By Zack Klapman.
What is exclusivity worth? What would you pay to stand out in a crowd, to be special?
This is probably the most important question when shopping for a sports car. You see, there really aren’t any bad cars today; a Chevy Spark has heated seats and Bluetooth. Likewise the “worst” sports car is faster than a supercar of 20 years ago. Unpredictable handling has been harnessed by engineers and traction systems. Lamborghinis have heaters and AC systems.
Everything hits 60 around 4 seconds, everything goes over 170MPH, everything turns and stops well. What separates sports cars now is the details, and the experience. The dividing factor for those is usually money.
Let’s look at the new C7 Corvette 2LT Z51. You can get a new Corvette for as little as $51,000, but our tester had the Z51 package (LSD, diff. and trans cooler, better brakes, bigger wheels and tires), as well as the removable roof, carbon fiber trim, NAV, and various aero bits. After all was said and done, I was sitting in a $69,000 Corvette.
That’s a lot of money, but the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette is no longer a track monster with an interior only an accountant could love. The design, materials, and finish inside are great. Smart details like the passenger’s climate controls being on the right side, a multi-surfaced door panel, and carbon fiber create an environment that is equal to the incredible performance this car possesses. Even the base seats are great, and no one has ever said that about Chevy’s sports car.
On the road, our car’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension muted bumps. 29MPG highway from the 7-speed manual means long-range cruising ability. Drop a gear, floor it, or swing through corners, and it hasn’t lost a step. 455HP, 460TQ, 60MPH in 3.8s, cornering so hard it will move the road over a few inches.
But…how many of these will you see on the road this year? A lot. A lot-lot. Chevy made the C6 Corvette for 7 years, and a lot of them. No one ever said, “Wow! A Corvette! I’ve never seen on before!” They are as common as they are great.
That’s where the 2014 Jaguar F-Type has a chance. Now, $69,000 will only get you a base F-Type, powered by a 340HP V6, and you will never catch the Stingray, don’t even try. Our F-Type tester, with the 495HP supercharged V8 and lots of options, cost $104,000; Cross-shopping with Vettes probably won’t be too common at that price point.
But at $70,000, the F-Type offers rarity, and badge cache. The Vette’s curb appeal will depreciate as sales numbers reach 18 digits, but the Jag’s so good looking, I wager it will hardly dip. 10 years from now it will still make heads turn, like the BMW Z8.
The F won’t be slow; 340HP through 8 speeds should be quick, technically, but it won’t be able to touch the Stingray on a track, and its tiny trunk loses the practicality challenge. I think I prefer the Chevy’s interior too. Still, it’s just so pretty.
While all sports cars are “fast”, mission now separates them. The Chevrolet Corvette has always been a durable speed machine with the ace of practicality up its sleeve, and that hasn’t changed. Track-ready, 29MPG, a big trunk, and 455HP? Incredible skill set. The Jag has none of those, but it will turn heads, even those of people passing in a C7.
If I was less interested in racetracks and canyon blasts, or if this was my second or third car, I would ignore the C7’s strong and diverse skill set and consider the Jaguar. But I’m not.