We take two of the most desirable sports cars available in the world today onto the track to find out which one prevails. It’s Spitfire versus Messerschmitt all over again!
This is a bit of a grudge match – it’s Britain versus Germany, Spitfire versus Messerschmitt. Now, we know from history which one ruled the skies – against all odds – but the grudge match I’m referring to is the result of an event that’s much more recent.
You see, for our 75th issue earlier this year, we brought a number of very special machines to the BIC – among them were the Porsche 911 Carrera S and Jaguar XKR. The long and the short of it is that the Jag got murdered on the track. But then, the XKR was always more GT car rather than out-and-out sports car. So, this time we’ve brought along the sportiest Jag in 50 years – the all-new F-Type. And after having driven it in Spain earlier this year, we know that the F-Type is a worthy successor to the legendary E-Type – which we also spent some time in a few months before, just to get some perspective.
Suffice to say, the F-Type is a brilliant sports car – not only is it absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, but it also goes as well as it looks. This is a proper sports car. So, the only thing left to do was to pit it against a car that’s been honed and developed in the most Germanic way possible over the last half-decade. The E and the 911 fought it out 50 years ago, and now we’re back with a current 911 and the F-Type. It’s days like this that we live for.
Both cars cost about the same – after all, what’s a few dozen lakhs when you’re dealing in this stratosphere. The 911 Carrera S comes in at 1.4 crores, but add on a couple of options and you leave that figure well behind. The F-Type V8S that we have here starts at 1.6 crores. So, both better deliver.
The Jag has a clear advantage under the hood. Its long snout encases a mother of a V8. The same engine, in fact, that the XKR had – but this time it has a chassis to match its effortless, yet gargantuan, grunt. The 5.0 litre supercharged V8 produces 488 horses and 625Nm of tarmac crunching force – better known as torque. The 911 has a 3.8 litre flat six that makes a not inconsiderable 400 horsepower, but it’s exactly 88 short of the Jag. There is a catch though. Despite the Jags all-aluminium architecture, it is about 150 kilos heavier than the 911 – which means that in the sprint to 100km/h, the Porsche has the edge by two-tenths of a second (at 4.1 seconds). So, neither is a slouch, but which one can carve out a quicker lap around the 5.1 kilometres of the BIC.
So, the challenger first – the F-Type. And the first thing you notice in this car is the sound – oh the sound! The wail, crackle, pop, and general chatter of the exhaust in the F-Type is pure automotive seduction. It may be intentionally engineered to induce such a response, but it works – it just lends another dimension to the driving experience that’s missing in every other machine on the planet. Every gear change is like a clap from the god of thunder. And this is the only car that I can think of that sounds as good, if not better, on the overrun as on the power. Put the top down and you can immerse yourself in this aural extravaganza, and simply forget about technicalities such as lap times. But, we have a job to do. So, the top goes up – for better aerodynamics – and the traction control gets turned off. The last step of the equation is also the most daunting – the right foot must go to the floor!
Oh my god, what power – what instant, savage grunt. It simply pins you back in your seat and sets forth as if it truly were a Spitfire reaching for the sky. Luckily, the brakes are just as good, and calm things down nicely at the end of the back straight. In dynamic more, the steering is quite heavy, and feels less delicate than the V6 S I drove a few months earlier. It directs the car exactly where you point it though, so it’s best to concentrate on the job at hand. 99% percent of that concentration goes towards controlling your right foot though, because if you so much as give it one millimetre of extra throttle, the back end will take over and have you counter-steering for your life. And mine is worth a lot less than 1.6 crores, so I was paying strict attention. Now, I could have just left the electronics on to work their magic, and deftly compensate for my over eager right foot, but as they say – you only truly feel truly alive when you’re on the brink of death. And boy did I feel alive.
I tried to calm things down to set a lap time, and found that my palms were sweating – now that’s never happened before! The good thing is, though, that this chassis works brilliantly is transmitting your inputs to the track surface. The balance of the car is incredibly neutral, and the 8-speed ZF gearbox, with proper paddles behind the steering, work brilliantly at assisting you in putting the power down. Try and push to the absolute limit though, and the car feels a little skittish. It like you’re dancing with the devil a little bit. You’re never completely comfortable, but you are completely in awe of the power and sound show put on by the drivetrain.
The 911 is a completely different animal. Yes the exhaust has a wail that I could listen to forever. The best part, for me, is that the induction and exhaust sound both come from the same direction – from behind you – and there’s something about that which really turns me on. It literally feels like you’re riding a road-going rocket. Plus, the ferocity of the sound (and the power delivery) just keeps on rising with the revs – all the way to well past 7,000rpm, where it makes full use all of its 400 horses. The twin-clutch gearbox is just as ferocious. In Sport-Plus, it gives you a proper shove every time it changes gear. But you do get the sense that it’ll continue to withstand this type of abuse day-after-day, year-after-year, and just keep getting better-and-better. Where a normal machine will be left panting and asking for forgiveness, the Porsche will just be getting warmed up. It truly has that level of integrity. It really does feel like a machine that’s been honed to perfection year-after-year for the past 50 years.
Unfortunately though, this 911, like the last one we tested, was fitted with the same stupid steering mounted controls to change through the gearbox. They’re nothing short of ridiculous, so please ensure that you spec your car with proper paddles – or, better yet, a seven-speed manual gearbox. That apart, around a full lap of the circuit, the 911 just feels better connected to the road than the F-Type. You can throw it into corners with sheer abandon, and the front end will bite instantly – even if it gets a little light right after turn-in. Coming out of corners, though, is where the 911 gives you complete confidence – you just nail the throttle to the floor and it squats down and powers out using the weight of its engine on the rear axel to give you stupendous grip. There is an aggression, a cohesion, that you simply can’t find in any other machine.
And this reflects in the lap times. The F-Type has more speed on the straights – it tops out at 237km/h at the end of the back straight before braking for turn four, but the 911 is close at 233km/h. And the 911 is simply able to carry more speed through the corners than the Jaguar – the result of which is that the Porsche is 2.5 seconds quicker around a full lap. Bear in mind, though, that the 911 is the second quickest car we’ve tested around the BIC, and the Jaguar is the fourth – so it’s not exactly chopped liver!
There are very few cars that match the Jaguar for drama – for theatre. The door handles deploy on the outside, and the air vents deploy on the inside. It’s got a beautiful cabin with a true cockpit-like feel. The gear lever, which takes its cue from the joystick of a fighter aircraft, is brilliant to hold. The rear end rotates on-demand – you can hold the most ridiculous angles in the F-Type. It is truly one of the most striking and entertaining cars I’ve ever driven.
The 911, on the other hand, is all about surgical precision and accuracy. It has a silhouette that’s unmistakable – legendary even. And there’s a reason for that – it simply remains one of the best drivers cars on the planet, period!
So, if you want a car that’s dripping in style and is also wildly entertaining, get the F-Type – but the V6 S, not the V8. The V6 S is better balanced, virtually as fast, and feels a lot more tactile. Also, make sure you choose the carbon wheels and flat-bottom steering.
If you want a car that has proper racing pedigree, and a driving experience that reflects that – not to mention the fact that it’s built like a tank – get yourself a 911. But do get yourself a manual gearbox, would you. Oh, and I would check the box for the carbon-ceramic brakes as well if you’re planning a little track time.
At the end of the day, though, both cars are marvels of engineering and design. The fact that the F-Type comes so close to the 911 says a lot about the Jaguar of the present day – and there’s more to come in the near future. Both cars are proper driver’s cars, in addition to being stunning style statements. But they do deserve to be driven – properly. So, if you can afford to drop a crore-and-a-half on your favourite sports car, you can afford to rent the BIC to truly experience what these machines are capable of – smile inducing, but butt clenching, fun!
- JAGUAR F-TYPE V8S
- PORSCHE 911 CARRERA S PDK
Engine: 5,000cc / 8 Cylinders / 32 Valves / Direct Injection / Supercharged
Transmission: 8-Speed Quickshift / Rear-Wheel Drive
Power: 488bhp @ 6500rpm
Torque: 625nm @ 2500-5500rpm
Acceleration: 0-100km/h – 4.3 sec
Price: Rs.1.55 crores (estimated ex-showroom, Delhi)
Engine: 3.8 litres / Horizontally-opposed 6 cylinders / 24 valves / Direct Injection
Transmission:7-Speed dual clutch PDK / Rear-wheel Drive
Power: 400bhp @ 7000rpm
Torque: 440Nm @ 5600rpm Acceleration: 0-100km/h –4.1 sec
Price: Rs.1.4 crores (ex-showroom, Delhi)