Look, all we want is an honest to goodness England versus Germany showdown with a British contender set against a Porsche of equal price and performance. Too much to ask?
- with cameo appearance from new
- may well give us that in due course.
Aims are similar, numbers very different
But we thought we'd nailed it with manual
versus the most basic stickshift Carrera on Porsche GB's press fleet. Until we saw the info sheets. Credit to Jaguar - our entry-level 340hp V6 Coupe looks as close to 'rental spec' as you can get on an F-Type, what with its white paint and space saver-like 18-inch wheels. Even if Glacier White is in fact a £700 option and Jag has loaded on another £7,500 of additional gizmos to bring the bottom line to £58,790.
Enter Porsche. The only manual 911 on its fleet at the moment is a GTS. A C4 with a price nearly double that of the Jag. Ah. A rear-driven Carrera 2 for a more honest comparison with the F-Type? Nearest available a GTS PDK. Costing £91,908 out of the box and £108,037 with options.
Fair test? Not even close. Oh well. Photographer and test track are booked anyway. Rude not to see what kind of comparison we can contrive.
Yes, it's possible we're a little obsessed with trying to nail that perfect F-Type versus 911 showdown. But even if you look at the top of the range and the seemingly comparable 550hp R AWD Coupe its £91,660 starting price is nearly £30K less than a 520hp 911 Turbo. That tempting overlap in the two ranges just isn't there, no matter how hard you look.
Have 18s ever looked this small?
Which really is tiresome. Because, seemingly, an F-Type is ideally placed to act as the slightly rough around the edges alternative to the ever predictable Porsche. Both have the feel of the kind of car you always promised yourself when the hard work paid off, both tick all the emotional boxes of social respectability with a degree of 'still got it' virility and both can do the daily driver and Sundays and fundays thing with equal aplomb.
Given they are so far apart in price is there anything to be gained in comparing them? We'll try. The character of the Jaguar is an interesting thing to consider, given it is at polar opposite to the ruthlessly efficient Porsche. This is a proper feelgood car, packed with little flourishes that will delight over casual acquaintance and long-term ownership alike. Those logo'd, pop-out door handles impress at a superficial level, for instance, while the free-revving and charismatic supercharged V6 feels more than enough even in 'base' 340hp trim. No harm that it sounds brilliant too, with a crisp rasp as the revs rise and just enough contrived crackling on lift-off to be amusing and not intrusive.
And as a manual it's just ... fun! Not the fastest, not the most nailed down and on a track it wouldn't see which way a Cayman, let alone a base Carrera, went. But it's eager to please and refreshingly straightforward.
The new electric steering is really impressive; typically Jaguar light it still feels predictable and tricks you into thinking the F-Type doesn't weigh as much as it does. The manual gearbox takes a little manhandling and appears almost an anachronism in a modern sports car but - yes - involves you in the action. And, by heck, does it like to go sideways. Which we'll return to in our verdict...
Nearly twice the price, automatic gearbox, 90hp more ... not much of a comparison is it really? Certainly Porsche has carefully managed the Carrera's transition from a car many of us still think is a £60-£70K purchase into one that actually costs £100K-plus with a few options.
Looks expensive, is expensive!
looks like it's worth it too. Familiar or not, the 20mm drop on this car's optional PASM Sport suspension, the black centre-locks and the widebody shell all look absolutely fantastic. Same inside. The button count is a little overwhelming but the quality of execution is hard to argue with and there's little to suggest it'll look or feel any less satisfying three, four or more years down the line.
We've already discussed at length how Porsche's options strategy makes comparing one GTS with another - let alone rivals - very difficult. Suffice to say this one has all the toys, including the (standard for GTS) active engine mounts and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus - the latter based around a proper electronically controlled locking diff comparable with that used by posher F-Types than the one we have here.
So you'll rightly feel pretty good about yourself having bought one. But if we look again at the only thing we can truly compare in these two cars - character - there's an aloofness in the Porsche akin to punching above your weight in a relationship. You put all the effort in with the GTS but it seems to think merely sharing its company is enough and doesn't seem to give much back.
PDK certainly dulls the connection, being seamlessly fast and smooth and blipping away nicely on downshifts. And the engine is beautifully linear in its delivery, thriving on revs and building to a seriously ferocious howl the further round the rev counter you go. You might want to keep an eye on the speedo too though - it's all so easy and the limits so distant you can record some very serious speeds without even prickling a single neck hair. Which leads us to...
It's no secret the Jaguar F-Type is a car built to shine in roadtests. If the natural instinct to back the home team isn't enough it'll flatter even the most ham-fisted hack with easily balanced slides, guaranteed to keep the picture desk happy. On the same corner, in the same hands, at comparable speeds and on the same day the Porsche doesn't want to know. It just goes faster. And faster. And faster, the PTV Plus delivering huge traction with just a smidge of understeer on the limit to dissuade you from pushing any harder. And yet even a lift won't provoke it. Blah - inert. Blah - aloof. Blah ... actually just bloody effective. Ooh look, have another pic of a Jag trailing lots of tyre smoke instead.
Thing is, the stuff that matters to your average insecure motoring hack isn't the same as what matters to owners weirdly not so fixated on chewing through tyres on a half-hourly basis. By that measure the 911, whatever the price difference, is the 'better' car.
But even if you don't drive everywhere on the lock-stops there's a sense modern Jaguar has a real understanding of the kind of messages keen drivers want from their cars, even when driven at more pedestrian speeds. The manual V6 is a bit of an old-school hooligan but you can have your F-Type four-wheel drive, auto shifting and as every day usable as any 911 too. If there is an England versus Germany battle here it's less at a specific price point and more at an emotional level. From Lotus to McLaren or Jaguar to Aston Martin, the cars being built here at the moment seem more in tune than anyone else's to the idea it's about more than just going fast, it's got to feel it too.
Compulsory sideways F-Type video...
Video: Drifting With A Jaguar F-Type Manual
PORSCHE 911 CARRERA GTS
Engine: 3,800cc 6-cyl
Transmission: 7-speed PDK, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 430@7,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 325@5,750rpm
Top speed: 190mph
Weight: 1,425kg (unladen)
MPG: 29.7mpg (NEDC combined)
Price: £91,098 (price as tested £108,037, comprising PDK gearbox £2,817, Black Leather & Carmine Red Interior GTS Package £2,234, Automatically dimming mirrors £372, PASM Sport Suspension £558, vehicle key painted £170, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes £5,787, Bluetooth telephone module £558, Full LED Headlights incl. PDLS+ £1,032, ParkAssist front and rear £639, Cruise control £267 and Sports bucket seats with memory package £2,505)
JAGUAR F-TYPE COUPE
Engine: 2,995cc V6 supercharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 340@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 332@3,500rpm
0-62mph: 5.7 sec
Top speed: 161mph
Weight: 1,567kg ('from')
MPG: 28.8mpg (NEDC combined)
Price: £51,260 (Price as tested £58,790, comprising Glacier White Paint £700, Panoramic Roof £1,250, Visibility Pack £1,075, Parking Pack £500, Seat Memory Pack 2 £1,150, Jaguar Smart Key System with Keyless start and Keyless entry £450, Heated Seats £350, Heated Steering Wheel £250, Valet Mode £150, dual zone automatic climate control £350, air quality sensing with auto recirculation £55, sports sun visor with mirror £50, red seatbelts £150, powered bootlid £450, Configurable Ambient Interior Lighting £250 and Cruise Control £350)
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