By Zack Klapman.
Ron Howard’s RUSH is debuting in theaters, telling the story of a rivalry between Niki Lauda, a driver who calculated risk like an insurance claims adjuster, and raced according to that risk, and James Hunt, who partied and plowed his way through the racing circuit, without caring what “risk” meant. A battle of two very different personalities that both rose to the top.
I consider the Jaguar F-Type V8S and the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S the Hunt and Lauda of 2-door sports cars; the F-Type being the (very) loud and sexy playboy, the 911 the calculating professor.
F-Type stands for “A (expletive)-ing riot!”
Jaguar’s incredibly sexy new roadster is Angelina Jolie in “Salt”, curvy perfection to for the eyes, the sound of Glock .45s erupting next to your head. Opt for the supercharged 5.0-liter V8, add the $3,000 Performance Pack, open the selectable exhaust, and be prepared to re-attach the rafters on your garage. This is the loudest car I have tested to date, or at least it seems that way with the top down. Let off the throttle and it’s Fourth of July. Press it and there’s a pack of AMG Mercedes chasing you. It could make an alligator smile.
And look at it. Wow, right? That’s what you’re paying $92,000 (base) for, or $104,000 for our tester. Listen and look and the price seems right. Feel 495HP push you to 60MPH in under 4 seconds, carve a turn over 1g, and that window sticker makes sense; just don’t stare at the interior too long, or you’ll wonder how plastic got so expensive. Maybe because of the bottled water craze? It’s kind of like the Pontiac Solstice in that way; the interior, though fine, can’t match the high bar upon which the rest of the car sits.
But then you blast through 8 gears, hear its music, and the laughter is endless, forgetting the trunk is the size of a laptop bag. You’ll never walk away without looking back at it. It is sex and violence and nothing stimulates humans more.
If the Jaguar is a gun-wielding Angelina, the Porsche is Olivia Munn from Newsroom: calculating, pretty, brilliant. It doesn’t make men walk into poles, but you can’t ignore how the 911 has evolved into something striking, and you respect it.
But like the confident fast-talking financial genius Olivia plays, the Porsche dropped me back at the track pits with my mouth agape. The turn-in is incredible. The shifts are so fast it makes the F’s 8-speed feel like a Rune Goldberg apparatus is between paddle and transmission. It’s down 95HP, and even more torque, but its only 1/10th behind to 60 and 2/10ths in the 1/4mile. I never thought a naturally aspirated flat six would push this hard.
1.05g on the skidpad quantifies the size of my eyeballs as I skated around Fontana Raceway. From the speed, to the steering feel, to the brakes, everything works in perfect, incredible harmony. It is the better performer here, and I expect it will uphold Porsche’s reputation for reliability and durability.
But, for $145,000, it should. That is the price of the Porsche 911 I tested, and it’s a very large one. Yes, it had the better brakes, seats, various stability softwares, and the Sport Chrono pack, but even bare-naked, the 4S pricing starts about where our F-Type finished. The good news is that it carries more people, more stuff, shifts faster, corners easier, is more reliable, and is much nicer inside.
Despite all that, call me James Hunt.