Review: 2016 Jaguar F-type V6S manual

May 21, 2015 05:00 PM EDT | Jeff Jablansky

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If enthusiasts have criticized the Jaguar F-type for any particular reason, it hasn't been its looks, its power, its handling, or its fun-to-drive factor. The dream, we've argued, is an F-type coupe and roadster that we could shift for ourselves. For the 2016 model year, Jaguar has answered the call with multiple variants of the F-type now available with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Jaguar let us loose with the an F-type V-6S coupe with the manual transmission for a drive along the winding roads of eastern Pennsylvania.

Come back tomorrow for our first drive of the Jaguar F-type R.

What is it?

Not since the unloved X-type sedan has a manual transmission been offered in a Jaguar in the United States. For 2016, Jaguar is installing a 6-speed manual gearbox in its F-type V-6 range, and that's kind of a big deal. Now, it's time for enthusiasts to put their money where their mouths are and take a close look at the F-type revised to their liking.

How does it drive?

Brilliantly, with a couple of caveats. The 380-hp supercharged V-6 does the same, commendable job of convincing the majority of sports-car drivers that it provides all the power an F-type might need. (Those with a twitchy right foot should check out the 550-hp V-8.) It's unapologetically loud, assisted by an crackly exhaust note reminiscent of the sounds of a Civil War battlefield. If you need only one reason to consider the F-type, this is it.

The manual transmission itself is a joy to use. Don't expect Honda-level snick-snickability through the gears, but throws are fairly short. The clutch pedal straddles the balance between light and springy, and heel-toeing is possible—if you're into that sort of thing. The manual transmission will be available in V-6 models with rear-wheel drive.

The only downside to the manual gearbox? The optional 8-speed automatic is really, really good to use.

Get on a twisty backroad and the F-type is a corner-carver, not a boulevardier. New for 2016 is electric power steering, replacing hydraulic assist. We like it, and can't discern any major differences from the steering rack it replaces. You'll feel a lot of the road surfaces along the way, but isn't that what driving a sports car is about?

What's it like inside?

Gorgeous, snug, and almost completely unchanged from the automatic model, save for a slightly revised center stack to accommodate the manual gearshift.

What's its specialty?

Offering luxury performance enthusiasts a true choice.

Most innovative feature?

Its manual transmission. In a class where innovation is measured through shift times from complex, dual-clutch units, the simplicity of Jaguar's 6-speed manual is refreshing. The fact that it's slick to use and will impress your date makes it an old-school innovation.

How's the competition?

Trembling. How many automakers can say that they produce a wide range of options to satisfy the sports-car enthusiast, in both coupe and convertible form? Porsche, with its Boxster and Cayman, comes closest, although the Chevrolet Corvette is a compelling analogue. 

Overall:

Greater tactile engagement with the market's most engaging coupe/roadster duo.

Highs:

Quick shifts, nicely weighted clutch, and all the elements that make the F-type so desirable: style, form, precision, power, and execution.

Lows:

Less exhaust crackle than we remember from the automatic, which is a damn fine transmission in its own right.

The ideal setup:

British racing green, with a black interior with the extended leather option and sport seats. Oh, and the gorgeous, 20-inch "tornado" alloy wheels. Add the Premium + Vision package, which includes goodies like driver assistance tech and heated seats, as well as "valet mode" and dual-zone climate control. With the options boxes checked, our ideal F-type V-6S manual coupe stickers closer to 93 grand than 79, which is expensive—but still less than an F-type with a V-8 engine.

By the numbers: 2016 Jaguar F-type V-6S Manual Coupe

MSRP: $78,295 (includes $995 destination charge)

Power / drive wheels: 3.0-liter, 380-hp supercharged V-6 engine / rear-wheel drive

Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission

EPA fuel economy (mpg): 19 city / 27 highway (with automtic transmission)

In showrooms: Now

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