The ‘new’ F-Type is of course nothing of the sort, being instead a mid-life refresh of the two-seater that’s been with us since 2012., previously wingman to the original F-Type’s designer, Ian Callum, has evolved the car’s classical good looks: same fabulous proportions, new maturity to the faintly I-Pace-esque face.
Inside, the cockpit gets a 12.3-inch digital driver display pinched from the I-Pace but running bespoke software and graphics. Configure it as you wish, from a giant central tacho flanked by secondary info displays through a more trad twin-dial arrangement to a full-screen map.
Much changed on the P300?
Not much, no. For your money you get the new look, the new cabin tech (CarPlay compatibility and the new driver’s instruments) and… that’s about it. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it? Kind of, though an injection of quality into some of the cabin materials would have been nice, as would less salty pricing – it’s hard to configure a handsome P300 for much less than First Edition cars are nearly.
But 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 2000rpm.
Do I look like I care about the four-cylinder? Let’s talk R
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 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 567bhp 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.) It’s also 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.
Jaguar F-Type coupe: verdict
This is a very light facelift. R customers will notice a difference, should they drive new and old back to back, but P300 customers won’t, because there are no differences to feel.
But the car’s even better looking than it was before, the new driver instruments are a welcome addition (even if the different modes are a little fiddly to shift between, certainly more so than Audi’s similar Virtual Cockpit system), as is CarPlay, and the driving experience remains richly rewarding.
The four-cylinder, 2.0-litre P300 coupe was always our favourite F-Type. That remains the case. Most of its competition is smaller and mid-engined and this, together with the handsome good looks of the Jag’s front-engined silhouette, marks the F-Type out as something distinctively and attractively old school. If only the four-cylinder was a little less thirsty (expect mpg in the mid-20s in mixed use) and more keenly priced.