Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The most popular F-Type engine is the least powerful in the range. Badged P300, it’s a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that’s offered only with rear-wheel drive and a smooth but occasionally slow-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s powerful enough to make the F-Type feel quick – even if certain hot hatches can show it a clean pair of heels – but needs working pretty hard to deliver its potential. Its exhaust note sounds a bit dreary, too, despite the odd pop and crackle when you back off the accelerator. All in all, the P300 has too many excellent rivals in its price range to stand out.
Our favourite F-Type engine is the P450, a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 with 444bhp. It is noticeably quicker and more muscular than the 2.0-litre, providing enough acceleration to pin you back in your seat, with a snarling exhaust note that turns into a guttural roar as you chase the red line. It’s available with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and is markedly more expensive than the P300, but it feels significantly more special.
The P575 – exclusive to the F-Type R – is a version of the same V8 engine, but with even more power. With no less than 567bhp, it gives you enough acceleration to match the pace of some supercars. A sports exhaust gives it one of the most hilariously brutish engine notes you can find on any new car on sale, but don’t worry; if you like your neighbours, there’s a setting to quieten the exhaust on start up. So why isn’t the P575 our favourite F-Type? Well, although it’s eye-wateringly powerful, it’s just too much of a financial leap from the P450 to be recommended.
Rivals such as the Porsche 718 Cayman, 911 Coupé and Alpine A110 are much lighter than the F-Type, and you feel its greater weight on the road. Attacking a corner with gusto and it feels less nimble, and its steering isn’t as feelsome, although it is precise. Even the rear-wheel-drive models are stable and entertaining in the wet, without the spiky, unpredictable tendencies of previous rear-drive F-Types. The four-wheel-drive models are even more impressively sure-footed.
Four-cylinder F-Types have conventional steel spring suspension, which gives you a ride that’s sports car firm but not overly bumpy. Progress never becomes uncomfortable, but you’re always aware of undulations in the road as the car's wheels pass over them.
V8-powered models come with adaptive suspension, which improves ride comfort while helping to counteract body pitch and lean in corners. This setup still leaves the ride a little unsettled on scruffy surfaces, but is that bit more supple, particularly around town.
Every F-Type has an eight-speed automatic gearbox that shifts smoothly but can be hesitant if you ask for a sudden burst of pace. You can manually shift using the paddles on the steering wheel, and the gearbox reacts more promptly when you do so. Switching to Dynamic mode makes the gearbox more alert and sharpens the accelerator response.
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