By Zack Klapman.
Extroverted and exceptional: “Sports car” is a very vague descriptor. It lumps all the world’s offerings into one box, like putting both skis and a puppy in the same Lost & Found box. Though sports cars fit the criteria of 2 seats, RWD, and offer performance and driving pleasure, how they go about that is varied, as is which of those last two get the most focus. The two cars here –the 2013 Jaguar F-Type V8S and 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S– are perfect examples of the above.
2013 Jaguar F-Type V8S
This car is a Shelby Cobra with Bluetooth. Driving it goes like this: Fire up the 488HP/461TQ supercharged 5.0-liter V8. Put the top down (it looks better that way). Open the optional but 100% necessary Sport Exhaust (part of the $2950 Performance Package that includes sport seats, steering wheel, and Dynamic mode). Smile.
Blip gas, hearing a surprising number of pops and snaps as the engine comes down. Smile again. Pull the gold paddle, hit gas, do burnout (even with TCS on), laugh like you just won the lottery after playing hooky from a job you hate.
It’s as loud as it is beautiful. Captivating at a stand still, I stopped to admire it every time I was near it. It has no back seats. The trunk is the size of a purse. Though the performance and exterior feel like $100,000, some of the plastics inside don’t. The cabin has everything you want, but lacks a metallic refinement of, say, a finely made vintage sound system, like you find in an Aston, or Mercedes.
Luckily, none of that matters to the person who buys this car. It weighs about 4,000lbs, yet feels light in the hands, barging to 60MPH in 3.9 seconds. My days in this car were spent slowing down and speeding up, to the annoyance and hearing damage of everyone around me. You buy this car because it is sex after a rock show; ears ringing, heart beating, noisy.
2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S
Sex after a rock show is an exhilarating moment, a memory you carry to the gate of Alzheimer’s. But do you want it year after year? One-night stands get old. The 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S is a car you could marry. It takes about 30 seconds to feel like you’re interacting with another league of engineering.
Everything you touch feels crisp and solid. The layout inside isn’t the most artistic, but it is intuitive, and smart. Serious though went into every button, switch, and screen. It’s not sexy, but Porsches are about being the best, even if the competition is “Set the Sat NAV the fastest”. All the systems work well, and look good. Tasks like adjusting the temp or making a phone call are meant to be done quickly, so your hands can return to the wheel.
Speaking of the wheel, the steering in this car should absolve all concerns of electricity’s involvement in the act; it is excellent, both in terms of speed and feel. Which brings us to driving. It’s not as dramatic an experience as the Jag. The buttery 3.8-liter opposed 6-cylinder makes 400HP, and only 325ft-lbs of torque (136 less than the Jag), so don’t expect a bullying shove from behind.
Do expect seamless propulsion only pilots are familiar with, because when that power goes through the 911’s 7-speed PDK transmission, none of it is left behind. Every atom of thrust goes to the back tires with the urgency of lightning hitting the ground.
Acceleration falters zero as you move through the gears. Shifts happen instantly. With this car, I didn’t miss a manual transmission; blasphemy, I know. You might miss the movement, but when you are driving fast with the sole goal of reaching a destination –be it a corner or a city- as quickly as possible, the PDK is an asset. It’s like the first time a rifle was used against a sword. Brain cells formerly used for shifting can focus on the traction felt through the wheel, and the stability of Porsche’s various systems altering the traction, power, engine mount stiffness (yes, that’s real), and slip angle.
What does a jet engine cost? $140,000, unfortunately. The base 911 costs $102k, which means mine had $38,000 in options. The specific list of them is too long for the internet, but the essentials are: Sports Exhaust, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, Sport Chrono Package (which provides stiff engine mounts and the glorious Launch Control that propels this car to 60 in 3.9s), Sport Seats, and an upgraded stereo. A good symphony requires many talented musicians.
Those of you good with numbers are seeing a $40,000 premium for a car with almost 100 fewer horsepower, and that’s technically true. But what you have to think about is how long you want to own your sports car, and what it’s for. If it’s for a year of pure fun, and you have another car for…anything else, the Jag provides. However, if you want to own a car for many years, for thousands of miles, past the torrid night of a concert, the Porsche is the superior vehicle.