PSST. Want to enter the elite sports car realm and save yourself about a hundred grand in the process?
Getting into the bargain basement model has never been so appealing than in the Jaguar F-Type. At just under $140k that may sound hefty to many, but when you're up against the likes of the Porsche 911 or a Mercedes-AMG GT S it's a steal.
But get to the gym and prepare the left side of your body for an engaging assault rarely seen nowadays… this is a manual.
Yes my lazy fellow Australians who have embraced steering wheel paddles and self-shifters quicker than Mitchell Pearce on a poodle, you can still swap cogs yourself. We reacquainted ourselves with the stick shift in this magnificently proportioned F-Type which proved to be bloody good fun.
For those who haven't been religiously doing their core strength exercise, slinking into the cockpit takes some practise to look equally as sexy as the vehicle. Getting inside with airs and graces can be difficult due to the low-slung positioning, but that's what you get with sports cars.
Once inside the leather and suede trimmed chairs are electrically adjustable in just about all directions with the controls mounted on the doors. Even the torso bolsters can be changed depending on your drive mood - hug your tight for when the terrain gets all curvy and romantic, let them loose for relaxed highway cruising.
The driver has a basic binnacle view with a speedo on the left, tacho on the right, and central digital display which can be configured with a range of information including sat nav directions or trip information.
Central dash operations do well to hide the complexities within, a colour touch-screen has easy shortcuts to stereo, phone, climate control and sat nav operations but there can be a slight delay when hitting buttons.
Three circular dials are available for the air-conditioning, and adding some theatre to the cabin experience are the air vents which pop up from the dash when in operation and then gently lower when the vehicle is turned off. Quite marvellous.
On the road
Engaging and sublime, the rear-wheel drive and manual shift operation is a joy. It's a combination which excites drivers the world over and Jaguar has produced a cracker with the F-Type.
While there is a V8 available (from $245,280), this supercharged V6 feels superbly balanced despite missing out on the extra mumbo.
Growling from start-up, there's a button to accentuate the exhaust soundtrack (oh, how we love you) along with another control which changes the mood to dynamic and allow for sharper acceleration response and a heavier feel through the electric steering.
Change direction with vigour and the F-Type never failed to deliver admirable results. That bent six just keeps delivering thrills, and while it's not quite a V8, it still crackles on lift and barks enthusiastically when pushed above 2500rpm.
Sitting low on firm suspension, the ride quality is surprisingly good. Hefty bumps are felt but never is the performance compromised with limited road noise intrusion.
There are short shifts between cogs, although you do need to muscle the changes at low speed.
What do you get?
All F-Types have aluminium body structure which helps deliver a lithe kerb weight and brilliant power-to-weight, along with HID Xenon headlamps, LED signature lights, 18-inch alloys, sports seats with leather and Suedecloth facings, three-spoke leather steering wheel, 20.32cm colour touch-screen, door handles which pop out when unlocked, Meridian sounds with hone and audio integration, performance brakes and an electric spoiler which pops up at 100kmh.
Drop-top shoppers should look at the BMW M4 Convertible ($161,900), Mercedes-Benz SL400 ($228,610) and the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet ($229,500).
We achieved the official fuel consumption figure of less than 10 litres for every 100km. And to be fair old chaps, we weren't being kind on the accelerator.
Onlookers love nothing more than to see a drop-top caught in the rain, but the roof can be operated electronically at speeds below 48kmh, opening and shutting in less than 15 seconds. Wind buffeting is limited too, with the occupants able to have a conversation easily with the lid off.
There are two cup holders between passengers which can also handle large bottles… although they can impede the ability to swap cogs. In the console is the auxiliary and USB jacks but storage is at a minimum.
Boot space is minuscule when the space saver tyre is positioned inside. Fitting even a small suitcase is impossible, and even an overnight stay would require you to pack gear around the tyre, then put it in a soft bag at your destination.
Anointed a worthy successor to the breathtaking 1960s E-Type, there is no doubting this is a beautiful sports car.
Yet we prefer the coupe for its more defined curves over the rag-top and it's about $20,000 less expensive than the convertible. Whichever the choice, there's a rear end which trumps Kylie Minogue and a muscular front that has Chris Hemsworth jealous.
There are more options for more powerful F-Types with all-paw grip, but given this V6's ability and its engaging handling nature, justifying the extra coin can be a difficult argument within our autobahn-less highways. This base-model F-Type still looks spectacular, sounds magnificent and offers a real driving experience too often forgotten nowadays.
What matters most
What we liked: Brilliantly fun to drive, impressive soundtrack from a six-cylinder,
What we'd like to see: Space saver spare dropped below the boot line, less grunt needed for shifts.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist for the same period. You get three years or 100,000km of free scheduled service (wear and tear items not included such as battery, oils or tyres).
Model: MY16 Jaguar F-Type V6 Convertible.
Details: Two-seat rear-wheel drive convertible sports car.
Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol generating maximum power of 250kW @ 6500rpm and peak torque of 450Nm @ 3500-5000rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed manual.
Consumption: 9.8 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance 0-100kmh: 5.7 seconds; top speed 260kmh.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $137,780.
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