2016 Jaguar F-Type Manual and F-Type R AWD: First Drive

2016 Jaguar F-Type Manual and F-Type R AWD: First Drive

What is it: 2016 Jaguar 6-Speed Manual F-Type and F-Type R, two-seat coupe and convertible

Price Range:  $65,000 to $102,000

Competitors: Porsche 911, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayman, Mercedes-AMG GT, Maserati Gran Turismo

Alternatives: Mazda Miata, Ford Mustang GT, Audi S5, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, BMW 6 series

Pros: Manuals are saved! Ebullient Noise! Drool worthy looks!

Cons: The death of rear-wheel drive. That ebullient noise at inopportune moments (i.e. an early drive to the office or airport and your neighbors might want to strangle you).

Would I Buy it with My Own Money: Sure. It’s fun, it’s noisy, it’s fast and people want to know what it is when you drive past.


Save the manuals! Death to automatics!

Car enthusiasts and purists alike have mourned the slow and painful death of the manual transmission. Fewer people know how to drive them, even fewer are buying them and carmakers are simply opting out. The same goes for car design; gone are the delightful and extreme flourishes of yesteryear. But fear not, you automotive purist you — Jaguar has your back.

For 2016, Jaguar is offering the beautiful F-Type with two new key features: the row-your-own 6-speed transmission and all-wheel-drive on certain models. And they are just as fun to drive as they sound.

Back in 2013 the new F-Type made its debut to a resounding whoop of joy, and lust-filled diatribes about how Jaguar had (finally) gotten it’s 1960s-era mojo back. With steady (and fairly healthy sales for a $60,000 two-seat convertible,) Jaguar has not let up with new variants.

The most interesting of these is the new 6-speed manual. Only available in a rear-wheel drive V-6 version, the 6-speed we drove was pure enthusiast joy. The aural pop-pop-pop on downshift, the feeling of getting a rev match just right: it sends tingles to all the right places. It harkens back to the days when we drove for fun and it brings an instant smile to my face—and to the faces of pedestrians on their way to work in the early New York hours.

Don’t get me wrong here. I didn’t get every shift right—in fact despite what Jaguar says about their precise 45mm throw on the gear shift, I actually found it a little long and awkward for me. To go from second to third, I had to flair my elbow outside the seat bolster to find the gears, making quick shifts tricky and rather clunky in New York traffic, and not very precise.  Forget heel-toe, too. Though Jaguar says that the pedal position is optimized for that coveted shift, the clutch engagement point made it impossible for me.  

All that being said, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the heck out of the manual F-Type. You can go for the plain vanilla F-Type that puts out 340 hp or the F-Type S that pushes 380 horsepower. Both are married to a lightweight ZF transmission, and put out 332 lb-ft and 338 lb-ft of torque, respectively. That’s plenty for hurtling the lightweight car around back roads of New York and Pennsylvania with a smile on your face. While those numbers pale in comparison to the V-8 AWD R version of the F-Type we also drove, its still pure physical fun.

Now, pardon me while I fan myself, and uh, shift gears. More track-oriented, and much less squirrelly in corners than the previous generation, the V-8 F-Type R puts out 550 horsepower and a whopping 502 lb-ft of torque. The R Coupe does 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds and the Convertible version matches it. Married to an 8-speed automatic transmission Jaguar calls “Quickshift,” it makes being behind the wheel like driving a raucous ball of energy around the track at Monticello.

On the road, the V-8 Supercharged engine still sounds incredible. Find a tunnel or a good rock outcropping and let the exhaust sing in Sport mode. People will smile at you and give you a thumbs up, or scowl at all that glorious noise you’re making. Either way, it’s a blast.

The V-8 F-Type Rs will come with standard AWD while the S Coupe will offer AWD as an option—but only with the automatic transmission. This means that if you want, you won’t have to worry as much about (accidentally) hanging the tail out or getting stuck in a quarter-inch of snow. In normal driving, 100% of the torque is sent to the rear wheels. When the system senses, or even anticipates, slip, it sends as much as 50% of the torque to the front. They system is constantly working to reduce both understeer and oversteer, adjusting for the driver as it works. On the track the V-8 R AWD version can be pushed harder into and out of the turns without that “uh oh” moment if the driver puts their foot into it.

The new 2016 models also get an upgraded electric power assist steering system that is surprisingly good in 90% of situations. Road feel is translated to the driver clearly and cleanly without any strange numb feeling. The system even compensates for ambient temperature so the driver gets the most realistic feedback from the road.

Oh, and about all those niggling concerns over reliability—the typical Jaguar gremlins: the company is assuaging those fears with a generous set of vehicle coverage plans. A 5-year, 60,000-mile warranty plus a 5-year, 60,0000-mile complimentary scheduled maintenance plan are both included. Jaguar is also including a system they call InControl which allows buyers to press a button and get 24/7 roadside assistance or emergency calling. It’s Jags version of OnStar and it comes free with the 5-year/60,000-mile coverage (after that you have to buy a subscription to the service).

The 6-speed manual F-Type Coupe starts at $65,000 base while the convertible starts at $68,100. The top of the line AWD F-Type R Coupe starts at $103,600 and its convertible brother starts $2,850 above that. It’s quite the entertaining way to shift yourself.