When Jaguar launched its sleek new sports coupe a few years back, its mission was clear – to go toe to toe with the best of Europe and America, and that includes the industry’s high performance standard bearers like the Porsche 911 and the Chevrolet Corvette.
Right out of the gate the F-Type had a lot going for it – head turning good looks, a stylish and luxurious interior, and a righteous supercharged V8 that made some incredible noise, along with a pair of supercharged and non-supercharged V6 motors. But there was one glaring omission: a manual gearbox offering. These days that’s becoming a more and more common occurrence, as companies like Lamborghini, Ferrari, and McLaren at this point do not offer any vehicles with a manual gearbox.
But the folks at Jaguar want to make a true driver’s car out of the F-Type. So while other manufacturers are ditching manual transmissions, the Brits made the highly unusual decision to actually add the option of a manual transmission on the F-Type for 2016.
But as we mentioned last year, there’s a few caveats and they make things a bit convoluted. Perhaps the simplest way to explain it is that the manual transmission is only available on rear wheel drive versions of the F-Type. Last year that wouldn’t have made much of a difference because all F-Types were rear wheel drive, but that’s changed too.
For 2016, all V8-powered F-Type models will be AWD. So the upshot here is that on the top spec model, not only do you no longer have the option of rear wheel drive rowdiness, you also can’t row-your-own gears. If those two attributes are more important to you than an extra pair of cylinders, the F-Type S will provide both, along with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that belts out 380 horsepower. Which is what we have here.
Aesthetically, the manual equipped F-Type coupe is identical to its automatic brethren, aside from a third pedal on the floor and a rather swank looking six-speed shifter in front of the center console, replete with an aluminum shift knob. The shifter’s action is low effort but with a positive “notchiness” letting you know exactly where the gates are.
But we did note that the clutch could use a little work, as the engagement point is a bit vague and comes in fairly high on the pedal travel, making it a bit harder to jam through the gears quickly from low speed, full throttle bursts. But these are teething pains that are to be expected, and there’s little doubt that Jaguar’s engineers will smooth out the rough edges over the next few model years.
Still, there’s a sense of a missed opportunity here by omitting the V8 models from the equation, not to mention making them all mandatory all-wheel-drive, unlike other F-Type models. If Jaguar is truly serious about competing with the best that Chevrolet, Porsche, BMW and others have to offer, they’re going to have to go the distance with initiatives like this manual gearbox offering – and that means pairing it with the supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that has become synonymous with Jaguar performance over the past few years. Of course, in this climate of manual gearbox options that continue to dwindle, perhaps beggars can’t be choosers.
Let’s take it for a spin:
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