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Good news from Jaguar! The F-Type’s first major round of updates brings with it that increasingly rare beast: a manual gearbox.

The 2016 model year F has all manner of new goodies, but we can’t help but get a little excited about the fact it’s now available with a proper stick and three pedals.

That new gearbox option joins the range alongside all-wheel drive, electric power steering and a more aggressive body styling package. You can now choose from 15 different F-Types if you include the barmy Project 7. Jag’s scrap with the Porsche 911 really is on.

The manual gearbox has six speeds and is available only on rear-drive V6-engined F-Types. Rather than a throwaway option for those not willing to stump up for a paddleshift gearbox (though it is £1800 cheaper), the manual has instead been honed for the minority of buyers specifically - and increasingly fruitlessly - seeking a stick-shift sports car.

Everything from the pedal spacing to the shape of the centre console armrest has been revised, says Jaguar, while the shift throw is nice and short. There’s no auto-blip on downchanges like you’ll find in Porsches; Jaguar says a sharper throttle pedal negates the need for it, for those that care. There’s an anti-stall function, too, and happily, no degradation of the 0-60mph sprint or top speed by going manual.

The 4WD system we already knew about, but Jaguar has filled us in on all the whys’n’wherefores. Assisted by a brake-based torque vectoring system and something called Intelligent Driveline Dynamics, Jag tells us it the all-wheel-drive F-Type retains the feel of rear-wheel drive.

In normal driving, the rear wheels handle all the power - increasing efficiency and fun - with a spread to the front axle only occurring when the electronics deem it necessary. The know-how of cousin Land Rover came in handy here.

All-wheel drive is available on V6 S and V8 R F-Types, and can only be optioned with the Quickshift automatic gearbox. In the F-Type R, its extra traction dips the 0-60mph time below four seconds for the first time.

And on a related note, the range-topping 488bhp F-Type V8 S Convertible is replaced by a 542bhp V8 R, providing parity with the Coupe range.

Electric power steering also makes its debut on a Jaguar sports car. Notorious for their lack of feel compared to hydraulic predecessors, EPAS systems don’t always get the best press. Not so here, says Jag. The system has been six years in the making and promises are big.

“We felt very strongly that the efficiency gains offered by Electric Power Assisted Steering should be matched by levels of feel, feedback and responsiveness that would enhance the F-Type driving experience still further,” says Jag’s chief technical specialist, Tim Clark.

“We’re satisfied that our EPAS system outperforms anything we’ve previously offered, providing the agility and interaction you’d demand of a Jaguar sports car.”

Other fancy new bits include a more assertive ‘Sport Design’ styling pack, standard on R models and optional elsewhere, and improved smartphone connectivity. This allows remote operation of the heating and checking of fuel levels, as well as an alert and tracking service should the car be pilfered.

Prices for the updated F-Type start at £51,250 for a RWD, manual V6 Coupe, rising to £97,135 for a 4WD V8 R Convertible, with all manner of combinations in between.

The F-Type’s increasingly complex range echoes the Porsche 911’s better than ever. A fact which only serves to whet our appetite for a stripped-out GT3 rival yet more…

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