I have driven many hundreds of kilometres in a variety of 3.0 and 5.0-powered F-TYPE Jaguars but aside from a brief acquaintance at Kyalami racing circuit, the turbocharged 2.0 derivative had escaped my clutches until Jaguar’s press department kindly delivered a white convertible example to my doorstep.
To the uninitiated, the 300PS four-cylinder version could easily pass off for the hairy-chested, rumbling 5.0 V8 if it weren’t for the markedly smaller and less flash alloy wheels, but that didn’t stop many road-users from casting envious glances nor did it stop my new neighbour from requesting an outing in what he described as a gorgeous car.
Convertibles are hardly my cup of tea, but I concede they are more relevant to two-seaters than to four-seaters and in this instance, the ease of raising and lowering the canvas top is remarkable. A mere prod of a button converts the Jag from open to shut or vice versa in a matter of seconds so rain squalls are of no consequence. Sure, wind noise is more evident than in a fixed-head coupe and visibility isn’t optimal, but the best thing is this F-TYPE looks its most alluring with the hood down, not something you can say about all rag-tops.
The interior is classic F-TYPE which means its snug and cosy and endowed with a cockpit-like environment occasioned by the low-slung, form-hugging seats divided by a prominent centre console extension. There are a few bits of plastic on show that could be more tactile, but overall, the interior ambience is inviting and feels decently screwed together, something endorsed by a pleasing lack of rattles and squeaks as well as by the near-absence of any scuttle shake.
What readers will want to know though, is how the 2.0 F-TYPE drives. The answer doesn’t take long to find but its real virtues don’t lie exactly where you might imagine as I found the relaxed disposition of this version to be its greatest asset.
That’s not to say the outright performance is lacking. In truth, it’s not too far behind the 3.0 on full song as the 0-100 time of 5.7s confirms and in Dynamic mode, a series of pops and burbles from the exhaust add to the grin factor. The engine note rather obviously lacks the aural stimulation of the wailing six or the rumbling V8, but it is in keeping with the car’s sporting disposition and in normal driving mode, it is discreet and therefore makes for relaxed cruising.
And here’s the rub. A closer inspection of the engine outputs reveals that a healthy 400 Nm torque peak is on tap from a mere 1 500 rpm all the way to over 4 000rpm which means the delectably smooth and rapid-shifting 8-speed auto – activated by paddle-shifters – doesn’t have too much work to do.
All this tells you the 2.0 is therefore a very acceptable companion on a relaxed Sunday drive but should the need arise to lay down the gauntlet, it will gather up its skirts and head for the horizon with appropriate energy levels.
While doing so, the lower mass over the front axle delivers a more nimble feel aided by wonderfully accurate steering responses at all speeds, so this F-TYPE might well suit the fairer sex as well – except for the fact that interior oddments spaces are limited and that the boot, with spare wheel in-situ, offers a decidedly sparse and poorly-shaped 207 litre capacity.
The reduced engine mass also helps with the ride which, even on 275/40R18 rubber, is beautifully judged, with the inherent firmness perfectly massaged by an underlying pliancy that in no way allows body roll to sully the controlled feel.
And finally, what the four-cylinder mill lacks in aural terms or in outright grunt, it makes up for with lower emissions and a lesser thirst that over one week of varied use amounted to around 11.2 l/100km.
(Premier Auto are the official Jaguar Land Rover importers for Zimbabwe)