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Opinion: Is the four-cylinder F-Type a proper Jaguar sports car?

Autocar logo Autocar 05/07/2017
Ace engineer and driver Mike Cross (right) with Autocar's Steve Cropley © Autocar Ace engineer and driver Mike Cross (right) with Autocar's Steve Cropley

Two things, above all, needed proving as I took to the quiet, sinuous roads of Warwickshire, sitting in the passenger seat of the latest four-cylinder Jaguar F-Type with ‘Jaguarness’ guru Mike Cross at the wheel.

One was that it was quick enough to honestly be classed as a serious performance Jaguar; the other that it sounded like it.

Proof came quickly. The rear wheels chirped and then big thrust instantly established itself in the small of my back, relieved in five or six nano-instants as the Quickshift gearbox picked up the next ratio at 6500rpm.

Related: Jaguar F-Type arrives with 4-cylinder power (Auto Express)

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The noise was different from the seamless, racebred yowl of Jaguar’s V6 - gruffer and tougher, with a slightly hoarse throb that sounded powerful - and about as far away from expectations of a 2.0-litre four-pot as it’s possible to get. I really liked it.

After a few minutes, Cross voiced my own opinion: that this car had more power than a decent driver could reasonably use on public roads in Britain.

With all those ratios and all that low-down torque, the F-Type seemed to respond instantly to any demand, and with an inspiring sound. You could hear the engineering and I was impressed.

If I were a buyer in 2017, I’m still not certain I’d have the courage to opt for the four-pot over a proven mill that’s only a bit more expensive and 50% bigger, even though I’d doubtless feel I should.

Yet, as Cross pointed out, downsizing is the future, even in cars this performance-focused.

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Related: The rise, fall and phenomenal rise of Jaguar cars (Read Cars)

The rise, fall and phenomenal rise of Jaguar cars: Jaguar is enjoying a period of extraordinary growth these days. In 2016 it achieved record global sales of 148,730 vehicles, an astonishing jump of 77% over the previous year. That figure comes from Jaguar itself, but is easily supported by outside sources – industry analyst focus2move puts the annual growth even higher, at 84%.In sales terms, Jaguar remains the junior partner alongside its sister company Land Rover, which sold just over 430,000 units last year. But the gap is narrowing. Land Rover outsold Jaguar by 2.5 to one last year, but back in 2012 the ratio was 4.6 to one. Global sales grew from 60,000 in 2010 to 151,000 in 2016, according to focus2move.Jaguar’s current position is astonishing when you think of how much trouble the once great brand was in the late 20th century. Here we look at its proud beginnings, its descent into major financial difficulty and its subsequent recovery. The rise, fall and phenomenal rise of Jaguar cars

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