Some people take the trouble to play vinyl records, shoot film for photography, or shift their car's gears manually. Color me guilty on all counts. Jaguar recognizes this tendency with the 2016 F-Type, which can now be optioned with a six-speed manual transmission. Or put another way, not optioned with the eight-speed automatic.
Those of us who enjoy manual shifting may be disappointed to hear that technology has made us obsolete. Case in point, the F-Type's automatic transmission gets the car to 60 mph a full 0.4 second faster than the manual transmission. That's almost half a second.
So choosing the manual transmission is not a question of performance. But, like dropping the needle into an LP's groove, it's a matter of personal engagement, of enjoying the experience. And the Jaguar F-Type offers a truly grand experience.
Jaguar's design legacy
The 2016 Jaguar F-Type S Coupe, the example I drove, is about the most gorgeous car you can buy today. This two-seater's body shows a low cabin nestled between the big rear haunches. While driving this F-Type, I got more than a few thumbs-ups and admiring looks.
Jaguar designer Ian Callum has said he delved into his personal history with the Jaguar cars of his youth when coming up with the F-type, and I think it's an instant classic. The manual transmission seems a good match for that legacy-inspired design.
Jaguar offers the F-Type as a Coupe or Roadster, and with three different engines, two V-6es and a V-8, although you can't get the manual transmission with the V-8. The base Coupe model goes for $65,995, while the F-Type S Coupe comes in at $78,295 with the manual transmission, $1,500 more for the automatic. Options and the Premium plus Vision package, which brought in a blind-spot monitor, rear-view camera, and adaptive headlights, took the total up to a hefty $95,595.
UK buyers, who can lay claim to Jaguar heritage, are looking at £51,260 for the base F-Type Coupe and £60,260 for the F-Type S Coupe with manual transmission. Prices jump in Australia, where the base F-type Coupe commands AU$129,460 and the F-Type S Coupe manual goes for AU$163,375.
Jaguar is a bit unique among today's automakers in that it uses superchargers on its engines. For the F-Type S Coupe, that means a blower powered by the 3-liter V-6 engine, forcing air into the cylinders for 380 horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque. I found it a very satisfying amount of power for everyday driving, and perfectly suitable to the manual transmission.
The linkage for that six-speed manual exhibits a mechanical, sometimes rough feeling at the shifter, but it popped neatly into each gear. I was very impressed how, when braking, the shifter seemed to guide my hand for the downshift. There was no confusion about which gear I wanted to grab.
And while manual shifting requires a little extra work, especially in stop-and-go traffic, I found this one perfectly livable in conjunction with the F-Type S Coupe's light clutch and easily modulated power. A hill-hold feature made the manual transmission even more reasonable for the steep streets of San Francisco.
While the F-Type S Coupe proved fine for mundane, everyday driving, the roar of its sports exhaust and the fine handling afforded by its adaptive suspension begged for more interesting roads. Push a button on the console to open up the baffles in the exhaust system, or just hit the checkered-flag Dynamic mode button which also activates the sports exhaust, hit the gas, and the F-Type S Coupe roars and spits, its twin rear pipes making music for the enthusiast's ear.
The 8.5-foot wheelbase, along with the light, precise steering action, lends to the excellent cornering ability. Turn after turn, I enjoyed the F-Type S Coupe's character, feeling its strong grip on the road and its flat rotation at apexes. The adaptive suspension not only kept the car flat in the turns, but expertly absorbed the jolts produced by bumps in the road, immediately damping them out for minimal impact on the car.