In what seemingly represents an extreme case of model-range expansion, the F-Type line-up now includes a new entry-level 2.0-litre variant that brings down the Leaping Cat sportster’s entry price to just over Dh233k (it goes on sale locally in October). Gasp. A mundane-sounding four-cylinder in an F-Type? As sacrilegious as it sounds, the new addition isn’t without merit.
For starters, the 2.0-litre F-Type’s pricing puts it in the same ballpark as the likes of the Porsche Cayman S, BMW Z4 sDrive35i and Mercedes-AMG SLC 43, which means it’s now competing in a much more volume-rich end of the sportscar segment. The likely result is that F-Type sales could grow significantly, especially in markets where fuel prices are high.
There may be just four pots under the bonnet, but the force-fed motor is respectably potent, eking out 296bhp and 400Nm, which — at least on paper — isn’t massively short of the 375bhp/460Nm kicked out by the full-fat V6 in the F-Type S. It adds up to a 0-100kph sprint of 5.7sec and electronically governed top whack of 250kph; decent, but not electrifying, numbers
That said, the 2.0-litre unit does need to be wound out to deliver its best, even though the spec sheet tells you that 400 Newtons of twist come on stream from just 1,500rpm. The real-world truth is that you need to keep the engine spinning above 3,000rpm if rapid progress is the goal.
The likely result is that F-Type sales could grow significantly, especially in markets where fuel prices are high.
And then there’s the sound… or lack of it. The tale here is a not unfamiliar one, as the 718 Cayman/Boxster suffered a similar fate in ditching the old flat-six for a cleaner-burning turbo four, and it’s the same story here. To put it bluntly, the sonic signature of the four-pot F-Type is plain uninspiring, so if sound quality is vitally important to you, we suggest you consider spending the extra for the V6.
On the plus side, the 2.0-litre F-Type is a sharper handler than its bigger-engined siblings, and that’s down to a 52kg weight saving, most of which takes place over the nose. This means it turns in with a greater sense of eagerness than the V6 or V8, and it feels better balanced overall as its weight distribution over front and rear axles is closer to 50:50. What’s more, the four-cylinder engine doesn’t have enough grunt to overwhelm the traction provided by the rear wheels, so you feel more confident in pushing towards its limits.
Once you get the thing percolating, the 2.0-litre F-Type is a reasonably brisk and entertaining companion, and even its aural qualities improve in the upper half of the rev range, taking on a hard-edged note that seems more congruous with a sportscar.