Monday 18th February 2013


Or should that be versus Boxster? PH crunches the numbers to compare

Porsche 911 or Boxster: which IS the Jaguar F-Type up against? It's a discussion that's kept forums busy for months. As the best-selling sports car brand, Porsche clearly defines the sector, so others should fit around it. The F-Type doesn't.

Jaguar says no to existing marketing pigeonholes
Jaguar says no to existing marketing pigeonholes
Jaguar is unrepentant. The global sports car sector is so small, you don't need to build cars that directly rival one another. Indeed, do that and you're arguably on a hiding to nothing. Why build to another brand's price when doing your own thing is more genuine?

Who are they kidding. They're gunning for the 911, pure and simple. It's been benchmarked against the 911. The 911 continually comes up in conversation with Jaguar engineers. The 911 defines the Porsche brand and Jaguar wants the F-Type to do the same for it.

Power stats hint what it is. The range starts with 340hp; a 911 opens with 350hp. A Boxster starts at 275hp and topping out at 315hp. It ain't a Boxster. Was never going to be. Jaguar has designed it to be a 911, without the price tag, just like the original E-Type was a bargain alternative to the 911. Can't remember any tears about Jaguar not building a 356 rival then.

Given all this, does it stack up? We'll infuriate you for making a call withouthaving driven it, but first evidence (and the obvious proviso is that the truth IS in the driving) suggests so.

911 cabrio is obvious rival but starts at £82K
911 cabrio is obvious rival but starts at £82K
It certainly has the visual presence to rival a 911. Reserve judgment on the looks until you see it, particularly the rear end which appears awkward in images but a lot more dramatic and cohesive in real life. Mk1 Boxsters are 10 a penny, relatively, but a 997 still causes a stir. Just as the F-Type will.

Size guarantees it. The Boxster is small, 4,374mm long. The F-Type is 4,470mm long, 21mm shorter than a 911. It has a 2,622mm wheelbase: the Boxster's is 2,475mm, the 911's a shorter 2,450mm. It's 1,923mm wide, 122mm wider than a Boxster, 115mm wider than a 911.

It feels like a 911-level car with purpose - and the fact it's 21mm shorter than a 911 means it also feels unique. Just as you sit low and compactly in a 911, rearward mass neutralized but still possible to sense, the F-Type's impression of being sat way back in the chassis, nice and low, nose stretching ahead and weight contained within it, is also special. An XK with all the fat cut off but still with full-fat engines. Simply, a higher-level, more potent package than a Boxster.

Coming soon to a Porsche mirror near you
Coming soon to a Porsche mirror near you
Cabin vibes count. A Boxster, it feels like a decontented 911. The F-Type feels a cut above the 911, never mind the Boxster. Don't be surprised to see model year upgrades in a 911 interior's perceived quality. Also don't be surprised if Jaguar solves its own internal headache - the positioning of the XK - by giving it more power, more luxury, more decadence. Turning it into a genuine DB9 rival, with six-figure price tag to match? Well, why not? If F-Type does the business, it's the logical next move.

The XK never sparred with the 911. The F-Type is eyeballing it. A 350hp Carrera Cabrio PDK costs £84,114, a 340hp F-Type sells for £58,500 (how much cheaper will the F-Type coupe be?). Jaguar charges you £79,950 for a 495hp F-Type. Porsche charges £94,150 for a 400hp PDK 911 Carrera S soft-top; same top speed, and the Jag's quicker to 62mph.

Still any doubt about what's in the Jag's crosshairs?

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