CARS

Nice Kit­ten Jaguar’s baby F-type is here

Sharp - - CONTENTS - By Matt Bub­bers

Chart­ing the progress of the elec­tric car rev­o­lu­tion. Plus, test driv­ing Jaguar’s new F-type, com­par­ing two speedy ex­otic im­ports, and the fam­ily val­ues of Alfa Romeo’s lat­est.

WE LOVE JAGUAR’S F-TYPE. To drive it is a rau­cous ex­pe­ri­ence, to look at it is a plea­sure, to lis­ten to its su­per­charged V8 is to hear Zeus sling thun­der from the heav­ens. It is an adren­a­line junkie in a vel­vet evening jacket.

And so it was with ex­treme skep­ti­cism that we first heard the news that Jaguar would be de­claw­ing our beloved F-type. The com­pany wanted to cre­ate a more af­ford­able ver­sion and, in do­ing so, an­nounced it would put a dinky 2.0-litre, four-cylin­der mo­tor un­der the F-type’s beau­ti­ful hood.

Upon glanc­ing at its spec­i­fi­ca­tions, how­ever, it ap­pears this new lit­tle mo­tor punches above its weight. With the aid of a tur­bocharger, it makes 296 horse­power and 295 lb-ft of torque. That smaller mo­tor helps the F-type lose 52 kilo­grams, too. Press the starter but­ton and this baby F-type doesn’t roar to life ex­actly, but it does purr. When we found a twisty road, some­thing felt dif­fer­ent. The car turned into corners with less ef­fort. There was a new-found del­i­cacy to the way it han­dles. We were soon car­ry­ing far too much speed through tight turns. Max­i­mum torque ar­rived with the nee­dle in­di­cat­ing 1,500 rpm, pick­ing up the car and throw­ing it out for corners. The eight­speed au­to­matic (no man­ual, we’re sorry to re­port) made the most of the en­gine’s power.

Jaguar’s engi­neers tell us the smaller en­gine im­proves the front/ rear weight dis­tri­bu­tion and al­lowed them to soften the springs and dampers by a few per­cent­age points. That ex­plains why this car flows over the road so ef­fort­lessly, and why it feels so ad­justable mid-cor­ner. It means the most af­ford­able F-type is, in­cred­i­bly, per­haps the sweet­est han­dling of the bunch. You’re less likely to risk los­ing your li­cense in this one, too.

It turns out our skep­ti­cism was en­tirely with­out rea­son. The F-type range now stretches from this $68,500 of­fer­ing for be­gin­ners to the de­ranged, ex­perts-only $139,500 SVR. The for­mer has 296 horse­power, the lat­ter nearly dou­ble, with 575, but both feel like proper Jaguars. There’s now a breadth to the F-type range that shows just how right this sports car re­ally is.

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