Jaguar F-Type R Coupé
List price £87,060
Target Price £79,995
Range-topping F-Type has lots more power than the Porsche, but is it as good to drive?
Porsche 911 Carrera S PDK
List price £88,245
Target Price £88,245
Carrera S gets a new 3.0 turbocharged engine on top of a host of other upgrades
You don’t mess with a winning formula. That’s the first rule of business, which is why Porsche’s decision to downsize the engines of its lower-level 911s and fit turbochargers to make up the shortfall is quite a risk.
Yes, there’s been a halo Turbo model for almost 40 years, but it’s the cheaper and vastly more popular Carrera and Carrera S that have always defined the range and balanced the books.
To find out if the changes are worth the claimed fuel-efficiency benefits we’re pitting the new Carrera S against Jaguar's stunning F-Type Coupé. The range-topping R model costs about the same as its German rival, yet packs more power and comes better equipped.
What are they like to drive?
A quick glance at the vital stats makes this seem like an unfair fight. The F-Type weighs in with a mighty 5.0-litre supercharged V8 and 542bhp, whereas the 911 makes do with a comparatively tame 3.0-litre flat-six turbo and 414bhp. That’s like lining Tyson Fury up against Amir Kahn.
Except it isn’t, because in the car world a lower weight almost always beats raw power, and the 911 weighs some 120kg less than its British rival. This, along with its faster-shifting automatic gearbox and superior traction, helps it slingshot away from a standstill, leaving the F-Type floundering as it struggles to transfer all of its power to the road.
By 30mph the 911 is already well ahead and it passes 60mph in a barely believable 3.5 seconds. From 30mph onwards the F-Type isn’t completely embarrassed but continues to lose ground to its rival at a steady rate right up to the national limit. The new Carrera S isn’t just fast, it’s savagely quick.
In pure objective terms, then, this latest turbocharged 911 beats not only the F-Type but also its predecessor. However, because there’s no longer any point in revving the flat-six engine beyond 7000rpm (even though you can) you’re robbed of the enjoyment of doing so. The fact there’s more pulling power at lower revs doesn’t quite make up for that.
There’s also the noise. To the untrained ear the 911 sounds much the same as ever, snarling at low revs and howling when you accelerate hard. However, it no longer screams as piercingly when you rev the engine to its redline, and if you’re an existing 911 owner you’ll miss that. By contrast, few sports cars at any price sounds as good as the F-Type; its V8 roars when you put you foot down and the quad exhausts pop and spit angrily when you lift off the accelerator.
It’s no contest through the corners, though. Turn the F-Type’s steering wheel and there’s a small pause before the nose of the car reacts, which you simply don’t notice in the lighter and stiffer 911. The 911 also stays flatter through twists and turns, and ultimately it’ll tear round bends at speeds that would have the F-Type sliding off the road.
There’s still plenty of fun to be had at the helm of the F-Type on a twisty B-road, though, and the steering is quick and precise – even if it’s too heavy when you select Dynamic mode. The 911’s steering isn’t as quick but streams a little more information to your fingers.
The 911 rides on adaptive suspension (or PASM) as standard, which allows you to stiffen the dampers by pressing a button on the centre console. However, our test car had 20mm lowered suspension (£558) and was fairly abrupt over sharp-edged bumps. Wider experience suggests you’re better saving the money and enjoying a more comfortable low-speed ride – you’ll lose barely any cornering ability.
The F-Type also rides on adaptive suspension but is always that bit more unsettled at low speeds.
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