Kyalami - The Jaguar F-Type is one of South Africa’s leading sports cars. From a sales perspective it finds favour amongst a number of new buyers every month, and dynamically is has properly good handling capabilities.
It’s just a good sports car, even if practicality is not one of its strong points. Plus it has a good mix of engines, gearboxes and visual presence.
8, 6 and now 4
Up until now Jaguar has only had V6 and V8 derivatives in its F-Type range; displacing 3.0- and 5.0-litres, respectively. And those who experienced these engines will be able to give a clear indication of how each car performs, how each car has its own personality.
The difference between the various V6 models are notable, and the difference between the V6s and V8s even more so.
Heck, the characteristics between the V8s are monumental! All topped off by the big daddy of them all, the F-Type SVR. But the problem, or predicament if you will, with the F-Type range was that both the V6 and V8 derivatives are intense beasts.
Regardless of the model, you need your wits about you when driving them. And it can be scary! Especially the rear-wheel drive monsters; the all-wheel drive a bit less so. It’s huge fun being on the edge, but you can never really have a relaxed drive in a car built for outright performance and speed. And that left a bit of a gap in the F-Type range.
Which brings us to the reason for paying Kyalami International Raceway a visit: Jag’s new 2.0-litre turbocharged engine bolted onto the F-Type. Now before we go off at Jaguar for undertaking this new direction, there is a fair amount of logic behind this. Logic that actually - when you think about it - makes sense.
It can perform
This new F-Type with its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine slots in as the new entry-level model to the range. Starting at just over R909 000 it’s not cheap, but it is the more affordable option. But what that price also brings is a sports car from Jaguar that is more accessible to more drivers and buyers. A car that now will be able to cater to a bigger audience. From the word go anyone will be able to tell you that the 2.0-litre does not have the same noise and power as the two bigger engines - uhm, durr - but that is exactly the reason why one would consider it.
From a performance perspective, its 221kW/400Nm is somewhat underwhelming against the power figures of the other F-Types, but that is because the car was never created to rival its bigger siblings. Power delivery is smooth and is fed in, rather than an abrupt release of it. The eight-speed automatic gearbox, too, has no problem hooking the right gear when left to its own devises, but the experience is obviously more engaging when one changes gears manually. It just adds a bit of excitement and drama to the experience.
Even the launch control is less intense than the other F-Types, but the car shoots off the line in a clean manner, which should see drivers achieve Jag’s claim of a 5.7 second 0-100km/h sprint time.
Dynamically is where the F-Type will come into its own and it will reward the driver who drives it to its strengths. Jaguar claims they have managed to shave off more than 50kg of the car’s weight and most of which is on the front axle.
Driving the 2.0-litre back-to-back against the V6 and V8, steering is a lot lighter and gentler. There isn’t that heaviness that accompanies the bigger F-Types’ steering feel. In addition, when one is gentle on the steering, the rear will follow and the car will remain composed and in the driver’s control.
The Jaguar F-Type is a good car. All the models. It does what is expected of a roadster and it does it very well. With the automaker adding this new engine to the mix, the range immediately looks a lot more accessible to the masses; to those who are in the market for something sporty and exciting.
This 2.0-litre engine might grind the gears of true petrolheads and those who expect their sports cars to have a big engine, but the car proved to be quite capable of handling itself in the respected company of the 3.0-litre V6 and 5.0-litre V8.