Pretoria – In essence, it’s parts-bin engineering at its very best, as Jaguar combines its new Ingenium entry-level two-litre turbopetrol four with a fined-down version of the all-aluminium F-Type two-seater to create a hard-revving, agile little sportster that will be very different to drive from its overtly muscular siblings.
And it’s nobody’s pussycat, leaping from a standstill to 100km/h in a claimed 5.7 seconds and topping out at 249km/h – about the same as the original 1961 E-Type with its 3.8-litre XK straight six.
But whereas the Series 1 E-Type delivered peak torque at 4000rpm via a four-speed Moss gearbox that took some learning, the two-litre F-Type kicks out 221kW (the highest output per litre of any production Jaguar engine yet) and 400Nm from just off idle at 1500rpm, through an eight-speed auto transmission.
The new F-Type is also 52kg lighter than its V6 sibling, most of which is over the front axle, enabling the suspension technicians and test drivers to set the chassis up for more precise steering response and better balance, ideally suited to more twisty roads.
And it makes the right snarling noises, too, thanks to a carefully-tuned active exhaust with just one big tailpipe for maximum auspuff with minimum weight, in contrast to the central twin pipes on the V6 and the outboard quad pipes on the V8 models.
Lightweight 18 inch rims and slimline seats save more weight, while special chrome and aluminium trim elements, a Touchpro infotainment system and a sleek frameless rear-view mirror underline the driver-focused feel.
The two-litre F-Type will be released in South Africa in the fourth quarter of 2017; prices will be announced closer to the launch.