In the highly unlikely event that I was to stumble into a lot of money, my four-wheel wish list would probably immediately empty the coffers. But in terms of a car that is a few rungs of the automotive ladder above what I would ordinarily consider, and might just be obtainable one day, the Jaguar F-Type occupies top spot.
Admittedly, that would probably be with its sumptuous 5.0-litre V8, but going some way towards the human race’s combined efforts to not kill every living organism on Earth, there is another option: the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder F-Type.
Let’s get this out of the way: no, it can’t manage the exhaust pyrotechnics or straight-up propulsion-based thrills that double the number of chambers provide with some gusto, yet the “baby” Jag still makes a decent noise, especially with exhaust button engaged to catalyse modest pops on downshifts.
I am driving the Convertible R-Dynamic, which will devour 0-to-100kph in 5.7 seconds. That is some way below the 3.7 seconds of the grown-up F-Type Convertible – as is the 250kph top speed (versus 314kph). Realistically, though, it has everything you need, and more, to enjoy on the public roads. It’s quick in a manageable manner, although with its rear-wheel drive, you can still get the back tyres loose if you aren’t careful. It’s the perfect urban sports car – and looks fabulous, particularly from behind, from which vantage point it evokes an (affordable) Aston Martin DB11. A “deployable” rear spoiler that pops up at the touch of a button is always a fun gismo for show-offs to play with at traffic lights, too.
The drop-top element? Despite the daytime temperatures still being in mid-40°C range during my test drive, it creates enough air flow to keep you from heatstroke, without totally ruining your carefully coiffured hairdo. The fabric roof is quick and easy to electronically open and close. Perhaps don’t follow my slightly singed example and apply some sunscreen first, though.
Now, I prefer a good, firm feel to my steering wheel, rather than the finger-flick lightness of many contemporary cars, but the Jag’s is a mite heavy even for my tastes. More troublingly, my attempts to burn less fossil fuel by switching into stop-start mode are hampered by the car permanently stopping a couple of times and refusing to automatically fire up again, only fixed by manually turning the car off and on again.
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Those are my only real complaints, however. The reliably easy-to-use Jaguar Land Rover infotainment system is operated through an eight-inch touchscreen. Optional interior extras on my test car include a flat-bottomed steering wheel, upping the sporty intent, and a rear-view camera, although that probably should be a standard feature in this day and age.
Where Jaguar really comes up trumps with the 2.0-litre F-Type is the pricing: engine downsizing often doesn’t seem to take into account that customers might expect their wallets to be a little fuller should they opt for smaller units. Sadly, that rarely seems to significantly be the case. Take, for example, the EcoBoost version of Ford’s evergreen Mustang – equipped with a 2.3-litre engine, it is actually costlier than a 3.7-litre V6, and more in line with the growling GT.
Jaguar seems to have fathomed that halving the cylinder count should result in a sticker price about 50 per cent down on its full-fat V8 cousin – which is exactly the case here. The convertibles start from Dh283,080, and for that kind of money, you will struggle to find a classier, about-town sports car, especially with the top down.
The specs: 2018 Jaguar F-Type Convertible
Price, base / as tested: Dh283,080 / Dh318,465
Engine: 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 295hp @ 5,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 1,500rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 7.2L / 100km