Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • High-powered petrol-only engines
  • Turbocharged 2.0-litre certainly isn’t slow…
  • But supercharged V6s and V8s feel more special

Forget the electrically propelled Jaguar I-Pace – F-Type performance is delivered by suite of petrol-fuelled motors. And very effective it is, too.

Entry-level four-cylinder Jaguar F-Type Coupe

Introduced in 2017, there’s a four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged unit found in many of Jaguar Land Rover saloon, estate and SUV models. Now badged P300 – for Petrol and 300hp – the smallest F-Type engine produces 400Nm of torque from just 1,500rpm, good enough for a 5.7-second 0-62mph time. Top speed is 155mph.

While it has appropriate pace, its soundtrack lacks sufficient drama compared with other F-Types, but you do have the added fun of rear-wheel drive and a slick eight-speed automatic gearbox.

This is still a fabulous sports car. Impressively, the four-cylinder turbo engine is potent enough to feel entirely at home in the F-Type (itself not a particularly light car) and not like some out-of-its-depth imposter. While the top end isn’t the stuff of dreams it’s powerful enough and the engine’s flexibility is a real asset, the unit pulling with conviction from just 2,000rpm.

Bellowing V8 performance

As if a 5.0-litre V8 wouldn’t be powerful enough, Jaguar sought to create a substantial gap between it and the smaller V6s by supercharging it. In P450 guise it produces a very healthy 450hp. We'll report back our full driving impressions of this range-plugging model later in 2020.

The chasm in performance – not to mention the difference in character – between the P300 and the F-Type R is far greater than the gap that exists between the Porsche Carrera and Turbo S 911, for example, and underlines just how much potential the P300 engine leaves untapped in the F-Type’s package.

The R now develops 575hp from its supercharged V8, squirts that twist to the road via all-wheel drive and weighs the same as a P300 carrying two-and-a-half passengers. (Impossible, obviously, but you get the idea – the R’s a whopping 223kg heavier.)

Handling

  • Beautifully balanced, but playful when you want it to be
  • AWD models offer tremendous traction in damp weather…
  • But the fun factor is diluted a little with the extra grip

Here the Jaguar F-Type Coupe excels: it’s a confidence-inspiring sports car to drive quickly, yet won’t alienate less experienced drivers. That said, those who’re happier at higher speeds will love the direct and perfectly weighted steering, imperious balance and stable, level cornering. The body is a huge 80% more rigid than the F-Type Convertible, and that doesn't exactly handle badly.

Higher-powered models get a limited-slip differential as standard, which makes sure the optimum level of power is sent to each rear wheel during cornering. They also get upgraded brakes and larger 19-inch alloy wheels.

Optionally available are Carbon Ceramic Matrix (CCM) brakes. These ultra-high performance stoppers mean you’ll have to plump for 20-inch alloy wheels, which have a negative influence on ride quality, but make a significant difference to the way the car stops.

P300 handling rated

All good news, but it’s the weight the four removes from the car’s nose relative to the V8s that really makes the difference. The P300 is far simpler than the more powerful F-Types, with passive dampers, an open mechanical differential (the V8s use e-diffs) and modest tyre sizes and anti-roll bars. But it all adds up to a deliciously accessible and rewarding driving experience. The spring and damping rates are beautifully judged: pliant enough for cobbled city streets but with real control on epic mountain roads. There’s never the sense of the car’s mass getting out of control, as can be the case with Alpine’s ultra-soft A110.

The steering is linear, nicely weighted and a handy source of information when you’re working out exactly how hard to lean on the front axle. There are driver modes, of course, but in the P300 they’re only felt in the engine and transmission – so pop it in Dynamic mode, change gears yourself (the eight-speed auto isn’t as miraculously fast and smooth as Porsche’s twin-clutcher, but neither does it ever detract from the drive) and knock the stability control right off – and revel in all that’s special about a balanced, front-engined, rear-drive sports car.

Uprated F-Type V8 R handling

Riding on adaptive suspension, which can alter the car’s handling to cope with different road conditions, means that not only is the F-Type V8 R comfortable, it can turn into a very rewarding sports car literally at the touch of a button.

Additionally, a torque-vectoring system uses the brakes to gently tighten-up your line when cornering. Jaguar’s package is very impressive, being virtually impossible to detect it working. You just pick a line, point the wheel in the required direction and the car does the rest, allowing you to carry more speed through it, amplifying the work of the limited-slip diff.

F-Type V8 R – further dynamic improvements

This has received a raft of detail chassis changes, from new springs and anti-roll bars to new knuckles, hubs and wheel bearings to boost toe and camber stiffness. Effectively the result of lessons learned on the F-Type SVR and the wild Project 8 all-wheel-drive super-saloon, the new R is an impressively rapid and composed GT, one that replaces the P300’s playfulness with a merciless sense of grip and composure.

On streaming wet roads the R’s sheer footprint and nicely rear-biased four-wheel drive system work wonders, as do the sharp but measured responses of the supercharged V8, which you’re soon merrily wringing out despite the weather. There’s a firm sophistication to the ride and, together with the heft and directness of the steering, a very different personality.

The only incongruities are the same plastics that look cheap on the £55k four-cylinder, now that they’re in a car costing twice as much, and the odd and very artificial thwack that’s been engineered into upshifts in the Dynamic drive mode – keep it smooth, please.

Pre-facelift models detailed

Whatever speed you drive the F-Type R, there’s a sense of occasion about it. Even negotiating city centre crawls at sub-30mph, teasing vibrations generated by its supercharged powerplant, using the seats, steering wheel and pedals as conduits, hint at its latent muscularity.

Gently feathering the throttle pedal instantly builds ferocious revs complemented by bellowing crackles as you lift off. If passers-by somehow missed sight of the car, there’s no escaping its noise, further amplified by the tempting exhaust button on the centre console.

But this is no showy boulevard cruiser. The F-Type R is an engaging and lively sports car that demands your concentration. Floor the accelerator at any speed and the Jaguar hurtles horizonwards, seamlessly dropping a ratio or two on its eight-speed Quickshift automatic gearbox as you turn landscapes into blurs.

Switching the gearbox and other settings to Sport mode makes the revs scream higher, sharpening the rest of the F-Type’s responses too: it’s wilder yet never wavers into full-on feral. It’s a heady and addictive mix, the Jaguar slithering around further when you minimise the effects of traction control, yet you remain feeling in command, making the F-Type twitch at your behest as your corner with your right foot supplementing the action at the wheel. It’s not as playful as the discontinued rear-wheel drive R was, but even with AWD it will still dance to your tune.

So what of the SVR? Like the F-Type R, you get a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission, allied with four-wheel-drive. That should mean that it’s a lot less intimidating than it might be – this amount of power and rear-wheel drive only, for instance, could have made this a real handful to drive.

Unsurprisingly, it's fast and loud. There's a new titanium and Inconel-alloy exhaust, which does a wonderful job at deepening the V8’s bassy backbeat. Too loud? It can be – which might put off shrinking violets. But then, shy and retiring types won't exactly love the SVR's bodykit.

Acceleration is scintillating, a truly magnificent experience. With all that power, and the assistance of four-wheel drive, it leaps off the line cleanly. The supercharger is non-too loud, but its shove it obvious and immediate, and it makes mincemeat of single-carriageway overtaking manoeuvres.

Discontinued in 2019: V6 F-Type Coupe

This was the sweetest spot in the F-Type range, with livelier performance, the high-pitched supercharged whine of the engine and a broad mix of gearbox and drive types. Many will mourn its passing.

First up was the P340 – this 3.0-litre unit produced 340hp and 450Nm of pulling power from 3,500rpm, this was an engine that you have to get working quickly to extract the most speed from it. And what a delight it is to do so.

Both the six-speed manual and eight-speed auto reached 161mph, while the 0-62mph benchmark takes 5.7 seconds for the former and 5.3 for the self-shifter. Power is sent exclusively to the rear wheels.

Not enough? There was the P380, or V6 S. With the same transmission offerings, the modest-sounding upgrades of 380hp and 460Nm at the same engine speed don’t read as though they’ll unleash much extra performance. Don’t be fooled.

Top speed jumped to 171mph for both transmissions, while 0-62mph times are shaved to 5.5 seconds for the manual and 4.9 for the automatic.

Finally for the dfunct 3.0-litre engines, there was the automatic-only P380 AWD, also known as the V6 S AWD. Given the additional traction offered by all-wheel drive, you’d be forgiven for assuming it would accelerate even quicker. It doesn’t. Although top speed remains static at 171mph, the additional 80kg of weight blunts the 0-62mph time back down to 5.1 seconds.