From the time of its introduction in 2013, the F-Type had a lot going for it—head-turning good looks; a stylish and luxurious interior; a righteous supercharged V8 that made an incredible sounds; and a pair of supercharged and non-supercharged V6 offerings. These features allowed the F-Type, Jaguar’s new halo sports car, to compete with the industry’s high performance standard bearers, the Porsche 911 and the Chevrolet Corvette, but there was one glaring omission from the F-Type: a manual gearbox offering.
That’s becoming a common occurrence, as companies like Lamborghini, Ferrari, and McLaren at this point do not offer a single vehicle 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 unusual decision to add a manual transmission on the F-Type for 2016.
There are a few caveats:
• The manual transmission is only available on rear-wheel-drive versions of the F-Type. (Last year, that wouldn’t have made 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 on the top spec model, you no longer have the option of rear-wheel-drive rowdiness, and you can’t row your own gears.
• If you want rear-wheel-drive and a manual gearbox—rather than an extra pair of cylinders—then the F-Type S will provide them, along with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that belts out 380 horsepower.
Aesthetically, the manual-equipped F-Type coupe is identical to its automatic brethren, aside from a third pedal on the floor and a swanky 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 where the gates are, but the clutch could use a little work, as the engagement point is a bit vague and comes fairly high on the pedal travel—making it harder to jam through the gears quickly from low-speed full-throttle bursts. These are teething pains to be expected, and there’s little doubt that Jaguar’s engineers will smooth out the rough edges over the next model years.
The new manual option is good news for drivers, but there’s still a missed opportunity: the omission of V8 models from the equation, as well as making all-wheel-drive mandatory on the V8s.
If Jaguar is truly serious about competing with the best that Chevrolet, Porsche, BMW, and others have to offer, it will need to go a step further with its manual gearbox offering. That means pairing it with the supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that has become synonymous with Jaguar performance in recent years.
FYI: I have the manual transmission F-Type coming up for review in the very near future.