Sporty cars with entertaining dynamics and powerful engines are like warm rays of sunshine after an ice storm or a fresh refill of your Zoloft prescription (pick one). With sexy design and immense performance capabilities they’re practically guaranteed to make you giggle like a toddler pouring milk down a heat register.
The theme of this of this week’s episode of Ask AutoGuide is Axis and Allies, though we’re not referring to the convoluted Milton Bradley board game of the same name. No, three thoroughbred sports machines are facing off in a war of dominance; they fight for their respective nations and the pride of their makers, to say nothing of bragging rights. Their battlefield is the open road and victories get reported on monthly sales charts.
With a budget of about $65,000 to squander spend we’re comparing three very capable machines, each one from a different country. Representing the good old US of A is Chevrolet’s all-new Corvette Stingray, a two-door ambassador of American attitude.
Our Anglo option naturally hails from jolly old England. The Jaguar F-Type is steeped in tradition like a piping-hot cup of Earl Grey tea. Assembled at the company’s Castle Bromwich plant this not-so-big cat shares a home with the legendary Supermarine Spitfire, the fighter aircraft that was a cornerstone of Britain’s Royal Air Force throughout the Second World War.
Lastly, Porsche’s engaging Cayman represents the might of Germany’s world-class automotive capability. Disregarding the typical front-engine, rear-wheel-drive configuration engineers mounted this car’s powerplant in the back where it still powers the aft wheels. Does this unusual configuration have the capability to repulse a combined Anglo-American assault? Will wasteful infighting between Chevy and Jaguar reduce their effectiveness? Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?
Suggestion #1 – 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 3LT Z51
No longer just a midlife-crisis car tailor made for balding and bulging 50-something men, the 2014 Corvette is more fun than should be allowed. For the sake of this comparison we’ve opted for the range-topping 3LT model with the available Z51 Performance Package.
Skipping all options with one exception, this beauty can be had for $64,150, including $995 in freight fees. The only extra we decided to spring for is the $1,350 paddle-shifted six-speed automatic transmission. Sure, the standard seven-cog manual gearbox is amazing but most buyers will probably opt for the self-shifter so that’s what we went for. Don’t like it? Too bad.Under its shark-like prow the 2014 Corvette Stingray is motivated by a 6.2-liter small-block V8. With advanced features like direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation this overhead-valve engine cranks out 455 HP (460 with performance exhaust) with 460 LB-FT of torque, and keep in mind, these numbers are SAE certified.
As for features, 3LT and Z51 gives you a number of highly desirable things. The car comes with a dry-sump oil system, an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, upgraded front brakes, unique suspension components and a special aerodynamic package.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Review
This finery comes in addition to the car’s long list of appealing standard amenities. All Corvettes feature an aluminum structure, an eight-inch touch screen infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, a Bose nine-speaker sound system, push-button start and an air filter built into the climate-control system.
Beyond all of these baubles the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette delivers a world-class driving experience. It’s as fast as a brain synapse and it can carve corners like artist Michelangelo attacking a block of marble with hammers and chisels. Oh, and if you don’t believe us it’s also the 2014 North American Car of the Year.
Additionally this car is surprisingly responsible. With the slushbox it’s expected to return 16 miles per gallon in city driving and up to 28 on the interstate. According to the EPA it averages 20 MPG.
Suggestion #2 – 2014 Jaguar F-Type Coupe
Jaguar’s entry into this competitive segment is the scorching-hot F-Type. This kitty doesn’t just like to scratch, she’ll eviscerate you with her claws like a lioness attacking a baby antelope. You’ve been warned.
Spearheading this British Expeditionary Force is the two-door version of the new F-Type, though a convertible is also available at extra cost. In entry-level trim it comes standard with a wide array of features including rain-sensing wipers, LED tail lights and a deployable rear spoiler. Moving inside, passengers are treated to sport seats, ambient interior lighting, a navigation system with an eight-inch display screen as well as Bluetooth. Aiding the driver is fuel-saving start/stop technology, a sport suspension and push-button start.
What does all this snarling goodness cost? Well, the bottom line is pretty close to Corvette’s price. The base F-Type stickers for $65,895 including $895 in destination fees; scones with clotted cream are extra-cost options.Roaring like a thousand piston-powered bomber aircraft five miles above their target, this Jaguar is hauled around by a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that delivers 340 HP and 332 LB-FT. Power is sent to the rear wheels exclusively through an eight-speed automatic transmission; a manual is not on the menu. Jaguar claims this car can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles an hour in 5.1 seconds.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Jaguar F-Type Review
On the consumption front the F-Type stickers at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the interstate. Combined it ought to average 23 MPG, which is considerably better than the Corvette.
If drivers find the standard car’s performance insufficient they can always opt for an S model, which turns up the V6’s wick, boosting output to 380 HP. Of course there’s another step up the ladder, the bonkers F-Type R. It features a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that packs a 550 HP wallop. Of course if you want to level up make sure to bring your cheque book because the S and R cars are bloody expensive.
Suggestion #3 – 2014 Porsche Cayman S
After strong performances from the American and British forces things aren’t looking good for beleaguered Germany, but they do have a secret weapon up their sleeve, a modern road-going Vergeltungswaffen with the power to bring its competitors to their knees… or rocker panels as the case may be.
Bringing the fight right to the front lines is Porsche’s spicy Cayman S. This is a benchmark sports car with performance, prestige and iconic design to make enthusiasts take notice and possibly push the Allies right into the English Channel.In classic Zuffenhausen fashion the Cayman S is powered by a rear-mounted horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine. With an aluminum block and heads it displaces all of 3.4-liters but the numbers it delivers are absolutely valiant. Horsepower clocks in at 325 while torque peaks at 273 LB-FT, impressive figures for a relatively small naturally aspirated engine. Direct fuel injection as well as variable valve timing and lift technology bolster output.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but to keep the playing field level we opted for the available Porsche Doppelkupplung automatic, PDK for short. This blisteringly fast twin-clutch gearbox will set you back a whopping $3,200, though it’s the only option we went for in this case.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Porsche Cayman S Review
Out the door the Cayman S ain’t cheap. It stickers at $67,995 including $995 in shipping and handling fees. Without question this Porsche is a pricey choice and it makes the Corvette seem like a bargain in comparison.
Still, that figure includes a number of appealing standard features, things like bi-xenon headlamps, sport seats, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel and four-piston monobloc calipers for heavy-duty stopping power.
Of course the company also offers a dizzying array of options and packages. When it comes to extras Porsche is more granular than the beaches of Normandy. You can choose between five unique wheel designs, there are four different seats on the menu with a wide array of color combinations and there are literally dozens and dozens of other options to choose from.
Unique attributes aside, there’s a lot to like about this trio of performance cars. Whether you opt for the brash Corvette, design-focused Jaguar or purposeful Porsche you really can’t make a bad choice. Each car offers a different approach to performance, though each one is compelling in its own way. Unfortunately that $65,000 just got a lot harder to spend.
If you need a little assistance shopping for your next vehicle feel free to do the same. Send a short message to ask@AutoGuide.com. Let us know the basics of what you’re looking for. How many seats do you need? What size of vehicle do you want? How much are you willing to spend? With some of those fundamentals out of the way we’ll get busy to come up with two or three must-see vehicles that you’ll have to put on your test-drive list.