Then comes the moment when you start driving these cars back to back and comparing what you find – and the exact opposite of what you’re expecting actually happens. With all of that extra power and torque, you expect the Jaguar to pummel the Porsche on outright performance. Moreover, you expect the F-Type’s big supercharged V8 to drown out any subjective appeal left in the Porsche’s boxer engine. But
nope – not even close.
Here comes surprise number one: the new
911 Carrera S is a very fast sports car. That may
not sound like a huge revelation, but before this car, Porsche had never made a ‘normal’ 911 (one without a Turbo or GT-series badge on its rump) capable of hitting 60mph from rest in less than 4.0sec. This one is, and by no small margin. A full road test on the car is to come, but we can reveal now that, equipped with a PDK transmission, Sport Chrono Plus and launch control, the new Carrera S took a scarcely believable 3.5sec to hit 60mph in our hands.
It’s quicker than a 996-generation Turbo, then,
and quicker even than a 997 GT3 RS. Believe it.
The mid-range torque of turbochargers is only one of many factors that explain the car’s big-hitting pace; excellent traction and a quite astoundingly good two-pedal gearbox are two
of the others. The engine and transmission
work together brilliantly when you ask for every drop of available acceleration, and while the
turbos add urgency and flexibility to the power delivery at lower revs, they cost the car relatively little on its high-rev range. So in flat-out mode,
the Carrera S just feels rapid, quick-shifting and super-keen to gallop on.
For all of its power and bellowing V8 noise, the F-Type R feels much heavier than the 911, and although it goes hard, it’s quite clearly not the match of the Porsche on outright pace, our timing gear clocking it at 4.4sec to 60mph at best. The 911’s thick wave of torque actually makes the Jaguar feel just a little bit peaky, making you wait until 3500rpm for its full portion of twist, whereas the Porsche delivers it below 2000rpm.
At times, traction limits the amount of power you can use in the F-Type. At other times, it’s Jaguar’s eight-speed automatic transmission, which doesn’t have the same shift speed or instinct for the perfect ratio as the Porsche’s seven-speed PDK. Either way, the Jaguar always seems to have a ready-made excuse for not quite keeping up with its German opposition.
You may not think it needs one, of course. What the F-Type R is brilliant at is bowling along at an arm’s length from full speed – at that easily maintained, big-distance-covering, seven-and-a-half-tenths kind of pace that feels brisk but still responsible on the road. As anti-social as it sounds at full throttle, the car’s V8 filters a more measured but still wonderfully sonorous warble into the cabin under part-throttle, with the active exhaust set to ‘naughty’ mode.
For that reason alone, it would make a broader spectrum of journeys feel special than the 911’s six-pot might, being in possession of that little bit more soul.
But that’s not to suggest that the Porsche flat six is humdrum or ordinary – not a bit of it. Even in the face of such bombastic competition, the new twin-turbo 3.0-litre engine retains most of the mechanical charisma for which 911s have become renowned. There’s no doubt that the exhaust note is missing some of the audible detail that long-time owners will be used to. That tappetty, spluttering idle is present but muffled; the fizzing chatter of the
valve train is less obvious at high revs, too. And yet the powerplant still offers a much greater operating rev range than a directly comparable
V6, greater mid-range balance and smoothness and – in spite of some barely detectable turbo lag
at low crank speeds – remarkable responsiveness for a turbocharged engine.