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Jaguar F-Type 2015 review

If a real sports car needs a manual gearbox then the F‒Type Jaguar finally qualifies.

The classic British belter is finally picking up a slick ZF six‒speeder with a clutch for its 2016 model update, as well as all‒wheel drive for people who worry that too much fun is more than enough on slippery surfaces.

Jaguar expects between 20 and 30 per cent of F-Type buyers to go for the "stick" globally, although that number could be slightly lower in Australia when the updated F‒Type coupes and convertibles arrive in May.

Before then, and well in time for winter weather, the F-Types with added front-end traction land in March.

The 2016 update, which seems awfully early at the start of 2015, also includes a switchable sports exhaust on all models, a parking pack on V6S and R versions, and memory electric seats on the R cars.

Just like Porsche with its 911, Jaguar has also fitted electric power steering — mostly for the economy and emission benefits it brings.

Globally, there is extra stuff, including a smartphone app that allows you to start the car remotely and fire up the aircon, but the final specification for local cars is still being confirmed.

The manual F-Type will not be cheap, with pricing from $119,470 with a V6 engine, but there are already people with cash to splash. And Jaguar believes it will give the brand a more competitive car against Porsche, which sets the benchmark with its Boxster/Cayman/911 triple act.

"There have been inquiries about availability of a manual version since launch, and since the announcement that we will be introducing a manual version the dealers report that inquiry has increased," says James Scrimshaw, Jaguar spokesman for Australia.

He says 168 F-Types were delivered through 2014 and there is a considerable order bank for cars, as the production line in Britain is working at full capacity.

"We expect these new derivatives to perform well and increase overall F-Type volumes in 2015," he says.

The clutch is light, and the gear ratios work with the force-fed V6 engine

The new F-Types were rolled out for a track-based preview in Portugal during the teaser program for Jaguar's landmark XE compact sedan. There was a wet handling course with track laps and a short road loop. The cars ran from the manual V6S coupe on the road to the AWD V6S in the wet to the AWD V8 R on the Estoril circuit, a grand prix track built back in 1972.

The manual F-Type was the pick, but there was nowhere near enough time to get to know it well. I can say that the clutch is light, and the gear ratios work with the force-fed V6 engine, but not much more.

Well, apart from the location of the lever. For me, it's awful.

Jaguar says it has put the "stick" in the best location available, and also shaved the top of the centre console to clear elbow room, but that did not help. I had to cock my wrist awkwardly to shift in the 2-4-6 plane and I never felt comfortable.

It's a good thing that, like the vast majority of Australians, I'm happy with a crisp paddle-shift automatic in most cars.

The V8 F-Type was a delight with all-wheel drive

The wet handling track proves that the F-Type has the chassis balance and all-wheel drive system to suit a sport car. Most people would never know it's feeding so much power to the front wheels and it's possible to give full throttle on a soaked road without worrying about the steering wheel tugging or the back stepping out.

On the Estoril track, one of the fastest used by carmakers, the V8 F-Type was a delight with all-wheel drive. There was no sign of a manual box, because even the ZF cannot handle the extra torque and that's why the ratios and tuning were optimised for the V6 S.

There was a little front-end push in slow corners, and also at better than 140km/h on a very long right-handed sweeper, but most of the time the car stayed planted and obeyed my instructions. Once again, there was no hint of the all-wheel drive package as the car is tuned to stay rear-drive until the tyres reach overload and then to feed drive forward.

On the steering front, I could not detect any loss of feel with the switch to electric assist.

Verdict

For someone who is used to a Subaru WRX or a Mitsubishi Evo, the F-Type is a driver's delight.

"F-Type has put performance and agility back at the heart of the Jaguar brand," chief program engineer Russ Varney says.

"These new products are bringing more and more new customers. But it's not just about expansion, it's improving customer satisfaction as well. Now there is an F-Type to suit every taste."

Pricing Guides

$134,800
Based on 5 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$129,990
Highest Price
$149,995

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
R 5.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $134,800 – 149,995 2015 Jaguar F-Type 2015 R Pricing and Specs
R AWD 5.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $59,510 – 68,420 2015 Jaguar F-Type 2015 R AWD Pricing and Specs
V6 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $71,390 – 82,060 2015 Jaguar F-Type 2015 V6 Pricing and Specs
V6 S 3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $88,000 – 101,200 2015 Jaguar F-Type 2015 V6 S Pricing and Specs