Watch out, Porsche: Jaguar readies four cylinder F-Type | Top Gear
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Watch out, Porsche: Jaguar readies four cylinder F-Type

Spy shots show upcoming Jag prototype to fight the Porsche 718 Cayman

  • It was inevitable really: Jaguar is about to follow Porsche’s lead by fitting a four-cylinder turbo to it sportiest model, the F-Type. How do we know this? Because this camouflaged prototype of a facelifted F-Type has been spotted prowling around and a quick DVLA check of its plate (do it yourself, it’s fun) reveals it to be a black Jaguar, first registered on 1 April, with a 2000cc petrol engine.

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  • Assuming this isn’t some sort of experimental prototype (given the production-ready look of the bodywork under the camouflage and that single-exit square exhaust pipe at the back, we highly doubt it) it means an updated F-Type range will stretch all the way from the unhinged 567bhp, 200mph F-Type SVR with its supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine, to this mildly-sensible 2.0-litre four-cylinder model.

  • Likely to slot neatly below the 376bhp supercharged V6 model and possibly replace the lower powered 335bhp S/C V6 model in the range, the engine in question is the turbocharged, direct-injection inline-four from Jag’s new Ingenium engine family. Although we’ve seen plenty of four-cylinder diesel Ingenium engines offered right through the Jaguar and Land Rover line ups, we’re yet to see this new four-pot petrol.

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  • The observant among you will note that you can already buy a four-cylinder petrol turbo, with either 237bhp or 196bhp, in the XE and the Evoque. This though, is the old Ford-derived unit that will soon be replaced. Bread and butter models like the XE, XF, Evoque and Disco Sport are likely to be first to receive the new 4cyl Ingenium petrol, followed in about a year’s time by the more accessible F-Type you see here.

  • When it’s plumbed into the F-Type, expect it to grow some serious chest hair and push up to - or even beyond - the 300bhp mark, enough to bring it into line with the non ‘S’ version of the Boxster and Cayman 718. Jag’s engineers will no doubt be working hard on making it growl louder than its capacity deserves.

  • For those of you currently screaming at your computer, cursing Jaguar for diluting what was always designed to be a very fast and very anti-social sports car, look on the bright side. A new entry-level engine will mean a new entry level price that could dip well below £50,000 for the 4cyl, manual coupe – that’s decent value for a car that looks this good and should offer sprightly handing thanks to a few less kilos under the bonnet.

  • The really clever part about this new Ingenium engine family? It will offer flexibility, just like the BMW/MINI modular engine system with 500cc per cylinder. In the near future then, Jag’s V6 engines will be replaced by 3.0-litre straight-sixes, while a 1.5-litre three-cylinder is under development as an alternative to Jag’s entry-level diesels.

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  • So what’s the verdict, readers? Ford already offers the Mustang with a 4cyl EcoBoost and a proper V8, but is it acceptable for a thoroughbred British sports car to have such a modest engine? Thoughts below, please.

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