A bad Jaguar F-Type doesn't exist. Common consensus is that the
is the best of a very good bunch, with
accommodating hooligans and then the
for everybody else. The convertible brings more noise, the coupe fractionally sharper dynamics. We can probably all agree each F-Type looks superb.
Still a looker, isn't it?
Anyway, even amongst a talented model range, this should be the F-Type that most tickles the PH fancy; a V6 S coupe with a manual gearbox. Yes indeed. Now this is the car we have already tested in
late prototype form
soon after its was LA show debut but an opportunity to drive a production version on the road was not to be missed.
There will be no suspense here: it's a very good manual. It's not magnificent but those who enjoy changing gear - and they should be here, right? - will find much to like.
Even before driving the signs are encouraging. The gearknob is just that, with no gratuitous adornment or ungainly shaping. It's small but actually lead weighted to aid the shift feel. The pedals are sensibly placed and it's hard to to avoid just a little excitement at driving a 380hp rear-wheel drive sports car with three pedals and a stick. What a novelty.
As inviting interiors go...
On the road gearchanges are precise and tight, the throw short and the gate narrow without being unnervingly so. In the left-hand drive test car the movement from second to third and back again is really sweet, a flash across to the right going up and a short tug (ahem) towards you on the way back. Even reaching for fifth doesn't feel as unnatural as it can do in LHD cars, that motion often akin to fondling in the glovebox. The weighting of both clutch and shift is spot on for the F-Type's sports GT billing as well.
Alright, so it isn't quite as enjoyable as - you've guessed it - the Porsche Cayman manual thanks to an occasional notchiness and better positioning in the Porsche but it's certainly more pleasant than a Lotus Evora. An Aston V8 Vantage? A much closer call, one we'll hope to answer definitively in the near future. The pedals are set nicely to ensure heel and toe is simple as well, although Dynamic mode did seem to make the throttle a little too sensitive. Normal mode, with the sports exhaust still engaged, was the best combination.
Gearbox aside for just a second, the F-Type remains a very accomplished and likeable sports car. The supercharged V6 is torquey, eager and sounds superb, the new electric power steering is one of the best and the ride/handling compromise is excellently judged. It's impossible not to imagine how good a 1,400kg F-Type would be - one for Special Ops perhaps - but the standard car certainly has the capacity to entertain. Well, as much entertainment as can be found on heavily policed and rather ordinary American roads...
Very good in the US, here will be the real test
Then the clutch started slipping. Oh dear. It wasn't often but on, er, spirited upchanges with the lever firmly in position and foot off the clutch drive just wasn't there and revs would continue to spin. Obviously it whiffed a bit too.
According to a Jag engineer this was an issue uncovered in their 'abuse testing' associated with maximum torque changes and there will be a different clutch for customer cars. We are nothing if not thorough in our examination! Manual F-Types will be arriving in the UK soon so we'll be sure to try one again and establish if the issue has been rectified.
The slipping issue is a real shame because the F-Type manual had impressed greatly up to that point. Uptake is expected to be small, about 10 per cent in fact, but those that do will love the car. It's a classic sports car in style but one that never feels outdated or old fashioned. Efficiency and acceleration can go hang - it's a more involving, engaging sports car experience, one that improves on an already excellent package.
JAGUAR F-TYPE V6 S
Engine: 2,995cc, V6 supercharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear wheel drive
Power (hp): 380@6,500rpm
Torque(lb ft): 332@3,500-5,000rpm
Top Speed: 171mph
MPG: 28.8 [NEDC combined]