Purchasing a car should be a visceral decision, one that stimulates the senses and teases the wallet. No other sports car on the market does this better than the alluring Jaguar F-Type. Its beautifully sculpted lines, which are both modern yet reminiscent of the E-Types of yesteryear, appease the eyes. The alarm chirp and the mechanical pop of the hidden door handles wake up your ears. Your sense of touch too gets a slight tickle when you step inside and push the pulsing engine start button. It all cumulates into sensory overload when you hear the mighty supercharged V6 fire up and the exhaust crackle as the car comes to an idle. And now the F-Type comes with a six-speed manual transmission. Hallelujah.
The option to row your own gears finally arrives but with one big caveat: it’s only available for F-Types optioned with the supercharged V6, and it is not available with the V8. The secret sauce of why the stick shift only comes in V6 guise is because of balance, and the V6 kitty is the most balanced of the litter. To explain, one needs to look no further than the car’s brochure.
See, potential owners have four numbers to choose from: 340HP, 380HP, 550HP, and 575HP. And on a scale of fast to “I don’t know how it got wrapped around the tree,” the 380HP V6 hits the magical sweet spot – the perfect place for a manual transmission to exist without overwhelming the driver.
This balance stretches beyond the proverbial Goldilocks situation. Two less cylinders and the ZF sourced six-speed means shaving 158 kg in weight compared to the V8-powered F-Type R. Though the convertible was designed with lightness in mind thanks to an aluminum body construction, shaving 158 kg off the gross weight is still significant and the result is a convertible that feels remarkably nimble in the corners. Toss it hard in a corner and it responds with tremendous amounts of grip. It’s not as rigid as the coupe, but then again, it’s not a coupe.
Steering is responsive, communicative, and weighted just right. Introduced in 2016 was an electrically assisted rack supplanting the old hydraulic one. While some may think of it as a loss, it isn’t. The old hydraulic racks from Jaguar weren’t the best in the industry and this new unit offers a far better driving experience. It loads up progressively with the front tires offering plenty of feedback along the way. All of it feels so harmonious when paired with the manual.
Here’s what I mean. Far too often, mechanical interactions with a car are mismatched. For example, the clutch might be too light or the steering may be too artificially heavy. It’s rare that a manufacturer gets it just right.
Jaguar has nearly managed to do so with this convertible. Clutch engagement is right in the middle of the pedal travel, and weighted just the precise amount for a car with 380HP. That is, it doesn’t feel unnecessarily light or heavy, making traffic jams tolerable. The stick shift offers relatively short throws, and the gates are spaced evenly apart. The shifter feels slightly vague going in each gate lacking the rifle-bolt like precision of other manual transmissions but hey, on the grand scheme of things there is much more that the brand could have gotten wrong.
It’s not a particularly complex manual transmission either. Jaguar doesn’t offer rev matched downshifts (although perplexing enough, they offer rev-matched upshifts). It requires a bit of finesse and skill to drive this F-Type at 100% and that’s the point. This is very much an old-school driving experience wrapped in a new-age package. But that extra layer of participation is what makes this car so rewarding. Whether you’re heel-n-toeing for an on-ramp sweeper, or dropping a couple of gears for a highway pass, you’ll do all of it with a stupid grin on your face.
Prices start at $81,500 for the standard V6. Adding an extra 40 horses for the S swings the base MSRP up to $92,500. This particular S comes equipped with an options list that equals the price of a Civic ($17,150) too. The bulk of the options come from big ticket items like Premium Vision, Leather, and 20-inch Tornado Black wheels.
The Premium Vision package adds all the necessary creature comforts you’d expect from a car with a six-figure price tag such as surround parking sensors, back up camera, automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, heated seats and wheel. I’d skip on the extended leather and the fancy wheels to shave $6,100 off the bill of sale. Ignoring the metallic paint, red seat belts, and the illuminated tread plate will knock another $1,700 off the price. Options we’d make sure were ticked include the Super Performance Brake Package, and the Limited Slip Differential.
Regardless of how you spec your F-Type, the fact of the matter remains that this Jaguar is one of the most exhilarating sports cars to date. Better yet, it’s rewarding to drive and doesn’t just rely on the movement of your right foot, but also how your arms and left foot all react into one cohesive driving experience that is bar none.