GRR

Dan Trent: A slice of the stick with a manual Jaguar F-Type

15th May 2017
dan_trent_headshot.jpg Dan Trent

To paraphrase a well-known correspondence, reports of the manual gearbox's death appear to have been an exaggeration. As far as manufacturers of prestige and/or performance machinery it seemingly had been killed off. 

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But lately, something odd has happened. The vocal minority decrying the isolating influence of automated transmissions seems to have been heard. Fever over the manual-only Porsche 911 R hasn't been dented by the lack of a PDK gearbox and inspired a manual option for the new 911 GT3. Aston Martin still makes manual coupes. And values of the last manual Ferraris and Lamborghinis carry huge premiums over their contemporary automated equivalents.

Is this just a lot of hot air being spouted by a vocal minority of Luddites and a number of journalists (guilty as charged) propagating the myth that a true 'driver's car' is one with a stick and three pedals? Well, the market would still suggest the majority of buyers reject the manual option, where it's offered. BMW says getting on for 90 per cent of M3 and M4 buyers pay the extra £2,645 for the dual-clutch M DCT option. And Jaguar reckons just two per cent of F-Types are sold with the manual gearbox option it introduced to the range back in 2015.

I've just come out of eight months and 13,000 miles in a manual F-Type S Coupe and I think that's a shame. Sure, the eight-speed automatic is a very smooth and – dare I say – appropriate transmission for a car of this type. And Jaguar's manual installation isn't the best of its type. But it added something a bit special to the driving experience.

The F-Type, especially the Coupes like 'mine', are pleasingly old-fashioned cars. The E-Type inspired looks appeal to rose-tinted swinging '60s nostalgia among those of a certain age. But it still looks modern and cool to a younger audience. It's pleasingly old-school to drive too, in a big engine up front, power to the rear kind of way. So the manual gearbox plays to those strengths. Sure, it's not as fast. But if you care about your driving it just adds another level of interaction with the car lost to those with the automatic. 

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Rarity is driving up the values of those late-model manual supercars. Maybe it will one day with F-Types too, given how few Jaguar has sold. Right now though they're a dealership's worst nightmare and near-impossible to shift off forecourts. Bad news for the original buyer, great news for bargain hunters. Tellingly of the 230 F-Types currently advertised on the PistonHeads classifieds just three are manuals. Possibly to be swelled to four before long as and when my recently returned long-termer goes into the dealer network! Actually, given I specced that car to my own tastes (or lack of) maybe I should wait for that!

In the meantime, my pick would be this one, an S Coupe like the one I was running in a rather tasteful Caldera Red. This spec means the 375bhp version of the supercharged V6 and a mechanical limited-slip differential, the combination of these with a manual transmission between them the combination I so enjoyed. The advert is a little loose on detail so I don't know the final spec. But even before extras, the basic list would be £63,015 so it could easily be a £70K car. So £47,395 without even 3,000 miles on the clock is a pretty appealing figure.

And who knows, a few years down the line maybe it too will be one of those sought-after rarities. I'd not bank on that. But one thing's for sure – right now it's a bit of a bargain. 

  • Dan Trent

  • Jaguar

  • F-type

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