A competent machine, one that has far more usable potential on the everyday drive than its more powerful siblings.
The Jaguar F-Type has been a smash hit around our office. Each time one comes around, excuses are made to go for aimless drives, or evenings out. This one however, is a little bit different. Adding to a lineup where supercharged V6 and V8 applications have ruled, the debut of the 2018 Jaguar F-Type Coupe P300 is the first time the storied British brand has had a sports car in their lineup with a four-cylinder engine. Initially in two minds about whether or not this would be blasphemous, we borrowed one for a road test.
Indisputably, one of the most alluring traits of the F-Type (in whichever form) is the striking design. Both the coupé tested here as well as the convertible are timelessly beautiful; a forever hit from Ian Callum, director of design for Jaguar. The long front-hinged hood sits behind lovely headlights, a traditional roadster silhouette is classical yet contemporary, and all is finished off with a meticulously penned rear end with unforgettable taillights. The coupé’s roofline is low and just breathtaking.
The new 2.0L turbocharged inline four-cylinder is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s “Ingenium” family, and is a fully in-house design. It offers 296 horsepower at 5,500RPM, and 295 lb-ft. of torque between 1,500 and 4,500RPM. In a car that weighs about 3,350 pounds, this is more than enough. Jaguar claims an acceleration time from 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds, and after our own testing, there is no reason to doubt that claim. The P300 feels considerably lighter than its V6 counterpart (reviewed here) and while it doesn’t pack the raw power of the F-Type SVR (reviewed here), it doesn’t feel slow by any means.
When speaking about the F-Type’s most alluring traits, the sound is easily one of them. The V6 and V8 models have performance exhaust systems that create a symphony of pops, bangs and roars. Jaguar has done the same with the four-cylinder, but it’s far milder, and the car unmistakably sounds like a four. There is some synthetic sound added inside the car, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering virtually every other vehicle at this price point does the same. A button located near the shifter will toggle the active exhaust on and off.
From a handling perspective, the lightest F-Type really is the one to have. There is no limited-slip differential, instead an open diff relying on the brake system for torque vectoring. Real gearheads may be disappointed, but it’s crucial to note that this isn’t exactly a sports car – it’s a phenomenal grand tourer that can still carve corners when asked to. The electric power steering is quite good and responds on command, and the DSC (dynamic stability control) system can be fully defeated. Also, this engine is only mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic – the manual is limited to the V6 model.
Those wanting to drive their F-Type in the snow will want to either opt for an all-wheel-drive model (reviewed here) or at the very least, invest in a set of meaty winter tires. Our test vehicle was equipped with Pirelli Sottozeros, which is a good performance winter tire but can be effectively useless in the snow. This combined with very low ground clearance means you’ll want to be careful where you go. The stability control system helps keep things in line, and there is a Snow/Rain mode that can be selected for optimal traction when you need it.
The F-Type P300 is the most efficient of the family as well, with extremely frugal ratings. The EPA rates it at 10.2L/100km city, 7.8L/100km highway, and a combined 9.2L/100km. Our testing took place over a horrid ice storm (in the middle of April, mind you), with frigid conditions and on winter tires – our 12L/100km observation is not realistic by any means and is through no fault of the car. We observed as little as 8.0L/100km on a longer highway run. The fuel tank has a capacity of 63L and should only be fed 91-octane premium.
The interior of the F-Type Coupe is exactly what one expects in a grand touring coupé at this price point. The materials are all finished very nicely and the driving position is very comfortable (once you’re in). Those over six-feet tall may have issues getting in and out, but this is expected from a low-slung two-door. The seat controls feel very premium and are easy to operate, along with all switchgear. Thankfully, while the F-Type’s electronics rely heavily on a touchscreen, there are hard buttons for the majority of frequent tasks.
Standard features on this model include an active sports exhaust, LED headlights, 12-way power seats, a Meridian sound system, park assist with rear view camera, and brake torque vectoring. Paddle shifters, selectable drive modes, LED taillights, automatic climate control, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a navigation system, and a lot more are also standard.
The F-Type Coupe 25t starts at $69,500 in Canada, and stepping up to the convertible is a bit more, at $72,500. Our car had the Performance seats with Windsor leather ($3,990), a Climate Package 2 at $1,840 (dual-zone climate control, heated and cooled seats, heated windshield and steering wheel), a powered tailgate ($510), and 710-watt Meridian sound system ($1,020). Curiously, even at this price point, Jaguar wants an additional $620 for an intelligent entry system. The total sticker for the car is approximately $77,000 before taxes and additional fees.
In terms of rivals, the most obvious one is the Porsche 718 Cayman (reviewed here), which is very similar in terms of engine size and power numbers. The Porsche is decidedly sharper to drive, but the F-Type is just as good a tourer that’s the more out-of-the-box choice. The four-cylinder Jag’s less-sprung nature over the V6 mean it’s a little bit softer overall, but the lack of weight does help it considerably when asked to dance.
As a sports car, the 2018 Jaguar F-Type Coupe P300 is a competent machine, one that has far more usable potential on the everyday drive than its more powerful siblings. The smoother power delivery helps a ton, and those who favour a true rear-drive experience will be happy to know that all-wheel-drive is restricted to V8 models. This is a tourer to have if standing out visually is a high priority, and one that maintains most of the driving goodness that one expects from a traditional British coupé.