes of plastic appear a bit cheap. Thumb the starter button and the little four erupts with a big sound and settles down to a purring idle. It reacts instantly to a blip of the throttle pedal and sounds much larger than just 1997cc.

    Switch into Dynamic mode, select the loud exhaust setting, pull the paddle into first gear, then mash the throttle. The purring engine ignites angrily and the F-type leaps off the mark. Six thou’ comes up almost instantly, so click the paddle and second slams in as the F-type accelerates with seamless enthusiasm, accompanied with nice crackles and pops on the overrun. Well, well, well.

    OK, so it’s not a supercar but nor is it priced as one, starting at £49,000. But this engine certainly sounds big enough for the job.

    Calming down a bit, what about the torque? Amazing! Of turbo lag there is none and the four comes across as deliciously muscular. Into the corners the steering is beautiful, the chassis is planted and flat and the car turns in fast thanks to the four-cylinder being a useful 25kg lighter than the V6. Think neat, playful, nippy and obedient. Spring rates have been adjusted accordingly so the ride is excellent. Turn off the dynamic mode, switch the exhaust to quiet and the F-type goes stealth with very little engine, tyre or road noise: sports car morphs into comfortable GT.

    So is this a real Jaguar? It sounds good (if not as operatic as the V6 or V8), it handles extremely well, it’s fast, the engine produces huge torque, the ride is superb, it looks gorgeous, it’s efficient, it can be serene and it’s very desirable.

    So yes, Jaguar has a feisty new cub.
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    FAST FLEET / END OF TERM / #Jaguar-F-Type-R-Coupe-AWD / #Jaguar-F-Type-R-Coupé / #Jaguar-F-Type / #Jaguar-F-Type-R / #Jaguar / #2016 /

    It’s safeguarded Jag’s reputation for building cars of character, but would you want to live with it?

    Occasionally, if I’ve got a lot of travelling to do, I’ll buy a Jack Reacher novel. I know they’re not Dickens or Booker Prize-winning, but by golly they’re page-turners and immensely enjoyable if you like a good yarn; easy to pick up, hard to put down and something of a guilty pleasure. Sometimes you don’t want the best, you want to satisfy a craving for a story, and Lee Child provides.

    The motoring equivalent? Well, the polished brilliance of a 911 Carrera may make it the car that wins group tests, but I wouldn’t blame you if it was the bombastic noise, stunning looks and accessible oversteer of an F-type R you were drawn towards in a showroom. No, the ride isn’t as good, neither are the gearbox and steering, and yes, it is rather heavy, but there is something irresistible and approachable about its charms. It makes you feel good – Jethro Bovingdon said as much when the R went up against the Mercedes-AMG GT.

    To that extent, I would plump for the rear-driven version. After nearly a year with the extra pair of driveshafts I can certainly appreciate the dynamic benefits of all-wheel drive, the car feeling quicker and much more stable (especially in the wet). With 542bhp and 501lb ft, the #AWD F-type will still slide if you commit to corners with a bit of conviction, working the front tyres hard on the way in so that the rears will swing under power. But gone is the low-hanging dynamic fruit of the RWD car, the easily accessible low-speed quarter-turn of opposite lock on the exit of a tight corner or roundabout, instigated almost whenever you feel like it with only a prod of the accelerator. I missed that, because while it might not be particularly sophisticated or quick, it is a lot of fun.

    Apart from a switch to rear-wheel drive, I don’t think there is much else, if anything, that I would have changed about OE65 KKP – which, incidentally, cost £104,200 from a base price of £91,660, thanks in no small part to the fitment of carbonceramic brakes at £7400. The shape of the F-type #Coupe is so intrinsically right that it looks good in any colour, but Rhodium Silver (£700) really did make it look very special indeed. The Design Pack (£395), which replaces the chrome bits with gloss black, was the icing on the cake.

    Everywhere the R went it turned heads, and not just the heads of car enthusiasts. Most revealing was walking back to it in a car park: safe in the knowledge that they were staring at a car without someone inside, you’d see people almost circling it in infatuation. I don’t blame them. I found it hard not to take photos of it constantly.

    If you turned them all the way up to level three, the heated buckets were like sitting near an open fire. I’ve never been sure about heated steering wheels, but on an early winter morning or after cleaning cars in a freezing Welsh lay-by, it was a nice luxury. It might seem odd to draw a parallel, but there was something comforting about the raucous noise of the exhaust when you started the supercharged V8, too. Perhaps it triggered a small pulse of warming adrenalin – particularly on the early mornings where you knew it would have disturbed the slumbers of the village, including those in the churchyard.

    The tick-tock of the indicators sounded like a grandfather clock in a hallway, while the warning chimes were equally refined. Apart from one occasion where it thought it was in a Discovery and tried to take me green-laning, the satnav was jolly good, too. Fuel economy was predictably poor and the extended side skirts picked up dirt quicker than a schoolboy’s knees. And to end this paragraph of pros and cons, I was surprised by how much you could lug around in the boot.

    Unlike the Fiesta ST that I had before the Jag, the R isn’t a car that you drive hard all the time. Shortshifting and enjoying the torque was often all a journey required. But if ever you needed a pick-me-up to improve your mood then holding on to a gear, feeling the monstrous pace squeeze you into the seat-back and then listening to the crack from the exhaust on the upshift was wonderfully accessible. A 911 Turbo may be even quicker, but where the Porsche is clinically impressive, the Jag is engagingly ebullient. Which brings us back to the start of this end-of-term report.

    Above: dive into the driving mode settings and you had control of the engine, chassis, gearbox and steering maps. Top and far left: exterior had style in abundance.

    ‘There is something irresistible and approachable about the Jaguar F-type R’s charms’

    Date acquired January 2016
    Duration of test 10 months
    Total test mileage 11,266
    Overall mpg 25.9
    Costs £819.52 four tyres
    Purchase price £104,200
    Value today £65,000-75,000
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    / #2017 / #Jaguar-F-Type-SVR-Convertible / #Jaguar-F-Type-SVR / #Jaguar-F-Type / #Jaguar / #Jaguar-F-Type-Convertible / #Jaguar-Convertible /

    Proper drop-top supercar or a grotesque caricature that seems a bit confused? Test location: B660, Cambridgeshire GPS: 52.401677, -0.373068 Photography: Aston Parrott.

    The Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible’s exhaust system is made of such exotic materials that it almost seems like a shame to blast noxious gases through it. The titanium and Inconel pipework saves 16kg compared with the F-type r’s exhaust, which is a very good thing. Jaguar says it emits a ‘distinctive rumble’, which is a lie.

    The serrated, tuneless blare – like a woodpecker digging directly into your skull – that fires from those four exhaust tips is no more a rumble than Eric Pickles’ post-vindaloo flatulence is a pitch-perfect aria. From inside the cabin the SVR’s soundtrack under full throttle has the offensive, irritating quality of a distant leaf blower or quad-bike engine, with no musicality or variation through the rev range. That’s true when the roof is down, at least, because with the canvas hood – or better still, the Coupe’s fixed metal roof – protecting your eardrums from the worst of the din, the SVR’s soundtrack can be quite fun, albeit in an unsophisticated, attention-seeking sort of way.

    There’s also something uncouth about the tacked-on rear wing that’s specific to the range-topping SVR models. Again, the spoiler works better on the Coupe, but on this Convertible it looks more like a pram handle than an aerodynamic device. Thankfully it can be deleted, and the standard deployable rear spoiler installed instead, for no cost.

    Aside from the revised bodykit and new exhaust, the SVR also gets a touch more power from its supercharged V8 (567bhp plays the F-type r’s 542bhp) and bespoke chassis tuning, too. The modifications to the all-wheel-drive system are detailed rather than comprehensive, though, the result being that it takes a forensic understanding of both versions to identify the handling differences out on the road.

    What’s immediately apparent, though, is that the SVR is rampantly fast. It accelerates with such force (matching the Coupe to 60mph, at 3.5sec) that your first instinct is to lift back off the throttle pedal, which, incidentally, elicits an immediate and precise response. The eight-speed auto ’box is generally very good, but in terms of shift speed it’s outpaced by the latest twin-clutch transmissions.

    Dynamically, this is a complicated car to both understand and describe. There’s enough agility and grip to carry huge speed, but on a tricky and bumpy road the SVR needs to be wrestled rather than tickled along. The suspension feels stiff over lumps and bumps, particularly at lower speeds, which hints at rock-solid body control, but in reality the body movements during cornering, braking and even under acceleration are very pronounced. The car also hunts ruts and cambers enthusiastically.

    There’s a slight instability under heavy braking, too. Enough to drag the steering wheel through your fingers if you’re not grasping it firmly. All this means the SVR is rather busy across a typical British country road. you had better be holding on to it.
    You should be deliberate with your inputs, too, committing fully to the throttle early and relying on the AWD to deploy the torque rather than hovering over the pedal hesitantly at corner exit. On the approach to a bend you also need to turn in hard enough to make the car sit down heavily in the corner – if you’re too timid you won’t compress the springs enough to push through the sloppy, slightly woolly initial phase of travel.

    Driving the SVR quickly is a bit like learning to parallel turn on skis – you can try to build up to it all you like, but there comes a point where you have to take a small leap of faith and really commit to the turn with confidence. The trouble, though, is that the massive straight-line performance, aloof yet hyper-responsive steering, exaggerated body movements and the fact that it fidgets over the road surface mean the SVR is not a car that inspires confidence right away. That comes with time – perhaps more time, we’d suggest, than the typical driver will be able to tolerate that infernal soundtrack.

    Dan Prosser
    ‘The SVR is rather busy across a typical country road. You had better be holding on’

    + huge performance, rigid body, drama
    - Contrived soundtrack, unsettled handling on bumpy roads

    Specification
    Engine V8, 5000cc, supercharger
    CO2 269g/km
    Power 567bhp @ 6500rpm
    Torque 516lb ft @ 3500-5000rpm
    0-60mph 3.5sec (claimed)
    Top speed 195mph (claimed)
    Weight 1720kg (335bhp/ton)
    Price £115,485
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    Dan Prosser
    Dan Prosser created a new group Jaguar F-Type
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