What is it?
Why would I buy it?
Drop-dead gorgeous looks, Great value compared to V8 version
Why would I avoid it?
Not as fast as it looks, Muted exhaust note
In some ways it’s difficult to give you a clear idea of what this particular Jaguar F-Type is all about. Sitting pretty in red, it is absolutely stunning to look at with its broad haunches, sinewy stance, sharp detailing and that sinister fascia. However, this version is no wolf in wolf’s clothing. No, wolves are nowhere as docile as what we have with us here. Say hello to the F-Type P300; in other words, a new entry-level version that’s powered by a four-cylinder engine. Yes, a four-pot motor underneath that gorgeous looking shell. Let that sink in.
In theory, the F-Type P300 blurs the line between high-power sports cars and luxury tourers. It looks just as gobsmacking as the supercharged V8 F-Type and attracts as many eyes balls but because it’s powered by a relatively small 2-litre motor, Jaguar has been able to price it much lower than the rest of the F-Type line-up. However, is this four-cylinder F-Type a sports car you would want to buy for thrills?
How is it on the inside?
Inside, the P300 uses the same design and layout as the V8 F-Type which means sliding inside the cabin is still an exercise in mixed emotions. Next to the likes of AMG GT and the R8, this cabin looks a little dated, especially the displays, but there is no denying that it oozes quality as well as its own unique approach to design. Bits like the exterior door handles, which sit flush with the body and pop out when you unlock the car, and the centre air vents that emerge from the top of the dash, add a lot of theatre to the drive. The F-Type’s got character for sure though its cabin is not quite as space-age as the recent interior treatments adopted by the Germans.
It may not be as jazzy as we would like, but the F-Type’s cabin is surprisingly spacious. Although it’s a two-seater, it doesn’t feel cramped – there is plenty of knee room and good amount of headroom despite the low-slung roofline. Speaking of low, the driving position is spot on and the view outside is great by sports car standards. To my surprise, the F-Type turned out to be comfortable even after long hours of driving, mainly thanks to those snug yet highly supportive bucket seats.
If you are looking for a sports car with multi-stage traction control, five different settings for the power delivery and three more to change the ferocity of gear changes, you would be disappointed. The F-Type has none of those – it is quite old school that way. That said, you do get a Dynamic driving mode and switchable active exhaust. The R-Dynamic variant that we have here on test is well equipped and comes with LED headlamps, 19-inch alloy wheels, park assist, ambient lighting, a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system and electrically adjustable seats. The crispness and response of the infotainment system, however, is nowhere as slick as the competition.
I may be nit-picking at this point, but if you are buying something that costs north of Rs 1 crore, it should have the best of in-car tech, right? How about the driving experience, then? Is it the worth the price tag?
How does it drive?
Moving onto the highlight of this review i.e. the 2-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged motor that you also get in the XE and the XF. In the F-Type, it feels like a different beast altogether thanks to the lower kerb weight. Dishing out 300bhp of power and 400Nm of torque, it isn’t the most powerful engine in the world, neither is it loud in that ‘hey-look-at-me’ kind of way. It is a flexible motor though, offering most of its torque from as low as 1,500rpm. What this means is that you have strong albeit linear pulling power right from the word go. Our shoot and test loop included city traffic, expressway blasts and valley runs and the F-Type coped adequately. Sure, the ride is a little firm, but this Jag never feels out of its element. Unlike the 500+bhp V8 version, this car can be driven with vigour without worrying too much. Around town, you can feel every lump and bump (those 19-inch wheels certainly don’t help in ironing out imperfections) and although the underlying firmness is noticeable, it’s not that uncomfortable. The F-Type’s ride is definitely more forgiving than the rock hard AMG GT which errs on the extreme side.
In the standard driving mode, the F-Type P300 can be a tad lethargic in its response, with some lag from the 8-speed ZF automatic before the engine comes on song and pulls strongly at around 2,500rpm. Dialling up Dynamic mode certainly improves the experience by heightening the throttle response although it makes the car a little jittery in stop-start traffic. The overall response from the drivetrain in Dynamic mode is sharp, with inputs from the loud pedal working well with the 8-speed auto which hangs onto lower gears and upshifts only past 5,500rpm. In our acceleration tests, the F-Type took a smidge over six seconds to complete the 0-100kmph sprint and that’s the thing – in actual fact, it’s a pretty quick sports car but the turbocharged engine is so linear with the way it delivers power, it lacks that sense of theatre. Even in sharp uphill corners, it is difficult to wag the tail out as the Pirelli P-Zeros hardly ever seem to scrabble for grip. Although in hindsight the lack of tail out action might be down to the open rear differential.
Thanks to the smaller engine, Jaguar has been able to drop nearly 50kgs off of the front axle. Naturally, this has improved the initial turn-in response, making the P300 very pointy compared to the V8. The feedback from the steering, on the other hand, is still decent if not great. All in all, the F-Type remains a sweet handler – great body control to rely on and quick to respond to steering inputs.
Should I buy one?
It may lack the spine-tingling noise or the relentless shove of the supercharged V8, but there is no doubting the F-Type P300’s performance abilities and everyday versatility. The four-cylinder offers more than enough go for most occasions and because it isn’t ludicrously powerful, the P300 is easier and a lot more rewarding to drive on the limit. With its taut chassis, sharp turn-in, plenty of mechanical grip and a responsive drivetrain, the four-cylinder F-Type is rather good at hooning from point A to B, especially when there are corners involved.
Where does it fit in?
In isolation, the F-Type P300 may not seem like great value, at Rs 92.50 lakhs ex-showroom. However, next to the 5-litre V8 version which costs over Rs 2.20 crores, it represents a great bargain. Price wise, it’s direct rivals include Porsche’s 718 range and the Ford Mustang.