V8 vs flat-six: Jaguar F-Type R battles Porsche 911


By way of contrast, the 911 is at once more communicative and can be coaxed more precisely and instinctively than the F-Type. It’s easier to drive quickly and feels more special when driven slowly – although, it must be said, the enticing rumble of the Jaguar’s engine is pretty special also.

And what an engine. If only it came with drivability the equal of its audible drama. Some Porsche flat sixes might be able to compete with a great V8 like the F-Type’s for audible character (and the one in the car in our little twin test below gets pretty close, by the way), but a modern twin-turbocharged one doesn’t. The Bridgend 5.0-litre is never better than when gargling majestically from 3500rpm to 5000rpm at full throttle, and then crackling after a lift as if the music has just stopped at a fireworks display.

But before you’ve learned to keep the Jaguar’s gearbox in manual mode in order to prevent it from needing to shuffle ratios before it can respond meaningfully to any lug of power, you’ll find it’s the Porsche’s combination of twin-turbo flat six and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that’s more likely to be in the right gear and ready to go, whenever you might need it to be. The Jaguar’s engine is a wonderful treat when at its very best, but it’s less consistently brilliant than that of the Porsche.

Precisely the same observation could be made about the respective chassis of these cars. The Jaguar gets into a lovely fluent stride when conditions suit it, when the bends are faster and smoother and there’s a bit of room to give the engine its head and feel the rear axle gently squirm with the workload. It begins to sit heavily on its dampers when the surface gets tougher, though, and particularly so in its Dynamic mode.

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Meanwhile, the sense of slightly muted elasticity and tactile compliance evident in the steering, which doesn’t bother you so much when you’re arcing more gently around curves, increasingly becomes an obstacle when you’re continually turning this way and that.

The Porsche steers superbly; you feel as if you can adjust the car’s course by the millimetre and as if you know the instant the front sidewalls load up every time you turn the rim. It doesn’t do fast and fluent quite like the Jaguar but, instead, from both powertrain and chassis, it produces this super-responsive yet entirely progressive sense of poise. It’s fit for any road or track and would make you guess its weight advantage over its rival was greater than it really is.

And it always involves. This may be a well-worn road test cliché, but while the Jaguar feels at times like it’s launching you into conflict with the surface underneath you and the physics acting upon it, the Porsche engages you in a fascinating, instructive conversation with both. Want to go faster? Here’s how, it seems to say. Fancy a different line and way around that bend of yours? Take your pick.



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