Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles What cars do you test the new Jaguar F-Type against? The great debate seems to center around whether it's a Boxster or a 911 rival. Luckily for us, this is the V8 S model, which as tested here is 91,695 pounds. So that fixes one problem-- it's a 911 rival. Or is it? It only has two seats. And it's way more powerful. It's also much more aggressive looking, perhaps more of an occasional car than a 911. In fact, its closest rival on paper is the Aston Martin V8 Volante. The Aston is less powerful, but offers similar packaging and a heap of beauty. So that's how we came to bring a Jaguar, a Porsche, and a slightly older Aston Martin together. The Jaguar's numbers are emphatic. The supercharged V8 has 495 horsepower. But somehow, the aluminum structure weighs 1,665 kilograms. I know. I don't understand, either. The V8 S gets an active electronic rear diff and 380 millimeter front disks. It also has 460 foot-pounds of torque, and that genius eight-speed automatic ZF gearbox. When I first saw the F-Type pricing, I thought they'd gone mad. But digest that little lot, the price doesn't look too bad at all. The Aston is an old car now. But it's still so pretty. It only has 420 horsepower and 346 foot-pounds of torque. And it's another chubby aluminum chappy at 1,710 kilograms. Is British aluminum just lead in disguise? Still, you get a lovely proper six-speed manual gearbox here, and possibly the best badge of the lot. German aluminum must be lighter. The 911 is the only car here with four-ish seats, and yet it weighs just 1,465 kilograms. Its 400 horsepower is way down on the Jag, but its power to weight ratio is kind of up there, as is the price, a crazy 97,816 pounds for this car. I'm not a fan of the strange seven-speed manual in the 911. This car has one. Let's hope it doesn't spoil things. Oh, and the test car has the normal steering and the standard S chassis. So which is better to drive on road, on track, or perhaps more importantly for cars of this type, to be seen in? I think we need to stop getting too caught up in this Jaguar F-Type hype and remember that if you wanted a very cute, quite compact, two-door, British-built roadster, there's been one available for the best part of six years. And it's called the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster. No one else seems to care about it. Everyone seems to be obsessed with comparing this car to Porsches. I thought we'd get a V8 Vantage out and try to remind ourselves why it's a rather lovely little car. This car does have quite a bit in common with the Jaguar. It, too, has a kind of bolted, welded-cum-glued aluminum structure. And yet, despite being aluminum, it's quite heavy. It's 1,690 kilograms. Electric top, quite compact, two-seat cabin with no space behind the seats, quite a long bonnet, quite a stumpy bum. Yeah, it takes less space up on the road than the Jaguar, though. And I have to say, despite not being the new kid on the block, it still does some things that can really teach the Porsche and the Jaguar a few lessons. To start with, we have hydraulic power steering. I've got a lovely manual gear change with three pedals. That's a novel thing, isn't it? People should try that, this manual gearbox thing. It's really rather pleasant. It's normally aspirated, and it makes this noise. [CAR ENGINE] Which, it has to be said, is a rather lovely noise. And I suspect over time, Aston Martin has really learned how to set spring and damper rates against the inevitable lack of stiffness in the chassis because there's no roof. I'm not saying it's not actually very good, because it is quite good. But the car just seems to ride rather nicely. And it's well damped for UK roads. I was expected to represent this car as a bit of a dinosaur. And do you know what? I've had a lovely two days in it. I think it looked beautiful from the outside, too. And that has to be counted. It's not normally something I care about. But in this test, looks really count. This car feels its age inside, though. You've got these rather horrendous Vanquish-era air vents, which I think are probably a Ford or a Volvo product. The ergonomics are all over the place. It doesn't matter too much because some of it looks quite funky. But the dials that move backwards and the fact that when there's any sun in this cabin, you cannot see any of the services whatsoever is a pain in the back side. And the main control button you use for all your computer stuff is hidden behind the gear lever. So yes, it does feel old. It is getting old. But it's a very charming car. Trouble is, it's the most expensive car in the test. But flip side, it's got an Aston Martin badge on it. And I still think that probably carries more kudos certainly than a Jaguar badge and maybe even a Porsche badge. As I drive this car on the road, I'm getting a bit more buffeted in here than I got in the Jag and certainly the 911 with its wind deflector up. And I have to say, it is a sort of 8 and 1/2 10ths car. If you drive it up to 8 and 1/2 10ths, it's very good. The steering response is especially pleasant if you put the car accurately on the road. And it's enjoyable. You don't really feel any creak in its inner structure. Push a bit beyond that, which I know is a bit ridiculous because it means you're traveling at silly speeds, and you start to feel it slip a bit behind the Jag, and especially the Porsche. It just can't match the Porsche's feeling of almost being a coupe that happens to have a very large sunroof. But I'm impressed. I thought this would feel much, much older. And it doesn't. We all know the dangers of something being overhyped, like the big night out organized with your mates months in advance. When you do it, it's never quite as good as those impromptu ones, is it? Well, the F-Type is the worst kept secret of 2013. But on the road, it's a damn fine thing. This is what's good about the F-Type as a V8 S with 495 horsepower. Well, it's got 495 horsepower, and it's not very big. It's a muscle car. It's naffing fast. Jaguar claims 0 to 100 miles an hour in under nine seconds, and it's entirely believable. I love the way it looks. I love the image it presents. I love the fact that it can chop between being a sort of leave it in drive, very, very fast GT cruiser, but when you snap it into manual, this ZF gearbox, such good manual shifts, you really have something quite sharp. I love the fact that it's not too stiffly sprung, and that it's well damped. And it rides really very well over UK roads. I love the fact the structure's really very stiff. And the steering column remains resolutely in place, far better than in the XK. I like the cabin on the whole. It's a little bit trying too hard in places. But it works well. And it's got some lovely special touches. Listen to that noise. I mean, that's ridiculous. [CAR ENGINE] The noise? Well, the noise will be for some people an utter celebration of everything that's right about a sports car. For other people, they'll hate it. It's too ostentatious and too loud. There's a button here. You can turn the exhaust down. But even then, it's still pretty raucous. Let's break it down then into steering, chassis, engine, brakes, that kind of thing. Steering, really very little feel whatsoever. But we're used to that with modern cars. My problem is not with the steering apparatus itself, which is fine, not brilliant. A Boxster steers better than this car. Anyone that says it doesn't is lying if you ask me. It's the steering wheel itself. This larger steering wheel and paddle set up is taken from the larger XJ Saloon. And it works fine there. But the center of the wheel's very low. And the paddles are sort of weird, rubberized finish, but painted gold. And their action is very un-special, for want of a better phrase. I just thought the Jaguar could have tried a bit harder, given how well the car actually shifts, to give us something a bit more special. To me, it feels a bit ordinary. And the steering hold really is so thick. It doesn't need to be this thick. I need to be a gorilla to get my hands around it. I know. Make the obvious jokes now. Ride and handling, very, very clever for UK roads. Difficult to fault at normal speed, I have to say. The biggest problem I have is how wide the car is. You see, it is a very wide car, the F-Type, perhaps wider than is strictly necessary. And on UK roads, I'm aware of it more than I want to be in what should be a Boxster rival. Even in a 911, I don't think about the width of the car the way I do this one. Brakes are pretty good. There's a general feeling of disconnection in the car, though. It's not really bad. But in both the Aston and the Porsche, I just feel like I'm more connected to the road than I am in this. You can take that either way. You can either say it gives this better GT credentials than the other two. Or perhaps there's something that's just slightly missing there. Not that it isn't exciting, though, the noise, the sheer speed of it, and the character of the car really shines through. Does it really need to weigh well over 1,650 kilograms, though? That's the bit that worries me. It's not a big car. And it's hundreds of kilograms more than even the 911. I found that really weird. And when I get in the car, and I start it up, and the exhaust makes that lovely, boomy burble, and then, these air vents rise up out of the dashboard, it does make you think, those were electric motors doing that. Why does that need to happen? Is that necessary in a sports car? Has Jaguar got its priorities slightly wrong? I'm not sure. It's given us a car that's so much more than a slightly cut down XK on the road, though. This is, for UK roads, a very, very clever car, lovely indeed. [CAR ENGINE] How on Earth does Porsche make a hybrid construction, ie, steel and aluminum car, that's lighter than both of the all-aluminum British cars? I don't know. But this car is under 1,500 kilograms. And it's quite a big thing. And it's got four seats. That's alchemy, isn't it? [CAR ENGINE] On the road, the 911, I'm afraid to say it, shines. It really does.