Modern Motoring: Reviewing the 2017 Jaguar F-Type Convertible (Manual Transmission)

There's a lot to say about Jaguar's brilliant performance vehicle, the 2017 F-Type Convertible, painted in ultimate black that's got the "black pack" themed package (the car looks beautiful this way...I'm sure Henry Ford is smiling somewhere), so let's skip the longish, typical intro and get straight to it.

With all sorts of attention paid to aerodynamics, the body design of the 2017 F-Type attracts the eyes of car enthusiasts as well as the common driver to non-driver. The deployable rear-spoiler kicks in at 110 km/h (96 km/h for the drop top) and the deployable door handles tuck in nicely for an even smoother look. The J-Blade LED running headlights are stunning along with the adaptive front headlights and complimented by the rear LED lights. Come to think of it, there's LED lighting throughout the vehicle for a classy, modern ambiance.

The optional 20” blacked out wheels that came with my tester frame the F-Type beautifully.
Jaguar has created a head-turning machine with a masculine stance, sweet and sweeping lines along with an overall body shape that echoes the brilliance of their design team. The elongated hood, sloping rear window, the solid “thud” of the doors all contribute to its beauty. Cleverly, the door handles retract into the door when not in use and spring outwards when needed to get into this beautiful machine.

The 2016 F-Type is more of a cockpit than a cabin. At least that’s how it feels to me. The 14 way power and leather adjustable seats ensure that the portly or petite will find their ideal driving position with ease. I can vouch personally for the portly side of things.

An impressive full width panoramic roof comes standard and I heartily applaud that as it really opens up the interior…good ol’ natural light! Want something lighter? There’s an available carbon fibre roof as an option.

The eight-inch colour touch screen is easy to navigate and responds well to whatever you request from it. I know, I know, it leaves fingerprints. If you have money for an F-Type, you should have a few bucks laying around for a microfiber cloth. Or you can borrow mine. The good folks at Meridian have custom designed a 770-watt, 12-speaker sound system with a sub-woofer specifically for the F-Type. Robert Johnson’s scratchy recordings sounded heavenly. Dave Matthews, Bruce Springsteen, Queen and Ryan Adams sounded symphonic. Even AM radio sounded great.

There’s 330 litres of cargo space, enough for a weekend away or golf clubs. Pack strategically is my advice.

If I’m to ask for something, it’d be for a fully digital dashboard. Yes, the analog dials (speed and RPM) offer a historic touch, but having that extra bump in a vehicle full of technology would a nice finish. Not complaining, mind you; only suggesting.

The active air vents (where they collapse into the dashboard when not in use) are a great space saving technique and a damn fine party trick! The three spoked, flat-bottomed steering wheel is uber comfortable and on automatic models, there are paddle shifters if you think your reflexes are faster than what Jaguar engineers have offered. Full marks for giving the driver beautiful surroundings as they navigate this luxury sports car through city and urban settings.

My 2017 F-Type came equipped with a 3.0 Supercharged V6 motor with 380 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque. And did it ever fly. I’ll be blunt: the 2016 Jaguar F-Type S coupe’s rear wheel drive, six-speed manual gearbox has matched the best standard transmission I’ve ever driven. The Porsche Boxster GTS was the sole leader until now. For strategically waiting a few years since the F-Type was released, to giving driving enthusiasts and purists what they wanted, Jaguars DIY box is thoroughly stunning. With the “shut-up and hold me tight” shaped and engraved shift knob and silky smooth gear changes, the perfectly balanced amount of left foot pressure to the roaring response you get in each gear, Jaguar's six-speed arrow hit the bullseye.

Despite the shift in luxury/high end sports cars moving (or considering moving) away from a standard transmission, there’s still a small and mighty demand for the left foot/right hand option. This manual receives full marks plus a wave of bonus marks. Having full physical control to unleash and facilitate 380 majestic and noble British horses is a remarkable experience. As you march through the gears and feel the 339 lb-ft of torque thrust you forward, you’re truly connecting with the car. You’re having a delicate, heart-felt conversation with every shift. You’re dancing with the most beautiful person in the room. The ascent to 100 km/h is a mere 5.5 seconds, only four-tenths of a second different than the automatic. But what you lose in that spec of time, you gain in driving pleasure.
Sure, shifting between first and second gear in traffic will test even the highest level of patience. And yes, the human body will never be as quick or precise as the automatic experience. Unless you’re on closed racetrack, it’s probably not going to be about that four-tenths of a second. It’s the experience that’s paramount with a standard transmission. It’s about engaging with that vehicle that’s carefully enveloping you and executing the “H” pattern. Simply put, I feel a true sports car includes a standard transmission.
The spacing of the pedals lets you quickly heel-toe your way into driving bliss without tripping over your own feet. If you want to be involved, to be connected, to manually control what this luxury sports car does in all situations and to have it done so effortlessly, no automatic/paddle shifter can replace a manual gearbox.

Of the four braking systems available, the manual was optioned with the Super Performance Brake Pack ($1,650) and the automatic fitted with the standard High Performance. Naturally, the F-Type handles like a dream. Twists, turns, corners, ascents, descents, bends…whatever I threw at the Jag, it responded mockingly as if to say “forgive me for yawning as you attempt to challenge me.”

The moving divide between manual and automatic will be a constantly shifting one over the foreseeable future with strong arguments for each. Both the manual and automatic versions of Jaguar’s V6, 380 hp offering perform extraordinarily and offer truly different driver experiences. But for this fellow, who loves doing things himself, who loves to be in control (don’t look too far into that, every smart man knows that women have full control of things, they only lend us smidge of their control), and who is a driving purist at heart, the manual transmission provides an unmatched driving experience.

At $92,500 for the pre-option price, there's many a "tick" available on the option sheet, allowing you do make your Jaguar purr, present and perform just the way you need it.

Enjoy the full gallery below: