You’ll Never Beat the Porsche 911

Doug DeMuro, March 2014

So I'm walking around cars and coffee the other day, minding my own business, taking in all the sights, checking out a row of Nissan 370Zs that look identical to one another except for the color and placement of their Stance Nation window decals, and that's when I see it: the Jaguar F-Type Coupe.

Of course, you already know about the Jaguar F-Type, unless you've been living in some bizarre alternate universe, free from any sort of advertising. That's because Jaguar has been marketing this car non-stop with all sorts of buzzwordy catch phrases, such as "#Fearless" and "#Good to be bad" and "#We swear that Jaguar is no longer just for old white men who haven't so much as giggled since the second Reagan inaugural ball."

Well, it seems there's now a coupe version. And I will now use my carefully honed journalistic skills to describe it for you in detail: basically, it looks a lot like the regular Jaguar F-Type wearing a hat.

Now, I studied this F-Type coupe very carefully at cars and coffee, and I came away highly impressed. The fit and finish was excellent. The styling was bold, aggressive, and – dare I say – fearless, especially if we're talking about little details like blind spots and headroom. The sound was wonderful. I couldn't start it of course; I wasn't allowed anywhere near it. But they let some attractive girl hop in and rev it up, and she seemed really enthralled. Oh, and the best part: there wasn't a single electrical malfunction anywhere to be found.

In other words: this is not your great-great-great grandfather's Jaguar, which he gave up only after a long battle with the rest of the family, who insisted he stop driving because he kept confusing the garbage disposal with the toilet. Instead, it's a pretty cool car.

Too bad nobody's going to buy it.

I base this opinion on a quick look at the F-Type Coupe's window sticker. The one at cars and coffee was an "R" model, which has a 550-horsepower V8 and a ridiculously loud exhaust that sounds like a group of angry hellspawn sent to take revenge on people trying to enjoy a quiet lunch at an outdoor café. It also starts at $100,000 with shipping.

Now, I admit that this is a little unfair, since this is the most expensive model in the lineup. So let's go down to a more normal F-Type Coupe, such as the 380-horsepower "S" model. This thing still starts at $78,000 with shipping, and if I know my luxury cars — and I think I do — that figure probably doesn't include must-have features like cooled seats, heated seats, any seats, circular wheels, etc.

Things aren't much better when you consider the F-Type convertible. In fact, they're worse: the F-Type S convertible starts at $82,000 with shipping, which is probably the most fearless thing about the entire car.

So what's the problem with all the pricing? The answer is simple: the Porsche 911.

I haven't checked out pricing for the Porsche 911 in a while, but I'd bet that the Jaguar is a little bit cheaper. I would also bet the Jag is more powerful. Of course, we know that the Jag is newer and cooler, and I suspect it has more standard equipment. The Jag is also probably faster, and it definitely sounds better. In other words: the F-Type is probably better than the Porsche 911 in every single objective measurement. But none of these things matter, because the Jag isn't a Porsche 911.

Here's what I mean: if you're the kind of person who's spending $82,000-plus on a new car, you're probably not some 25-year-old kid who's going to be impressed by the latest high-performance offering from Jaguar.

Instead, you're probably an old rich guy who's buying his dream car. You've been around the block a few times, had a few S-Classes, slept with a few secretaries. You remember when Jaguar replaced the E-Type with the XJS, beginning a slow death spiral that culminated when they debuted an all-wheel drive station wagon based on a midsize Ford. You have friends who lost money with Bernie Madoff.

If that describes you — and I imagine it describes most people interested in an $80,000 car they can't drive every day — then you don't want some flash-in-the-pan Jaguar. This is proven by the fact that all three F-Type trim levels occupythree of the top six slots in last month's list of the "slowest selling cars." Instead, you want a car that's been there as long as you can remember; a car you've dreamed about since you were a kid; a car that's timeless, unlike your second wife. You want the Porsche 911.

And if that describes you, you probably don't care about the numbers. You don't care that the Jag is a little cheaper, or that it's a little faster, or that it has a few more options. You only care that one of these cars is hot right now and will probably fade quickly from memory, while the other will age like a fine wine, getting more and more beautiful, and wonderful, and special, unless of course the intermediate shaft bearing explodes and Porsche refuses to cover the repair.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why no car will ever take down the Porsche 911 as the reigning sports car king. It's the same reason why the Corvette ZR1 and Nissan GT-R didn't put a dent in supercar sales, even though every single magazine on earth told us the 'Vette and the Nissan were faster, and handled better, and had more features, and cost less, and were generally the finest man-made creations since the moon lander. 

The reality is simple: when you get to that age where you can finally afford a highly expensive fun car, you tend to want the car you grew up dreaming about. No matter how #Fearless the competition claims to be.