Opinion : Jaguar F-Type 2020 facelift – a case of good, good, why?

Some might say that a car as pretty as the Jaguar F-Type probably didn’t need facelifting. Although the X152 was said to be based upon a shortened XK platform, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the proportions and detailing of this beautiful sports car. But the industry never stands still and, even if you’re a carmaker in the enviable position of selling one of the best-looking new cars in the world, you can’t rest on your laurels and leave things unchanged – in the case of the Jaguar F-Type, that’s a real pity… but that’s where we came in.

So, for 2020, Jaguar’s halo (and only) sports car gets a fresh new look, which thankfully doesn’t change too much. According to Jaguar, the main purpose of the 2020 facelift was to introduce a more ‘assertive’ look while introducing a raft of technical changes, as well as a higher-quality interior. Hardly radical stuff, but important tweaking in an era when cars are defined, and ultimately aged, by their driver-assistance tech and infotainment.

There’s good news. At the top of the range, there two 5.0-litre supercharged V8s to choose from – one new one with 444bhp, and the old range-topping 567bhp version. The range has been simplified with the 567bhp versions available in four-wheel-drive form only, and in the most dynamic R specification. Performance is up there, and all most people will ever need on the road – 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and on to a maximum speed of 186mph.

The 444bhp version isn’t far behind. For most people, its 4.4 second 0-60mph time and maximum speed of 177mph will be more than enough. You want one of these, and it’ll either come in the entry-level trim guise or R-Dynamic. I do like the fact that they’re making the V8 version work so hard in an era that’s very much into downsizing. Yes, there’s an entry-level 2.0-litre turbocharged Ingenium four-cylinder version producing 296bhp, but it’s still quick with a 0-60mph time of 5.4 seconds and a maximum speed is 155mph. It’s also rear-wheel drive only. It’s refreshing, and very much in keeping with the F-Type’s sporting ethos in a world that’s rapidly becoming overrun by SUVs. So, this is all good, yes? We’ll come to the why in a moment…

The interior remains pretty much unchanged, aside from a marked lift in tactile quality

New stuff isn’t exactly in abundance here. There’s a new ‘quiet mode’ for the new active exhaust systems on the V8 models (no bad thing when you’re leaving early) to help prevent neighbourhood disturbances when owners leave home early or arrive late. Inside, it’s a case of incremental updates with higher-quality materials, and a more competitive 12.3-inch digital screen for the driver and a Range Rover-style 10-inch Touch Pro infotainment system in the centre console – on this score, Jaguar is catching up with its rivals.

The other good news is the F-Type’s styling has been modernised without being changed radically. The main change is at the front, where it gets a new, shapelier, bonnet new bumpers and striking new headlights. It’s here where the mods are the most apparent, because the slimmer LED headlights are now horizontal, rather than vertical, and are framed by new daytime-running lights. They appear to make the car look markedly wider, although the reality is that it is the same size as before.

Does this front-end treatment look better? No, it doesn’t. But it does look more striking and gives the car more attitude and road presence, with its less delicate front end and wider grille. This reflects an industry direction towards more aggressive-looking cars – which doesn’t do this car any favours at all. The old F-Type might have made lots of noise through its exhausts, but it sure as hell didn’t look like it would want to kick sand in your face and steal your beer money, whereas this one does.

So, why the ‘why‘? Well, the best model in the old range has gone. The V6 supercharged model is no more, dropped because that engine is being supplanted by the lower-powered V8, and the new straight-six Ingenium engine won’t fit without a massive internal rejig that the low sales of the F-Type simply wouldn’t justify. Although Jaguar says the 444bhp V8 has it covered, I’m not so sure – the V6 was beautifully balanced, and seemed to be the optimum model. The four-cylinder F-Type, of course, has the balance, but no matter how hard it tries, it simply doesn’t have the soundtrack. The F-Type is also now automatic-only, which will no doubt upset those who like to shuffle their own gears.

Despite that, I’m glad we still have the F-Type, and Jaguar seems to be backing it. Accountants might question its continued existence when the SUVs and I-Pace are doing all the business, but that’s to miss the point. Now we have an F, it would be a shame to lose it, allowing it to whither on the vine. I’m old enough to remember Jaguar post the E-type and, although the XJ-S was a fine thing, what it didn’t have was the E’s sporting image. So, we don’t want to go back to the days of Jaguar not having a sports car at all.

No matter what it costs…

Keith Adams

13 Comments

  1. Modern sports cars such as the new and old F Type, are better engineered, safer, more reliable, and usually more powerful than the classics. However, in my view, and I speak only for myself, these modern sports cars are for the birds. I would get no pleasure out of owning a new F Type, because I would keep saying to myself: “For less or similar money I could be driving a nicely restored XK-120, XK-140…or a beautiful Suffolk SS-100 replica”.

    NOT having GPS, NOT having all sorts of modern bells and whistles, NOT having digital gauges and carbon-fibre this and that, while enjoying classic lines and glittering chrome wire spoke wheels…that’s automotive nirvana to me. Driving down a country road on a sunny day in an XK-120, my E Type OTS, or most other classics, fills my soul with a contentment and pride of ownership that no modern sports car can even begin to compete with. I know some people will turn their noses up at this, but I am speaking but for myself, even though I know there are plenty of others on my wavelength. I am glad that Jaguar, even though not British-owned for a long time, is producing a new F Type…because at least it is a sports car…but again, modern “supercars” are not my cup of tea. To those eager to pounce on my comments I say: to each his own…and live and let live.

  2. Thanks for your usual good write-up, Kieth and I look forward to seeing the facelifted cars. The F-type always needed a six but will never see one. Thank goodness the V8 is retained and I know from experience that the lower powered rear drive V8 is a sensible offering. The demise of the V6? I’m of two minds here, it was an ugly, heavy engine and one is never able to drive a V6 without being conscious that it’s not a V8.
    F-Type is a wonderful car and I will buy a used V8 soon.

  3. The saddest thing that you missed out on is that there is no longer a manual gearbox option, only the 8 speed automatic. If this is anything like the 8-speed auto in the XE that Mrs.S. had for a couple of months whilst they had a second go at building hers to the spec she actually ordered, this is a bad thing.

    And anyway, sports cars should have manual gearboxes,. Full stop!

    • I agree with you Adam that a real sports car needs a manual gearbox. Unfortunately manual stick shifting is going the way of the dinosaur. In North America right now only ONE PER-CENT OF ALL VEHICLES SOLD ARE NOT AUTOMATIC.Younger people, for the most part, don’t know how to drive with a manual box and use a clutch…and unfortunately most don’t want to know! It won’t be too long before a sports car, be it modern or classic, won’t sell without an automatic. There was a time when, for example, a Corvette or a Series III E Type with an automatic “slushbox” was seriously frowned upon. Eventually it will be the ones with the manual boxes and clutches that will be “radioactive”…so sad…

      • Yes but if the market for manual transmission is only 1% then why would a manufacturer go to the considerable time and expense of developing one?
        And ‘slush boxes’ have moved on a very long way from the days of the E-Type.
        The surprise for me is that take up of auto boxes (mostly in ‘non prestige’ cars) in UK in particular is still so low.

  4. “But the industry never stands still,” That was true in America in the 1950s, when the way it survived/flourished was to produce new models year after year after year – and tell the public they must buy the latest tweaking. Has anything changed?

  5. I actually prefer the new lights – I thought it was the worst bit of the old car as they just looked un-shapely and just an after thought to a sleek design. Its good to see that the F Type has not be pensioned off in the world of SUVs and electric cars.

  6. I think the F Type is crucial for the “sporting” image Jaguar are selling. In the same way that everyone buying a Porsche Macan is tapping into the sporting legacy of the 911 etc

    I’m not sure whether the F Type has sold better than the previous XK, a shame they couldn’t make a modern day XJS type tourer coupe as well, but I guess everyone wants SUVs these days…

  7. I’m 100% with Lawrence – a man after my own heart. I despise aggression in any form and having an aggressive looking car must say a lot about one’s personality. Most gentle folk with care for their fellow man does not need to carry a weapon and look scary!

  8. I think the original was gorgeous and the new version looks better.

    The car needed a refresh after the time it has been on the market.

    As the proud new owner of an XF Sportbrake (Estate in English) I recommend to anyone who hasn’t been in a new Jaguar for a while to have a look – they are impressive. The recent facelift on the XE is very impressive and removes the previous blandness

    • Hi Andrew,

      I echo your comments on the F Type – it is car porn for me!

      With regards to the XE, I very nearly bought one. After agreeing a price (official quotes on paper) I went in to do the paperwork but was then told this could not be on a factory order. There were no ‘in stock’ cars with the spec, options or any of my preferred colours so I ended up walking out and gave my business to another manufacturer, who was very accommodating.

      • There seems to be a lot of difference between dealers. Stratstone Newcastle were unbelievably helpful (and got my business) but Farnell in Leeds were hopeless

  9. Nice car, shame about those Audi R8-esque headlamps. I genuinely don’t think they do the F-Type any favours in the looks department. I’ll continue to salivate over the pre-facelift example.

    As for engines, a 380hp 3-litre 6-cylinder engine is still being offered for the F Type sold in North America for the 2021 Model Year, so I’m not sure why it isn’t being extended to the home market.

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