Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: June 27, 2016
We rarely get what we want these days. Think about it. Natural aspiration has become a thing of the past with engines now muddled with winding turbochargers, rear-wheel drive is becoming increasingly rare, and manual transmissions have all but hit the graveyard. Furthermore, synthetic exhaust noises are now being piped through the speakers while engines keep shrinking in displacement – not even the venerable Porsche 911 can escape that fact.
But here comes Jaguar with its chin held up high and does the complete opposite of the norm, delivering just what we hoped for: an F-Type with a supercharged V6 sending power exclusively to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. Who woulda’ thought?
Normally, automakers launch their sports cars with a manual first, then follow up with automatics, all-wheel drive, and convertibles. But Jaguar started with a convertible first, then with a manual transmission two years later. Odd move – maybe they were testing the waters? Either way, we’re just happy they built it, but is it going to sell? And is it as good as the brilliant 8-speed ZF automatic that we’ve experienced before?
My belief is that it’s not so much about the sales and uptake of the manual transmission as much as it is about making the F-Type a thoroughbred sports car. Jaguar wants to give prospective buyers a choice, even if it means that choice is choosing the automatic. Like the 911, having three pedals allows the F-Type to extend its family tree to a whopping total of 14 trim levels. That helps build the sports car image and the boundless possibilities that the F-Type offers.
There is one catch however, and that is the stick-shift is only available on rear-wheel drive V6 models. There are no auto blip features, launch control, nothing. It’s an old school manual where everything is DIY, and we love it for that.
It’s quite a smooth operator as well. Though the gear changes are not as crisp as a 911’s, the pedal placement is perfect for easy heel-and-toe downshifts. The clutch isn’t very lenient and has a good amount of weight to it, but the catch point is broad and the learning curve is small.
The gears are nicely spaced, so you won’t be shifting excessively around town. The shifter has a clean design and Jaguar claims it to be of a “short-throw” nature, but their engineers have obviously never driven an MX-5 or S2000 before. It feels more like shifting a BMW – long, rubbery, and notchy. I wasn’t surprised, as both source their gearboxes from the same supplier, ZF.
Now there is always going to be that someone that comes along at this point and claims that the automatic is quicker from 0-100 km/h, and they would be correct. The automatic also shifts gears faster than your own hands and feet, and is more economical on fuel with two extra gears. However that’s not the point here. Going fast isn’t always what matters. It’s how you get there, and the manual undoubtedly provides a more engaging experience. Matched up to the exquisite supercharged V6 engine and there is no shortage of driving pleasure.
Delivering 380 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque, this pouncing feline is no slouch around town, and there’s just something beautiful and soulful about revving a supercharged engine with a manual transmission. Revs build so quickly and power delivery is so instantaneous that it makes it so easy to modulate the powerband and nail those perfect shifts. Combine that with the phenomenal electric steering system and you’ve got a sports car worthy of sharing the podium with the scalpel sharp 911.
One thing that I did notice with the manual however – and it’s a big one – is that the F-Type doesn’t pop or burble as much as the automatic-equipped models. Apparently there is less programming in the computers to burn excess fuel on overrun after lifting off the throttle, meaning less snap, crackle, and pop.
It’s quite a noticeable difference, transforming the F-Type into more of an XKR symphony rather than an F-Type shotgun war. Some of my colleagues prefer it without the aural firepower, but some long for it. Either way, we’ve all agreed that the F-Type’s exhaust, no matter the trim, is one of the best soundtracks we’ve ever experienced, and is superior to the synthetic sounds from the lethargic Porsche 911 and BMW M4. Here's a short clip we managed to put together of the F-Type's exhaust when pulling onto the highway.
In manual form, the exterior remains unchanged, however the interior’s center console has been reworked for optimal movement of that gear shifter. This meant rearranging the buttons and knobs – it’s not quite perfect but still a decent effort. Many buttons are still hidden from driver’s view depending on what gear is in slot. For example, to check if my active exhaust button is on, I would have to shift out of sixth gear into fifth or neutral to find out. I also have to take care not to hit the hazards when downshifting from fourth to third. Not a big deal.
A few other nitpicks: this 2017 F-Type model doesn’t make use of the updated infotainment system that is already making an appearance in the new XF and F-PACE, which is a disappointment as it is such an improvement over this old laggy system.
I also wouldn’t recommend opting for those Performance Seats ($5,000) that were loaded onto our vehicle. They are supportive and well bolstered, but incredibly hard on your back, especially on long commutes. Unless you want to track the Jag, just stick with the standard (and more comfortable) sports seats.
The bottom line is, if you prefer to row your own gears with a tamer exhaust note, then the V6 manual should be your gear of choice. The manual may not be as smooth or as economical, but it provides the purist with a capable weekend warrior embued with old-school charm. But if you long for those ballistic pops and crackles (as I certainly do), or have a convincing argument for a V8 engine or all-wheel drive, then stick with the automatic.
型号 Model: 2017 Jaguar F-Type S Coupe
顏色 Paint Type: Italian Racing Red ($600)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $89,500
試車售價 Price as Tested: $111,100
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,622
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,470 / 1,923 / 1,311
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,594
引擎 Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 380 hp @ 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 339 lb-ft @ 3,500 - 5,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 15.3 / 9.9 / 12.9
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.2
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli P Zero