Jaguar four-cylinder F-Type review: Is cheaper better?

A four-cylinder engine in a Jaguar is nothing new.

The British marque might be better known for having thunderous V12 powerplants under the bonnet in the past but it’s been stuffing reduced-cylinder motors into its cars since the X-Type saloon arrived at the turn of the century.

However, this is the first time the brand with the leaping cat has plonked a four-pot into one of its sports cars. And not just any sports car – the glorious looking F-Type that until now has boasted a traditional Jaguar soundtrack of gargling V6 and V8 orchestras.

So the big question that needs answering is: when it comes to cylinders, is less really more? Rob Hull spent a week with the new 2.0-litre model to find out.

Is less really more? We spent a week at the wheel of Jaguar's F-Type Convertible with the latest 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine to find out if it's worth the £56,000 asking price You can tell the 4-cylinder powered F-Type from the V6 and V8 models by the vacuum cleaner-like single exhaust outlet  Jaguar only started using 4-cylinder engines in its cars in the early 2000s. In fact, the diesel X-Type (pictured) was the first to have a 4-pot engine The Ingenium 4-cylinder engine - which is also available in the XE, XF and F-Pace - produced 296bhp in its highest state of tune The 2.0-litre engine is far less intimidating than the 3.0-litre V6 unit and the almighty 5.0-litre V8. It makes the car that bit more usable and easier to drive quickly Inside, there's very little to tell the car apart from the rest of the range. The engine sound is the biggest giveaway Peak torque is available from low down in the rev range, which helps the smaller engined F-Type accelerate from a standstill to 60mph in 5.4 seconds - just 0.3 seconds slower than a V6  Jaguar has synthesised a decent engine rumble in the cabin, but when you put the roof down you quickly realise it doesn't sound quite as good from the outside Buying the F-Type with a 4-cylinder engine will only save you around £3,000. So is it worth pocketing that extra cash or splashing out on a V-powered motor? Buying the F-Type with a 4-cylinder engine will only save you around £3,000. So is it worth pocketing that extra cash or splashing out on a V-powered motor?

Buying the F-Type with a 4-cylinder engine will only save you around £3,000. So is it worth pocketing that extra cash or splashing out on a V-powered motor?

The Cars & Motoring verdict

The question originally asked was: when it comes to cylinders, is less really more?

In terms of being able to exploit the performance, undoubtedly. 

It’s the best F-Type for cornering fast, accelerating hard and changing direction with immediate zip.

Is it as good as Porsche’s benchmark 718 Boxster and Cayman, both of which now also come with four-pot motors? I’d have to say no, but the disappointment of losing seconds to the German alternatives on track would be made up for by the admiring glances you’d get in the pit lane.

The 2.0-litre F-Type is much pricier than the Porsches too, setting you back an extra £10,000 or so.

If I was lucky enough to be looking to blow around £50,000 on a stylish two-seater, I wouldn’t choose the Porsche… and I wouldn’t pick the four-cylinder Jaguar either. Because I’d stump up the extra £3,000 or so for the cruder V6 F-Type.

What it lacks in fine-tuned finesse it gains with a biblical exhaust rumble and bountiful power that you’ll never bore of trying to exploit on the road. The V8 R version is even shoutier and more of a struggle to tame, but the unwieldy beast will bowl you over for those reasons alone.

Ultimately, Jaguar’s fewer-cylinder F-Type is the easiest – and as a result, joyless – to drive, and that’s why I’d pay a little bit extra for an engine upgrade.

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