Jaguar F-Type Coupe — Now with a stick shift

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Jaguar created a tasty mix of breathtaking styling and spine-tingling performance together with a sumptuous interior with its Jaguar F-Type coupe and roadster, introduced in 2014. No tweaking is really necessary as the head-turning extremely desirable two-place F-Type enters its third model year, but Jaguar has elected to enhance its creation in several meaningful ways for 2016.

Headlining the upgrades is the availability of all-wheel drive, which should make sports car fans in the cold-weather states smile with anticipation. The thing here is that under normal driving conditions the system sends all the power to the rear wheels. But when tackling a curvy road or in slippery conditions, the system can shift 50 percent of the power to the front wheels for improved grip and handling. In addition, Jaguar has eliminated hydraulic assistance to the rack-and-pinion in favor of electric power steering, which we found as accurate as the previous setup with outstanding road feel.

Jaguar has also elected to increase the list of standard features in the 2016 model. For instance, the previously optional 12-speaker Meridian sound system — one of the best on the market — has now become standard across the lineup. Also new this year is an upgrade to the basic warranty, scheduled maintenance and roadside assistance. Coverage expands to five years and 60,000 miles, a year and 10,000 miles longer than 2015.

But for us the biggest change was the addition of a 6-speed manual transmission that comes with either of the available V-6 engines. We were enthralled by the prospect of being able to shift for ourselves in such a grand sports car. Our test car came with the bigger 380-horsepower supercharged V-6 and we found the engine-transmission combination delightful with short and precise throws.

The manual makes the driving experience more involving whether running through the gears getting up to highway speed or accelerating from a stoplight. Zero to 60 with the big V-6 mated to the 6-speed has been measured in 4.9 seconds with quarter-mile time of 13.4 seconds at 105 mph.

And our F-Type S test car came with 19-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, larger front brakes, a mechanical limited-slip differential, selectable dynamic driving modes (controlling throttle, steering and transmission responses), exhilarating active sport exhaust, a flat-bottom heated steering wheel and multicolor ambient lighting.

The base V-6 makes 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque and the F-Type S makes the aforementioned 380 horsepower. Both V-6 engines come with rear-wheel drive and can be paired with either the manual or tan eight-speed automatic.

Inside the F-Type you will find the usual Jaguar attention to detail with top-quality materials and high-tech features. You will also find plenty of reminders that this is a take-no-prisoners sports car with well-bolstered seating, a gearshift level that falls right to hand, and a digital speedometer feature for quick reading.

While the center display might be a bit convoluted, we like the six pre-set radio buttons on th
e large screen, which are easy to program and make changing a station on the fly a snap. We also like the large knobs provided for the climate control system. For 2016, the cabin features a new telematics system called InControl, and the instrument cluster has been updated with more advanced digital displays.

Standard equipment across the lineup is extensive and even more-so for 2016. But to Jaguar's shame, some commonplace and worthwhile safety features such as blindspot monitoring and rear backup camera with cross-traffic alert have to be purchased in a $3,900 optional Premium + Vision Package. These items should be
standard equipment on a vehicle in this price range. The package also includes parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and a power tailgate.

The F-Type Coupe is an outstanding sports car and it commands an outstanding price. The base coupe with the six-speed manual starts at $65,995 (including the destination charge). The S Coupe with the larger V-6 begins at $80,300. The options list is extensive. For example, our test car with its 80 grand base carried a bottom line of $94,595 with its list of options which included the aforementioned Premium Package, a $3,100 Extended Leather Package and 20-inch Tornado alloy wheels for $1,900.

The F-Type Coupe is a wonderful vehicle with magnificent style and outstanding performance. It's likely the F-Type will capture the grace and elegance and the remarkable obsession of the E-Type, which found its place in automotive history and art some 50 years ago. Another brilliant Jaguar sports car made just a bit better for 2016.

Base price: $65,995; as driven, $94,595
Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged V-6
Horsepower: 380 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 339 foot-pounds @ 3,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2
Wheelbase: 103.2 inches
Length: 176 inches
Curb weight: 3,782 pounds
Turning circle: 35.8 feet
Luggage capacity: 11 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 18.6 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 24 highway, 15 city, 18 combined
0-60: 4.9 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Porsche Cayman, Chevrolet Corvette, BMW M4

The Good
• Manual transmission option
• Good performance from V-6
• Beautiful inside and out

The Bad
• No all-wheel drive option for V-8 model

The Ugly
• Limited trunk space