The Jaguar F-Type is one of the most exciting and important cars in Jaguar’s history. On paper, the spiritual successor to the legendary E-Type promises enough style, performance and prestige to challenge the Mercedes-Benz SLK Roadsters, BMW Z4s and Porsche Boxsters of this world without breaking a sweat. But many will argue it’s so capable, so brilliantly concieved that it’ll punch above its weight class and take on the mighty Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet and Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster — two of the finest, most established sports cars on the market. So, can it deliver the goods, or is Jaguar about to fight a losing battle? We took an in-depth look at all three cars to see how they stacked up.
You have to be emotionally castrated not to love the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. It has cemented itself in history as one of the most attractive vehicles of all time. It’s an incredibly well proportioned thing, muscular yet athletic, oozing cool like it sprung a leak. OK, its case isn’t helped by the fact it looks almost identical to most other products in the Aston Martin range — most people won’t know whether you’re driving a DBS, a Rapide, Vanquish or DBS but to hell with it. Aston Martins cars all look the same: gorgeous.
The Jagaur F-Type isn’t quite as attractive as the Aston, but that’s like saying Cheryl Cole isn’t quite as pretty as Angelina Jolie — it’s still beautiful. It emulates the stunning C-X16 concept car, retaining the aggressive front end and narrow wrap-around lights at the rear. Its design is actually quite mundane when viewed in profile – some might say it resembles a stretched Mazda MX-5 – and the deletion of its roof means it loses some of the C-X16’s muscularity. But there really is no denying it’s stunning – it is, unquestionably, the best Jag since the legendary E-Type.
The Porsche 911 is an acquired taste. It’s an arresting sight – when people see one they know exactly what it is and what sort of performance it delivers. But there’s no debating the fact that – particularly in cabriolet form – it’s not quite as well proportioned as a Vantage. Its lardy bottom – a consequence of its rear engined layout – spoils its otherwise athletic design and it is, lets face it, a bit too similar to the VW Beetle.
Best design: Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
The Jaguar F-Type is available in three flavours – the standard F-Type for relative paupers, the F-Type S for those with a bit more disposable income and the F-Type V8 S — the one Premier League footballers will buy. The basic and S-spec cars use Jaguar’s 3-litre V6 tuned to 335bhp and 375bhp respectively, while the top of the range V8 S uses the company’s acclaimed supercharged V8 which in this case churns out 488bhp and 625Nm of torque.
The entry-level car is no slouch. It’ll accelerate from a standstill to 62mph in 5.3 seconds and keep going until it hits an electronically restricted 171mph. That’s exceptionally quick for a car using a naturally-aspirated V6 engine. The straight-six unit inside the Porsche 911 Carrera produces slightly more power – 350bhp — and is therefore marginally quicker, completing the 0-62mph sprint in 5 seconds dead before reaching a terminal velocity of 178mph. The entry-level Vantage, with its huge V8 engine, chucks out more power still – 420bhp — yet its 4.9-second sprint time isn’t exactly electric in this company.
At the top end of the scale, the F-Type V8 S manages to best both the 911 Carrera S Cabriolet and V8 Vantage Roadster. Its impressive 488bhp dwarfs that particular 911’s 400bhp and the 430bhp offered by the top end V8 Vantage S. It’ll reach 62mph in 4.3 seconds, while the Porsche and the Aston Martin take 4.7 and 4.5 seconds respectively.
To Porsche’s credit, its flagship models, the 911 Turbo and Turbo S Cabriolets do offer as much as 530bhp, but we’ve kept those out of the comparison due to the fact they cost nearly twice as much as an entry-level F-Type.
Best performance: Jaguar F-Type.
Economy & environment
Jaguar has yet to announce fuel economy figures for the F-Type, however we have an idea how thirsty the top-end V8 model will be because that engine appears in several of the company’s other cars. The engine, in the slightly larger, slightly more aggressively tuned Jaguar XK-R drinks like a fish, returning 14.9mpg combined. It’s not exactly kind to the environment, either, with CO2 emissions of 292g/km. The two V6-engined F-Types will be far less thisty and kinder to the environment, but we’ll need to wait for Jaguar’s official numbers before we cast judgement.
The V8 lump that powers the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster is slightly more frugal than the supercharged Jag’s, achieving 20.5mpg, though it’s dirty, spewing carbon dioxide at a rate of 321g/km. If running costs are a major concern, then the only choice in this group is the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. Its straight-six engine somehow manages to return an amazing 30.7mpg on the combined cycle while emitting just 217g/km. Even the angrier Carrera S is more efficient than its rivals. Ultimately this is a car will save you more than £200 every year on road tax and another absolute fortune on running costs.
Economy & environment winner: Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet.
The Aston is, in most cases, the most expensive car in this group. The cheapest Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster will set you back £96,274. The version with the Sportshift automatic transmission goes for £101,273. The flagship V8 Vantage S is pricier still – Aston Martin charging a further £10,000 for a tiny boost in horsepower and torque. It may be increasingly common on city streets but the people riding around in them have deep pockets.
The cheapest Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet can be bought for a fairly reasonable £79,947. The slightly faster Carrera S Cabriolet, meanwhile, goes for £89,740, which is still cheaper than the lowliest Aston. You could bag yourself a four-wheel-drive Carrera 4 S, which offers superior grip and traction, and still have change left over for a small family hatchback for the cash needed to buy an Vantage.
The Jaguar puts both its rivals to shame where price is concerned. The entry-level car, which isn’t exactly slow, let’s remember, costs a mere £58,500 – £20,000 less than its nearest rival. The mid-range F-Type S goes for £67,500 and the top cat F-Type V8 S retails for just under £80,000, the same price as an entry-level 911 Carrera. And it’s faster.
Winner: Jaguar F-Type.
All three cars are closely matched in terms of the performance they offer, the respect they command and the thrills they deliver on the road. Those who value aesthetics above all else will find the Aston Martin is still king of the hill. The Jaguar F-Type isn’t far behind, but the Porsche loses out in this area due to how common — and comparatively ugly — it happens to be.
The Jag newcomer manages to steal a march on the 911 Carrera and V8 Vantage in the performance stakes – in V8 S guise, at least. The Vantage S and 911 Carrera S both have a minute top speed advantage, but there should be no arguing with the Jag’s power output – you’ll be long gone before the Aston and 911 eventually reach their terminal velocities.
Most crucially of all, the Jag is considerably cheaper than its rivals. For 911 money, you could buy an entry-level F-Type and still have £20,000 to fuel and insure the thing for a year, although it’s worth noting the fact the 911 is incredibly thrifty and may work out cheaper in the long run. All things considered, we think the F-Type offers the better overall package. Obviously we’ll have to wait until we have the pleasure of driving one before we can give you our definitive verdict but on paper it could be the best drop top sports car money can buy.
Winner: Jaguar F-Type