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Pretty Kitty: 2018 Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe Test Drive

Jaguar has a long history of making gorgeous works of automotive art. Many think of the XKSS, a masterpiece of muscular grace from the 1950s, as the world’s first supercar. The E-Type of the ‘60s was a sensuous beauty sculpted out of metal and is now considered by many — including the late Enzo Ferrari — to be one of the most beautiful cars ever made. The XJ220 of the ‘90s was once the world’s fastest production car, capable of topping out at 213 mph, and with its eye-pleasing lines and stunning dimensions, it could turn heads almost as quickly.

Those stunners were powered by engine designs no longer seen in modern Jaguars. Like the XKSS, the E-Type ran on straight-six power for years, but the latter model eventually got a V12 under its shapely hood. Although the concept version of the XJ220 had a V12, the production model featured a twin-turbo V6.

For years, V6 and V8 power plants in various states of tune have propelled Jaguar’s modern sports car, the F-TYPE, down roads and around tracks all over the world. In April of 2017, Jaguar announced it would be introducing a four-cylinder option for the 2018 F-TYPE. Having already experienced the manic rush of the 575-horsepower flagship F-TYPE SVR, we knew we had to drive the entry-level model, as well. What our 2018 Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe lacked in displacement and cylinder count, it made up for with surprising power and pleasing dynamics.

F-TYPE Coupe

2018 Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe Exterior

No matter which engine the F-TYPE has, its fundamental looks stay the same. The F-TYPE is one of the most beautiful modern automotive designs on the market. Its flowing profile keeps the purity of an image translated from an inspired mind to a sketchbook. Its athletic haunches show the F-TYPE is a genetic descendent of the breath-taking E-Type.

Standard equipment on the F-TYPE includes LED headlights, door handles that retract to keep the body sleek and aerodynamic, a power rear spoiler that automatically rises and lowers at certain speeds to manage downforce, LED tail lights, and a center-mounted rectangular chrome exhaust outlet. An array of wheel options is available in various sizes; Jaguar equipped our press loaner with an attractive set of 10-spoke, 18-inch wheels.

Even though our F-TYPE wore a coat of modest Fuji White paint, people could not stop staring at it. More than once, we caught people circling the F-TYPE, admiring its design. We spent an entire week with it and found ourselves doing to the same thing multiple times.

F-TYPE Coupe

2018 Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe Interior

Jaguar generously equipped the inside of our F-TYPE. In addition to the standard 12-way power leather/suedecloth seats with memory, Touch Pro System with an eight-inch screen and navigation, and 380-watt Meridian audio system, our F-TYPE had several upgrades. An available Climate Package gave us two-zone climate control and heating for the windshield, seats, and steering wheel. We could see the stars at night up above through the fixed panoramic roof. Getting things out of the back was as easy as pressing a button to raise the power tailgate.

F-TYPE Coupe

2018 Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe Performance

For being the base engine option in the F-TYPE lineup, the Ingenium turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine was shockingly satisfying. Jaguar didn’t just put an I4 in its sports car as an afterthought. It developed the 2.0 in-house, incorporating ceramic turbocharger ball bearings for reduced friction (and greater efficiency), a twin-scroll turbo for shorter spool-up times, and variable intake valve lift for optimum power throughout the rpm range. The end result of that combination of features is 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, which the base F-TYPE exclusively routes through an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive.

At suburban speeds, the F-TYPE was civilized, although the ride quality was sports-car stiff. Its compact dimensions were easy to keep track of in tight spots. When the road in front opened up to high-speed curves, we flicked the switch that controlled the JaguarDrive Control system to select the high-performance Dynamic mode and gently held the right pedal down. The F-TYPE launched forward with a surprising amount of force and urgency.

As our speed increased, the sound coming from the single exhaust pipe grew raspier and angrier. The eight-speed auto upshifted quickly with each tap of the right paddle behind the steering wheel. Body lean and steering feel was appropriate for a sports car that’s more focused on enjoyable street driving than blistering lap times at the track. We didn’t want to be at a course, anyway. We were perfectly happy getting deep into the turbo four’s power band and shooting through the next bend in the road.

We could have driven all day, but the need to eat lunch ended up cutting that particular sunlit journey through the hill country of Central Texas short. It’s a good thing the 2.0 gets an EPA-rated 23 city, 30 highway, and 26 combined mpg because we racked up miles in the F-TYPE in a hurry.**

F-TYPE Coupe

2018 Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe Safety

The F-TYPE coupe comes off of Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich assembly line in the UK with a suite of safety features, including rain-sensing wipers, a rearview camera, a rear parking aid, Emergency Braking, and Lane Departure Warning. You can also add front, side, and curtain airbags; Emergency Brake Assist; and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System to that list.

Jaguar added three optional safety-focused bells and whistles to our car: Blind Spot Monitor and Reverse Traffic Detection, Auto High Beam Assist, and automatically dimming door mirrors. We’re convinced the F-TYPE’s good looks were also an unofficial safety feature. Who would want to run into and damage such a beautiful car?

F-TYPE Coupe

2018 Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe Overall

Prices for the 2018 Jaguar F-TYPE start at $59,900.* Our nicely equipped media car had an as-tested price of $65,663. To discover what a great place the entry level of the F-TYPE lineup is, head to an AutoNation-affiliated Jaguar dealership.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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