2016 Jaguar F-Type S Coupe Manual Review
For the purist who still loves to shift for himself
When Jaguar launched its F-Type in the 2014 model year, it adamantly eschewed the notion that this car was the second coming of the E-type, the 1961-'75 two-seater that Enzo Ferrari once called "the most beautiful car ever built." It was an impossible act to follow, even (or especially) 40 years later. The new car had no inline-six nor V-12, but supercharged V-6 or V-8 power, and it came, at first, with only an eight-speed automatic with paddle-shifters for that near-manual experience without the hassle of a third pedal. It was, inelegantly, a hoot to drive, especially on the track with its driftable oversteer, and true to Jaguar chief designer Ian Callum's personal automotive proclivities, also with a healthy dose of hot rod-style straight-line acceleration.
Its exhaust-note accelerator button, which defaults to the "normal" position every time you start up an F-Type with either engine, offers up so much of an exquisite burble that drivers will find themselves making u-turns just to make another downshift inside a tunnel.
So it was a bit of a surprise and a delight that the luxury brand with one of the most digitized dashes in the business, and a pop-up dial -- the Jaguar "handshake" -- rather than a real, old-fashioned automatic shift selector, announced a full honest-to-William Lyons three-pedal manual option for the 2016 model year. It's only available on the supercharged V-6-powered F-Types, either the "base" 340-horsepower version or the "tuned" 380-horsepower S models, coupe or convertible.
A superfluous all-wheel-drive option also was added for model year '16 (though with the automatic only). The Jaguar F-Type SVR arrives next, with nearly 600 horsepower, for the 2017 model year, following a Geneva auto show unveiling in March. It's turning into a veritable Porsche 911-like menu of variants.
Despite the 21st-century look and feel of everything else inside our beautiful British Racing Green test coupe with camel leather interior, the six-speed manual felt, to this humble reporter, like the only transmission to have with this car; supercharged V-8 option (as noted, unavailable with the stick) be damned. Under-the-tunnel burbling downshifts now came with a quick double-clutch action instead of the automatic's electronic "blip."
But this humble reporter isn't the only critic in the Detroit bureau. The web staff, each of these four roughly half my age or younger, could find no charm in this gearbox. It's loose and a bit vague, and the clutch pedal is tricky in the way it suddenly catches halfway up the pedal travel. No reason to forego the excellent eight-speed automatic just because this is a sportscar. So I find myself writing a review with a split conclusion (more accurately, a 4-1 decision) because, after all, there are no wrong answers. This takes me back to the late 1990s and a previous car magazine-employer, where boss-editors got mad when I announced a split decision in place of the editor/publisher's opinion as gospel. In this case, the car was the torque-bereft, rock-hard suspension Acura Integra Type R, and this reporter found himself on the young-ish, losing side of the argument.
Same motoring hack is on the losing side, once again. The gearbox, while not snick-snicky like a Mazda Miata's at half the price, nor as notchy as a BMW or Porsche's, was far more than adequate. Most importantly, it transforms the Jaguar F-Type. The touchy clutch, when smoothly engaged, cures the driver from the likelihood he or she will light up the rear tires from nearly every launch. Fast cornering tends to be elegant and clean, with yet another double-clutch burble thrown in; you won't look like you're driving a Scion FR-S with Jaguar bodywork.
The car is 22 pounds lighter than an F-Type coupe with the two extra, automatically shifted gears, though you'll go three fewer miles city or highway on each gallon of premium unleaded versus the automatic.
Will the others come around on the manual gearbox Jaguar F-Type? I doubt it and even have to admit, like those old fogeys who found the Integra Type R too harsh to be fun, these young guys are probably right. You can't add autonomy to a manual Jag, after all. Even today, before such automation is added, the F-Type is plenty of fun with just two pedals. But as a purist, I'll take shifting over drifting any day. This is the only way I'd buy one, and yes, this is from someone who gets to drive them for free and who will never be able to afford a Jaguar. In short, the 2016 Jaguar F-Type supercharged 3.0-liter with six-speed manual is the new diesel stick-shift station wagon.
2016 Jaguar F-Type S Coupe Specifications
|Engine:||3.0L supercharged 24-valve V-6/380 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 339 lb-ft @ 3,500-5,500 rpm|
|Layout:||2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe|
|EPA Mileage:||16/24 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H:||176.0 x 75.7 x 51.6 in|