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  • What cars do you test the new Jaguar F-Type against?

  • The great debate seems to center around whether it's a

  • Boxster or a 911 rival.

  • Luckily for us, this is the V8 S model, which as tested here

  • is 91,695 pounds.

  • So that fixes one problem--

  • it's a 911 rival.

  • Or is it?

  • It only has two seats.

  • And it's way more powerful.

  • It's also much more aggressive looking, perhaps more of an

  • occasional car than a 911.

  • In fact, its closest rival on paper is the

  • Aston Martin V8 Volante.

  • The Aston is less powerful, but offers similar packaging

  • and a heap of beauty.

  • So that's how we came to bring a Jaguar, a Porsche, and a

  • slightly older Aston Martin together.

  • The Jaguar's numbers are emphatic.

  • The supercharged V8 has 495 horsepower.

  • But somehow, the aluminum structure

  • weighs 1,665 kilograms.

  • I know.

  • I don't understand, either.

  • The V8 S gets an active electronic rear diff and 380

  • millimeter front disks.

  • It also has 460 foot-pounds of torque, and that genius

  • eight-speed automatic ZF gearbox.

  • When I first saw the F-Type pricing, I

  • thought they'd gone mad.

  • But digest that little lot, the price doesn't

  • look too bad at all.

  • The Aston is an old car now.

  • But it's still so pretty.

  • It only has 420 horsepower and 346 foot-pounds of torque.

  • And it's another chubby aluminum

  • chappy at 1,710 kilograms.

  • Is British aluminum just lead in disguise?

  • Still, you get a lovely proper six-speed manual gearbox here,

  • and possibly the best badge of the lot.

  • German aluminum must be lighter.

  • The 911 is the only car here with four-ish seats, and yet

  • it weighs just 1,465 kilograms.

  • Its 400 horsepower is way down on the Jag, but its power to

  • weight ratio is kind of up there, as is the price, a

  • crazy 97,816 pounds for this car.

  • I'm not a fan of the strange seven-speed manual in the 911.

  • This car has one.

  • Let's hope it doesn't spoil things.

  • Oh, and the test car has the normal steering and the

  • standard S chassis.

  • So which is better to drive on road, on track, or perhaps

  • more importantly for cars of this type, to be seen in?

  • I think we need to stop getting too caught up in this

  • Jaguar F-Type hype and remember that if you wanted a

  • very cute, quite compact, two-door, British-built

  • roadster, there's been one available for the

  • best part of six years.

  • And it's called the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster.

  • No one else seems to care about it.

  • Everyone seems to be obsessed with

  • comparing this car to Porsches.

  • I thought we'd get a V8 Vantage out and try to remind

  • ourselves why it's a rather lovely little car.

  • This car does have quite a bit in common with the Jaguar.

  • It, too, has a kind of bolted,

  • welded-cum-glued aluminum structure.

  • And yet, despite being aluminum, it's quite heavy.

  • It's 1,690 kilograms.

  • Electric top, quite compact, two-seat cabin with no space

  • behind the seats, quite a long bonnet, quite a stumpy bum.

  • Yeah, it takes less space up on the road

  • than the Jaguar, though.

  • And I have to say, despite not being the new kid on the

  • block, it still does some things that can really teach

  • the Porsche and the Jaguar a few lessons.

  • To start with, we have hydraulic power steering.

  • I've got a lovely manual gear change with three pedals.

  • That's a novel thing, isn't it?

  • People should try that, this manual gearbox thing.

  • It's really rather pleasant.

  • It's normally aspirated, and it makes this noise.

  • [CAR ENGINE]

  • Which, it has to be said, is a rather lovely noise.

  • And I suspect over time, Aston Martin has really learned how

  • to set spring and damper rates against the inevitable lack of

  • stiffness in the chassis because there's no roof.

  • I'm not saying it's not actually very good, because it

  • is quite good.

  • But the car just seems to ride rather nicely.

  • And it's well damped for UK roads.

  • I was expected to represent this car

  • as a bit of a dinosaur.

  • And do you know what?

  • I've had a lovely two days in it.

  • I think it looked beautiful from the outside, too.

  • And that has to be counted.

  • It's not normally something I care about.

  • But in this test, looks really count.

  • This car feels its age inside, though.

  • You've got these rather horrendous Vanquish-era air

  • vents, which I think are probably a

  • Ford or a Volvo product.

  • The ergonomics are all over the place.

  • It doesn't matter too much because some of

  • it looks quite funky.

  • But the dials that move backwards and the fact that

  • when there's any sun in this cabin, you cannot see any of

  • the services whatsoever is a pain in the back side.

  • And the main control button you use for all your computer

  • stuff is hidden behind the gear lever.

  • So yes, it does feel old.

  • It is getting old.

  • But it's a very charming car.

  • Trouble is, it's the most expensive car in the test.

  • But flip side, it's got an Aston Martin badge on it.

  • And I still think that probably carries more kudos

  • certainly than a Jaguar badge and maybe

  • even a Porsche badge.

  • As I drive this car on the road, I'm getting a bit more

  • buffeted in here than I got in the Jag and certainly the 911

  • with its wind deflector up.

  • And I have to say, it is a sort of 8 and 1/2 10ths car.

  • If you drive it up to 8 and 1/2 10ths, it's very good.

  • The steering response is especially pleasant if you put

  • the car accurately on the road.

  • And it's enjoyable.

  • You don't really feel any creak in its inner structure.

  • Push a bit beyond that, which I know is a bit ridiculous

  • because it means you're traveling at silly speeds, and

  • you start to feel it slip a bit behind the Jag, and

  • especially the Porsche.

  • It just can't match the Porsche's feeling of almost

  • being a coupe that happens to have a very large sunroof.

  • But I'm impressed.

  • I thought this would feel much, much older.

  • And it doesn't.

  • We all know the dangers of something being overhyped,

  • like the big night out organized with your mates

  • months in advance.

  • When you do it, it's never quite as good as those

  • impromptu ones, is it?

  • Well, the F-Type is the worst kept secret of 2013.

  • But on the road, it's a damn fine thing.

  • This is what's good about the F-Type as a V8 S with 495

  • horsepower.

  • Well, it's got 495 horsepower, and it's not very big.

  • It's a muscle car.

  • It's naffing fast.

  • Jaguar claims 0 to 100 miles an hour in under nine seconds,

  • and it's entirely believable.

  • I love the way it looks.

  • I love the image it presents.

  • I love the fact that it can chop between being a sort of

  • leave it in drive, very, very fast GT cruiser, but when you

  • snap it into manual, this ZF gearbox, such good manual

  • shifts, you really have something quite sharp.

  • I love the fact that it's not too stiffly sprung, and that

  • it's well damped.

  • And it rides really very well over UK roads.

  • I love the fact the structure's really very stiff.

  • And the steering column remains resolutely in place,

  • far better than in the XK.

  • I like the cabin on the whole.

  • It's a little bit trying too hard in places.

  • But it works well.

  • And it's got some lovely special touches.

  • Listen to that noise.

  • I mean, that's ridiculous.

  • [CAR ENGINE]

  • The noise?

  • Well, the noise will be for some people an utter

  • celebration of everything that's right

  • about a sports car.

  • For other people, they'll hate it.

  • It's too ostentatious and too loud.

  • There's a button here.

  • You can turn the exhaust down.

  • But even then, it's still pretty raucous.

  • Let's break it down then into steering, chassis, engine,

  • brakes, that kind of thing.

  • Steering, really very little feel whatsoever.

  • But we're used to that with modern cars.

  • My problem is not with the steering apparatus itself,

  • which is fine, not brilliant.

  • A Boxster steers better than this car.

  • Anyone that says it doesn't is lying if you ask me.

  • It's the steering wheel itself.

  • This larger steering wheel and paddle set up is taken from

  • the larger XJ Saloon.

  • And it works fine there.

  • But the center of the wheel's very low.

  • And the paddles are sort of weird, rubberized finish, but

  • painted gold.

  • And their action is very un-special, for want of a

  • better phrase.

  • I just thought the Jaguar could have tried a bit harder,

  • given how well the car actually shifts, to give us

  • something a bit more special.

  • To me, it feels a bit ordinary.

  • And the steering hold really is so thick.

  • It doesn't need to be this thick.

  • I need to be a gorilla to get my hands around it.

  • I know.

  • Make the obvious jokes now.

  • Ride and handling, very, very clever for UK roads.

  • Difficult to fault at normal speed, I have to say.

  • The biggest problem I have is how wide the car is.

  • You see, it is a very wide car, the F-Type, perhaps wider

  • than is strictly necessary.

  • And on UK roads, I'm aware of it more than I want to be in

  • what should be a Boxster rival.

  • Even in a 911, I don't think about the width of the car the

  • way I do this one.

  • Brakes are pretty good.

  • There's a general feeling of

  • disconnection in the car, though.

  • It's not really bad.

  • But in both the Aston and the Porsche, I just feel like I'm

  • more connected to the road than I am in this.

  • You can take that either way.

  • You can either say it gives this better GT credentials

  • than the other two.

  • Or perhaps there's something that's just

  • slightly missing there.

  • Not that it isn't exciting, though, the noise, the sheer

  • speed of it, and the character of the car

  • really shines through.

  • Does it really need to weigh well over

  • 1,650 kilograms, though?

  • That's the bit that worries me.

  • It's not a big car.

  • And it's hundreds of kilograms more than even the 911.

  • I found that really weird.

  • And when I get in the car, and I start it up, and the exhaust

  • makes that lovely, boomy burble, and then, these air

  • vents rise up out of the dashboard, it does make you

  • think, those were electric motors doing that.

  • Why does that need to happen?

  • Is that necessary in a sports car?

  • Has Jaguar got its priorities slightly wrong?

  • I'm not sure.

  • It's given us a car that's so much more than a slightly cut

  • down XK on the road, though.

  • This is, for UK roads, a very, very

  • clever car, lovely indeed.

  • [CAR ENGINE]

  • How on Earth does Porsche make a hybrid construction, ie,

  • steel and aluminum car, that's lighter than both of the

  • all-aluminum British cars?

  • I don't know.

  • But this car is under 1,500 kilograms.

  • And it's quite a big thing.

  • And it's got four seats.

  • That's alchemy, isn't it?

  • [CAR ENGINE]

  • On the road, the 911, I'm afraid to say it, shines.