As soon as I heard Jaguar where going to put a manual gearbox in the F-type, it went on my short “must test drive” list and I asked Park Place Jaguar Dallas to let me know as soon one arrived. After a few months of waiting, the call finally came in two weeks ago. The arrangements were put into place for a generous long weekend loan. Upon arriving at the dealership, we were greeted with stunning British Racing Green F-type S Coupe Manual baking in the intense Texas sun.
As I have driven a few F-types now, handover was quick and off we went. As the external temperature gauge was reading 39C (103F) the first item to be put to the test was the air-conditioning system. I am very pleased to report it works well and quickly cooled the rather cozy semi sauna passenger cabin. Next up on the list was the entertainment system. Pairing the iPhone was intuitive and inputting the destination into the SatNav quite straight forward. While my co-driver commented negatively on the number of buttons and dials on the center consul, as the driver, I found them much easier to use than having to hunt through the multiple sub menu approach other manufacturers use.
The first few hours with the F-type were spent running around town doing errands. As a car to live with, the F-type is great. The transparent roof adds a sense of lightness and space to the cabin, the sightlines are great, and the rear camera system makes parking easy. The boot is deceptive in size as it easily swallowed a week’s worth of groceries. My co-pilot commented on the seats and noted how much more comfortable they were than those in a BMW she recently drove around for a few days. The only item that I was not sold on ironically was the transmission. The clutch pedal felt a bit light and springy vs. my personal preference and the gearshift from 1st to 2nd is on the mushy side. On a positive note, the gearshift does improve as you move from 2nd into the upper gears and the ratios are well spaced. To be fair to Jaguar on the clutch feel, I do actually like the masochistic clutch on the F40 so I am unlikely the target the engineers used when designing it.
Later in the weekend we got the F-type out onto the highway first, followed by some broader more open back roads. The steering weighting and feedback were both improved over what I remember. The V6 engine in S spec provides plenty of punch and is a joy push. Chassis balance is excellent which really makes this a fun car to drive hard. While the F-type is not mind altering quick, it is plenty fast. In fact the magic in the F-type is the combination of brilliant chassis and punchy engine which really makes it an engaging car to drive even within legal speed limits.
Overall the F-type is easily the most appealing Jaguar I have had the pleasure to drive this side of the XJR-15. I love the lines and in British Racing Green, the F-type is a thing of real beauty. While I am normally a big fan of old school manuals, if I was to spec an F-type, I am really not sure which box I would tick.