British automobile maker Jaguar has a long-standing tradition of performance in the luxury vehicle market, but the future of the brand’s performance heritage is looking bleak. Recently, many automakers worldwide have shifted focus away from sedans and invested heavily in the SUV market. While Jaguar is present in the SUV market, it is still committed to producing performance sedans as shown by investing is its newest F-Type performance sedan prototype.
The end of an era?
While the new Jaguar F-Type will lean heavily on Jaguar’s high-performance roots, one important trait synonymous with performance driving will no longer be an option, at least in the U.S. market.
In a recent interview, MotorTrend sat down with the president and CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America, Joe Eberhardt and learned that manual shift transmissions would no longer be offered in Jaguar F-Type vehicles starting with 2020 models. Eberhardt’s comment to MotorTrend read as if he didn’t want to see manual shift transmissions disappear from the lineup when he said, “Manuals are gone. We tried.”
The most likely factor in the disappearance of the manual transmission is the low percentage of people identified that can operate them. It’s no secret that most vehicles, especially when we exclude entry-level/commuter types, are equipped with automatic transmissions.
In the early days of automatic transmissions, they were considered less reliable and possessing higher maintenance requirements than manual transmissions. Modern automatics however typically require very little maintenance and usually last the lifetime of the vehicle.
The shift was gradual, but manual shift-equipped models could not withstand the growing momentum of automatic transmissions. First offered as an option in the 1940 Oldsmobile, the automatic transmission has progressed to become standard on most models. No doubt, many more manufacturers will follow Jaguar’s decision and no longer offer a manual shift transmission as an option in any vehicle.
How does this affect new Jaguar models?
Eliminating manual shift transmissions is not the only change affecting future Jaguar buyers. Rumors of cutting out diesel engines from some of the less popular models such as XE and XJ sedans exist. These cost-saving measures are likely paving the way for Jaguar to invest in the newer all-electric vehicle technology.
Jaguar is going to have to do more than eliminate some options to thwart the rising tide of perceived poor quality rolling from its factories. While there is no denying the performance inherent in Jaguar’s line-up, there is evidently something amiss in the core of its quality culture. The 2020 Jaguar F-Pace received the lowest rating from Consumer Reports based on its noisy interior, stiff ride, and poor visibility when backing up.
Consumer Reports criticized the 2020 Jaguar E-Pace based on poor interior and fuel economy ratings. Jaguar’s recently refreshed 2020 XE was found to be uncomfortable for taller passengers and had controls that were at times difficult to master.
What’s next for Jaguar?
It would seem that Jaguar is steering away from its luxury performance car roots and going all-in on the hybrid and electric vehicle market by committing to offer all its vehicles as either hybrid or all-electric beginning in 2020. There’s no doubt that abandoning the manual transmission falls in line with this strategy.
In light of this information, if you are a fan of performance Jaguars with manual transmissions, it might be time to look for leftover 2019 inventory. The opportunity to purchase one of the last of its kind is looming before you. They are sure to be desirable to performance enthusiasts and Jaguar collectors alike in the coming years as fewer and fewer car makers offer manual shift options.