Is a Jaguar F-Type Coupe a more involving experience with an old school manual gearbox? We find out…
I could easily write 1,000 words extolling the virtues of the Jaguar F-Type, but then there’s no point – you’ve heard it all before.
I’m unashamedly a fan, and up until now, my only dilemma has been that if I were to win the lottery, would I plump for the convertible or coupe?
Both are drop-dead gorgeous, and arguably more beautiful from the rear than any other angle. We’re talking serious kerb appeal.
Looks aside, the F-Type is enormous fun to drive too and those pops and crackles from the raucous exhaust are infectious.
A few months ago I was offered a quick spin in the new F-Type Coupe V6 S with manual gearbox, and I was hugely impressed. Here, I thought, was something resembling an old school sports car and I was really taken with the extra involvement the stick shift added to the experience.
So, naturally, I jumped at the chance to test the car for a week more recently.
It arrived in British Racing Green with a pearlescent (for want of a better term) finish. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but by the end of the week I was totally beguiled – a simply stunning colour choice.
The manual F-Type is now the entry level car in the range, starting at £51,760. For that you get the 340PS version of the 3.0-litre V6 Supercharged engine.
The car I tested was the more powerful 380PS V6S, priced at £60,250 basic, though mine was blessed with a long list of options, taking it up to £70,645.
But here’s the thing – by the end of the week I’d decided that my lottery win would have to stretch an extra two grand for the equivalent automatic in the range because the manual wasn’t for me… which just goes to show how important it is to test drive a car for a minimum of a day – ideally a weekend.
The reality is that the six-speed manual gearbox is good, but not great.
The gear lever sits slightly higher than I’d like, while the throw and clutch action were a little on the heavy side for my liking.
A week or so later I tried the new Mazda MX-5 and the contrast was marked – the light, slick movement made all the difference, to the point where you actually want to change gear more than is necessary.
Thankfully the supercharged V6 is full of torque so that there’s rarely any need to slip into fifth or sixth unless you’re on a fast A road or motorway.
Don’t get me wrong, the F-Type Coupe manual is still a very good car, but if it was me, I’d pay the extra and opt for the slick ZF eight-speed automatic which perfectly suits the car.
Elsewhere the F-Type is pretty much the same. Sink into the cockpit’s leather seats, press the Start button and you can’t help but smile – this is the sound of a proper sports car. There’s amble space for two people, but not much else.
That said, the coupe may not be as much fun when the sun is out, but it’s far more practical when it comes to boot space – making a trip away far less of a compromise.
Sharp handling and lusty performance from that 3.0-litre V6 make for an entertaining drive and on paper it’s capable of a maximum speed of 171mph and 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds, though it seems much faster.
In theory, fuel consumption is 28.8mpg, but realistically it a little less because this is a thoroughbred that needs to stretch its legs. We won’t talk about the CO2 emissions…
So there you have it. I’m still a huge fan of the F-Type, but the manual isn’t for me. Ultimately, the need to change up and down slightly dented my enjoyment of a normally exhilarating driving experience.
If you’re ever in the position to buy one – try both versions before making a choice.