B1 Intermediate UK 4090 Folder Collection
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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.
The structure is the stiffest.
It doesn't shimmy so much over bumps.
And therefore, it feels like the suspension has a better
chance of keeping the wheels on the road.
The steering column is better located.
So even though it's electric and a bit arcade game like,
this car can be placed more accurately than the others.
It also feels like you're better
connected to the road surface.
And it just gets better the harder you push.
The engine--
the engine has a real zip and a zing to it.
Take it out to 7,500 RPM, and you feel like you're in an
expensive, special sports car.
Which is interesting, because quite often, I feel the 911 is
a bit ordinary.
This cabin, it's quite generic Porsche, isn't it?
Nicely put together, nice materials.
Like the exterior, very nice, very pleasant.
But not that special.
I'm not sure the 911 is the eye candy anymore.
Now that the F-Type has come along, I think it's making a
few problems for Porsche.
This seven-speed manual gearbox is
really improving, though.
The first versions I drove a couple of years ago really
weren't very good.
I tend to treat it as a six speeder and just forget about
that seventh ratio.
But I'm quite enjoying using this manual one.
And again, as an open top car, there's a bit more of a
driving experience, I think it's important that you can
get a manual gearbox and that Porsche deserve to
be praised for that.
It's very fast.
It's agile.
You can get two kids in the back.
It's got more luggage space than the F-Type.
It's just a cleverer car than the F-Type.
But it's lacking several things that the Jaguar offers
in the specialness department.
Maybe if we go to a track, we can explore that
a little bit more.
[CAR ENGINE]
The Aston is the slowest of the three cars.
Just on power to weight ratio, you can really
feel it on the circuit.
And it's got quite long gearing.
But for what I think of as a very soft roadster, it's
really very good around [INAUDIBLE].
Now, you can be fooled into thinking that the Aston
understeers the most.
It doesn't.
It just doesn't have as much power as the others.
So to make it oversteer as I'm trying there requires a load
more throttle.
And you can't use the momentum as much as the others.
I know this is irrelevant for little roadsters.
But it's worth having a go, isn't it?
There you go, use the momentum.
And suddenly, it feels very rear driven.
And it's a very pleasant experience.
The steering's nice and tight.
As I said, on a bumpy circuit, this thing acquits itself
very, very well.
Braking's good.
The only thing with the Aston is there's a slight mismatch
between the control weights.
The steering's not too heavy.
The gear lever takes a right old shove, though.
The clutch is quite light, but the throttle's quite heavy.
You do get used to it, but it's just slightly odd.
Doesn't stop it being rather good fun when it's moving
around, though.
This is so irrelevant, isn't it?
But we need to tell you how these cars handle.
So I have to go to a circuit and skid them about.
It's only correct, you know.
Slow it down, and it's a long sort of straight through
[INAUDIBLE]
going at a fair old lick now.
Keep it pinned.
It's a lovely, neutral car, actually.
Again, on the circuit, just like on the road, it doesn't
feel as old as it should do.
And I really like the manual gearbox, more simple
interpretation of the genre.
[CAR ENGINE]
Yeah, this is a really good car.
The F-Type V8 S is loud, very fast, and when you cock about
with it, smoky.
[LAUGHS]
There's smoke everywhere coming in the cabin.
It's not subtle!
Oh my god, it's exciting.
We've got the suspension stiffened up now.
We're in a dynamic mode.
And unlike the others, even in fourth gear, too, you have to
watch the throttle just in case it starts to spool up.
This one has an electronic locking differential.
But it feels quite natural to me.
It's 10 miles an hour faster down the straight than the
little Aston.
It does feel a bit more remote.
The steering wheel's too big and too heavy.
But if you just look at the throttle--
look at that!
I could do that for days.
Now, wait for the smoke to come out of the cabin.
There it comes!
Why does it do that?
I don't care.
It's so exciting.
I don't know what car Jaguar set out to
make with the F-Type.
But I didn't expect it to be this raw.
This is not a Boxster rival in that it's not
delicate and neat.
It's a thug of a car.
And its character is really, really addictive.
Sensational fun, really sensational fun.
And if you drive it sensibly, it's a very balanced chassis.
It does have some understeer.
But that's almost immaterial in a car like this because
it's got so much torque.
There's the understeer.
Move on the throttle.
There's the oversteer.
They are centimeters of throttle apart.
You choose your angle in this car.
That's a big angle.
There's a complete mismatch at work with the 911 convertible.
When you see it on the road, you just think, ugh,
convertible 911.
It's a girl's car.
It must be rubbish and flabby and wobbly.
And then, you drive it.
And honestly, it feels possibly the most
aggressive car here.
The engine's razor-sharp.
It's got a manual gearbox.
And it is just fantastically direct.
Listen to that engine.
I don't doubt that around this circuit, it's the
fastest car, too.
I'm not timing them because it makes no difference to me.
But as a driving experience, certainly,
it's right up there.
I'll just try and describe it to you.
The engine, normally aspirated,
revving out to 7,500.
Sounds superb, really great down this straight, doing 130,
matching the Jaguar down there.
We'll take third coming into quarry.
Second, we have a pendulum, remember.
So we can just get the back of the car going and ride it all
the way out.
There are very few others cars that could do that.
And it's a fantastic feeling.
It also feels that little bit lighter than the others here.
You can take liberties, too.
It has that classic slight delay at front axle that you
get on a 911.
Once you get up it, you can neutralize the car and steer
it on the throttle.
Brakes, very good.
Really good brake pedal, as well.
But it's the engine that stands out, actually.
It's so zingy.
It wants to really crack on.
This is, for me, the most connected car here, as well.
From the steering, even though it's electric, to the chassis,
to the feel that's coming through my backside, this is
the one that feels the most sporting.
Strange, isn't it?
Because on the outside, it looks like it should be
cruising down The King's Road.
[CAR ENGINE]
And that's supposed to be the unmanly 911.
What's the GT3 going to be like?
The Aston Martin is the oldest car here.
It's the most expensive.
And it's the slowest.
So you won't be surprised to hear the objectively, it's
also the loser here.
But for many people, if you're looking for an attractive,
normally aspirated car with a manual gearbox, it might be
the best car here.
Because in this test, the loser happens to be an
extremely desirable machine.
It acquitted itself far better than I expected for
something that old.
This Jaguar, this is different to what I expected, too.
This is like a muscle car, a small, British muscle car, all
about torque and performance and just hanging onto it and
enjoying the ride.
It's not subtle.
It's not a Boxster rival.
It's brutal.
It's also quite expensive, which means it had to be
tested against the 911.
This car is 97,000 pounds.
And in many ways, it's not special enough.
But actually, if you delve deeply into the driving
experience, this is the best car here.
For me, the harder you push it, the better it gets.
And it's the most resolved.
It's the car that clearly has been developed
with the most cash.
But does that matter in the final reckoning?
For me, only one car here has that absolutely killer show
room appeal.
And it's the F-Type.
Oh, that's the smoke again.
How does it do that?
Why does smoke come out of the footwell when
you're doing skids?
Answer me that one.
I'm going to do another lap.
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Jaguar F-Type V8S v Aston V8 Vantage Roadster v 911S Convertible. - /CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS

4090 Folder Collection
Aston Jeremy published on June 18, 2014
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