Comparison Test: 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS vs 2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD

The end is nigh, the end is nigh!

I’ll give away the ending right here: the Jag wins.

It wasn’t an easy win, nor was it unanimous between the various voices in my head. But nevertheless, at the end of the day, we agreed that as tested, this fetching Jaguar (did I say fetching? Well, that’s very British of me but doesn’t do this little sex-kitten justice.) just manages to pull ahead of the Teutonic titan by a nose.

It was a back-and-forth affair, each showing superiority and unique strengths and wildly differing characters, but when it came right down to it, I had to give the nod to the F-Type R AWD based on one overwhelming quality: speed. The Jag has it, the Porsche has a lot less of it. Okay, maybe not a lot less, but it sure feels that way.

Who needs coffee when you have the amazing sneaky-slippery cat!?!?!

Here now is the curiosity: the Porsche power delivery is superior in the real world, and its much more balanced AWD distribution was on full lockdown, and I imagine even moreso when the road gets even a smidge slippery in rain, cold or snow. It’s really far more usable pretty much everywhere. Never setting a foot wrong and never getting squirrely. And that, right there, is the problem. Sure it’s great if you just want to get where you’re going, but where’s the excitement, where’s the thrill?

Doesn’t everyone want to be a little exhaust barking, tire-chirping sideways-skittering at the merest feathering of throttle when turning onto a busy thoroughfare first thing in the morning? Who needs coffee when you have the amazing sneaky-slippery cat!?!?!

However seeing as we need to give you your money’s worth, let’s pore over their curves and characters to see why we pegged something other than a Porsche to win.

Looks

Yeah, we know Porsche fans and conservatives everywhere will affirm that the 911’s design stands the test of time, its curvaceous everything hugging the ground and big black wheels just bulging out of the white profile in a seeming homage to a Star Wars stormtrooper livery. They’re right. The shape is streamlined, sleekly modern and functional rather than fussy.

The Jaguar’s more upright grille, creased flanks and jaw-dropping rear haunches seem to exude their own special brand of pheromones that works on just about every car lover we see, and that’s before it even purrs a single snarling note. Is there a better looking car on the market these days? If there is, it’s surely a matter of preference, and not many would fault you for voting for this British bombshell.

Inside, however, neither is necessarily a market leader in design or functionality, both of them rendered in blacks and greys with some silvery accents, but the Jaguar’s large expanse of dash in front of the passenger left me feeling colder than even the almost monochromatic 911. Even if it costs a ridiculous $4,400, the 911 leather/alcantara interior option is a feast for the fingertips, and the smattering of Carmine red stitching on the seats, seatbelt edging and embroidered GTS script on the headrest add just a pop of colour to liven up the interior along with the well placed metal trim on the console and authentic carbon-fibre along the dash and console. It’s almost enough to make you forget the multitude of buttons climbing all the way up the centre console and stack. Oh, and the steering wheel is visually, ergonomically and texturally perfect, wrapped in grippy alcantara with red stitching around metal spokes and large metal paddle shifters behind.

The F-Type R’s interior is nice, with no shortage of stitched leather and alcantara as part of the top trim’s price, and a lovely centre stack with three large dials for temperature control and some small buttons lining the touchscreen and below the chunky shifter. However, poke around, and the preponderance of plastic and quality and fit that just aren’t up to the Porsche’s precision and feel, especially the steering wheel and the less substantial paddle shifters. The lack of carbon-fibre trim is entirely forgivable, as Jaguar have put all the carbon-fibre into the roof, which is made entirely of the light stuff.

As far as functionality goes, Jeff weighs in: “As painstakingly as Porsche's engineers have evolved every detail of the 911 over time, it's still ergonomically no better than the Jaguar (which has plenty of its own interior faults).” Porsche uses buttons like they’re going out of style, but over time, they become second nature, while the Jag’s touchscreen will always require perhaps one too many layer of menus than I would like.

While at first glance, the F-Type is dominant in the looks department, there is no planet or universe in which I would be unhappy with a 911, and the refined interior and divine steering wheel are enough for it to claim this category.

Performance

On paper, this one isn’t even close, the F-Type an overwhelming powerhouse with 550 hp at 6,300 rpm and 502 lb-ft on tap from 2,500–5,500 rpm from its supercharged 5.0L V8. The Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS is no slouch at 430 hp at a heavenly 7,500 rpm from its naturally aspirated 3.8L flat-six, but torque is even further off the pace at 324.5 lb-ft at 5,750 rpm.

The Jaguar tips the scales at 1,730 kg with standard AWD and 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. In the other corner, with the optional PDK and AWD, the Carrera 4 GTS weighs in at 1,490 kg, significantly lighter, but you might not think that 240 kg would offset the 120 hp and 178 lb-ft advantage of the Jag. But you’d be wrong. At least I was until I looked up the specs.

Jaguar lists the F-Type R’s acceleration at 4.1 seconds to 100 km/h, while Porsche modestly claims 4.0. Car & Driver pegged the Jag at 3.4 and the 911 GTS rear-driver at 3.6 to 60 mph, so you have to figure that in all-wheel drive the Porsche still holds a slim advantage, or at the very least matches the fiercest Jaguar. If nothing else, it’s a moral victory for Porsche’s power delivery and AWD system, clearly making the most of its lesser power (and weight).

The reason we found it so surprising is that the Jag feels absolutely omnipotent, ripping away from stoplights with howls of delight from the exhaust and squeals of protest from the rear tires despite being all-wheel drive. If I hadn’t known it was all-wheel drive, I never would have guessed, as it delivers rear-wheel drive feel and balance throughout the driving experience – a commendable and enjoyable trait in our books.

However, there is no denying that it is traction challenged even in the mild, dry weather of our comparison day, and many of those horses, pounds and feet go up in smoke as the F-Type Coupe scrabbles for traction, its driver likely cackling maniacally throughout, gleefully ignoring the stolid white 911 marching alongside in lockstep wondering what all the fuss and furour are about. Jeff agrees: “I expected the now-AWD F-Type to have lost a lot of its RWD hooliganism, but wow, I have NEVER driven an AWD car that is as tail-happy as this thing.  And yet, the more I drove the Jaguar, the more it seemed like the car that would put a Cheshire Cat grin on my mug every time I drove it thanks to its gorgeous styling, spine-tingling soundtrack and, frankly, over-the-top power.  The 911 can never be provoked into on-road silliness.  It's solid, planted and surgically precise in its handling.”

If the Porsche can be faulted for anything, it is that it simply had too much grip, pulling away as the power and torque build gradually, the subtle exhaust growl giving way to the signature metallic keening of its frantic flat-six as you approach the 7,600 redline, 1,000 rpm later than the Jag’s supercharged V8. Once launched in a deceptively quick and stable shot, the Carrera 4 GTS never yields an inch on dry, public roads, and is absolutely locked down under braking, the RWD 911 GTS demonstrating up to 1.06 g of grip on the Car & Driver skidpad to the F-Type’s 1.00.

All tallied up in the performance departments, the F-Type is all smoke and more smoke and a heckuva good time, while the 911 simply goes and turns and stops with unparalleled capability and precision.

Feel

In order to balance out the surgical precision of the Porsche in the performance category, we have to devote a whole section to how these cars feel on the road and how they make us feel in the driver’s seat.

One thing is for sure: Jaguar has gotten it’s advertising right. Whether you think it’s good to be bad or there’s a part of you that’s always wanted to play the villain, driving the F-Type R makes it easy to get into the characters Jaguar has roped into its latest commercials. From the naughty, dirty, filthy exhaust noises coming out of the engine bay and exhaust, to the unhinged dynamics that will have you contemplating crashing world financial markets or beginning the next world war, the F-Type R transports you to another dimension, lending its personality to your otherwise mundane commute or weekend getaway. While the Jaguar is hard to control, it is a challenge that some will relish – your control of your right foot would be the order of the day for any track excursions, rather than proof of your chosen brand’s engineering mastery of physics and traction.

In its own right, the Jaguar steering would be a beautiful thing, light, deft and quick, with plenty of communication back from the front wheels. However, driven back to back with the 911 reveals that there is some notchiness, or perhaps a stickiness, to the steering that is absent from the GTS’s absolutely liquid-smooth steering and abundance of feel and control. Remember that scene in Goldfinger, when Goldfinger Says, “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die…”? Well, if the 911 were the villain, he would say nothing, and the Bond franchise would have ended right there, because he simply would have killed Bond and walked away.

The pricey 18-way Adaptive Sport Seats Plus ($3,460) in the Porsche are superb for adjustability, support and comfort, though the Jag’s are equally competent. The GTS is something of a compromise trim – it’s no GT3, so there is a fair bit of attention paid to a comfortable ride, and it could even be termed comfortable over mild road irregularities. The two-stage adaptive dampers are never less than firm, but they absorb the first impact capably in everyday mode, which is ramped up to a sharp crack in sport mode, where you will want the chassis for optimal cornering attitude. Where the F-Type is skittish and bucks around quite easily, the 911 manages to yield just enough to keep all four corners in contact and ready for power delivery or holding on for dear life.

With its well-judged throttle, which seems tame next to the F-Type, the GTS feels simply masterful everywhere and all the time, while the F-Type is entertaining and wild and somewhat stressful if you’re not operating on a closed course.

Practicality

Bwahahahahahahahhahh. Sorry, you must have clicked on the wrong link, bud….

Okay, I’ll cover it in a paragraph: they both are rather painful to get in and out of, but once in place, they are an excellent place to spend time. Each is otherwise tolerable for mundane tasks like playing music and navigation, superb at their intended function leaning towards the sporty end of the spectrum while still retaining some Grand Tourer grace and comfort. The Jag has better cupholders and a hatchback, but a paltry amount of cargo space; the 911 is little better, with a differently awkward cargo space in its ‘frunk’. Then again, you would get to regularly use the term ‘frunk’. The 911 has rather silly rear seats, but you can actually pack kids back there and even install child seats if the spirit moves you, so that’s a win by default to the 911.

Value

In order for this to be relevant, we have to assume that one who has the means to spend well beyond one hundred grand (or its equivalent leasing payments on a monthly basis) judges cars against each other based on any cerebral considerations. Frankly, I find that a hard leap to take, but let’s at least state the obvious. At face value, the Jaguar is better value, $138,675, and that’s with the optional carbon-ceramic brakes and carbon-fibre roof and other extra perks, never mind that overwhelming 550 hp. Some might argue the Porsche’s better resale value or reliability, but that’s a crap shoot at best.

Jeff Wilson mulled over what he might do with his hard-earned money as a big-shot TV Producer, so I’ll let him run with it:

If you're going to spend around $150,000 for a toy, maybe you'd want something even more visceral, and arguably, even sexier.  That sum can net some very interesting machinery in the pre-owned market.  A quick look on autoTRADER.ca netted these choices that would guarantee front-placement at any valet station:

2012 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Coupe - $148,888

If there's one car that's even better looking (and more exclusive) than the F-Type, it's Aston Martin's Vantage coupe.  This one is particularly special given that it also features a proper manual transmission. Oh, and did we mention it has a V12?

1987 Porsche 911 Turbo - $135,000

Since 1999, when Porsche declared all 911s shall henceforth be liquid cooled, P-car purists have been up in arms.  Here is a stunning Guards Red example of the pinnacle of 911s from the 1980s – a 911 Turbo (930).  No real Porsche fan would pass up this legend on wheels. 

2005 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti - $139,000  

There aren't a lot of top-shelf Ferraris for sale in Canada that cost less than $150,000, but finding one with a V12 is even harder.  The Montreal Rolls-Royce dealership has this 612 Scaglietti for sale in proper red-over-tan.  As a happy bonus, the tiny rear seat means you can bring short and legless friends or a small cat along with you. 

2008 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder - $160,000

If you're looking to show off with your weekend car, it's tough to beat a brightly coloured Lambo... unless it's a brightly coloured convertible Lambo!  This seven-year-old Gallardo Spyder has only 6,000 km on it.  And while a six-speed manual would be preferred, this one will still grab a lot of eyes, and revving that V10 out to redline is still going to send tingles down your spine.

Conclusion

Wait, did Porsche kinda’ win every category? Well, then I’m changing my vote. At least until the next time I hear the Jag V8 ripping and snorting away from a light. There is no room for reason in one’s brain while you listen to that exhaust note.

To sum it up, the Porsche delivers composure and control like no other with smooth and superb steering, grip for days – the entire year, in fact – quality, refinement and even decent outward visibility that make this a reasonable car all day every day. The Jaguar is the wild child we dream about, its power unadulterated by petty concerns like traction or generating forward progress, every moment exciting, with sounds and sensations to make every drive an event, though it’s hard to imagine living like this, driving like this all the time.

Before I leave you with my parting verdict, I’ll let Jeff weigh in again: “There's never been a comparison test that I've had such difficulty picking a favourite.  The Porsche is the car I've always desired, and truth be told, it is the better car.  It feels better engineered and like a more precise instrument but it's the Jaguar that simply appeals more based on pure, raw lust.”

Like Jeff, I grew up idolizing and idealizing Porsches, and from the first time I drove a 911, it lived up to the dreams of the precision and sensory fulfillment. During my week with the Carrera 4 GTS, I had a hard time coming around on its engagement factor – it was quieter, heavier, felt slower and less connected and was generally less rewarding than the manual-transmission Boxster Spyder with which I’d had a weekend fling immediately before getting in behind the wheel of this 911.  While I can’t purge my memory of that experience (nor would I ever want to), it is the fact that the 911 couldn’t quite match its little sibling for Porsche-ness that most disappointed, but between the F-Type R and the 911 GTS, it is the Porsche in which I felt most at home behind the wheel, that speaks to me and my tastes best, and it is only upon reflection and contemplation that I realize it wins my vote and this comparison.

But damn, does that Jag ever look and sound good!

2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Warranty:
4 years/80,000 km; 4 years/80,000 km powertrain; 12 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/80,000 km roadside assistance
2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD Warranty:
4 years/80,000 km; 4 years/80,000 km powertrain; 6 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/80,000 km roadside assistance
The end is nigh, the end is nigh! I’ll give away the ending right here: the Jag wins. It wasn’t an easy win, nor was it unanimous... 1/22/2016 5:41:37 PM
2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS 2015 Jaguar F-Type R AWD
Base Price $137,900 Base Price $117,500
Optional Equipment $24,855 (Black/GTS Carmine red leather/alcantara interior - $4,400; GTS communication package - $4,710; PDK - $5,530; ParkAssist, front and rear with reversing camera - $1,880; Power sunroof – $1,700, Vehicle key painted - $385; Adaptive Sport Seats Plus (18-way) – $3,460; Premium Package - $370; Bose Audio Package - $2,420) Optional Equipment $20,075 (Vision Package – $2,300; Exterior Sport Design & Black Package – $800; heated front windscreen – $350; Carbon Ceramic brakes and forged wheels – $13,000; Carbon-fibre roof – $3,600)
A/C Tax $100 A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,085 Destination Fee $1,375
Price as Tested $163,940 Price as Tested $138,675
Optional Equipment