Driving purity is a drug worth chasing.
That euphoric feeling when operator and machine blur into one – when the world melts away and it’s only you and the road ahead. It’s not necessarily about going the fastest; it’s about getting the most enjoyment out of the experience.
It’s what Jaguar touted the F-Type would be when it first came out. Although it was an enjoyable car to drive, it was missing one key element – that two-foot, two-hand operation that only comes from a proper manual transmission. As good as the eight-speed automatic transmission was, it could never replicate the engagement, precision and enjoyment of rowing your own gears.
Six-Cylinder, Six-Speeds, Six Degrees of Fun
This has been addressed for 2016. Now available with either of the supercharged V6 engines is a six-speed manual transmission. Jaguar offers it on V6 models only, as the company deems these to be the more enthusiast-focused models. Lighter, better balanced and rear-wheel drive, I can’t argue with the brand’s logic.
But on the other side of Europe, another manufacturer has upped the ante for enthusiasts as well. This year marks the return of the Porsche Boxster Spyder. Essentially, the Spyder is a Boxster taken to extremes with increased power, reduced weight and enhanced style.
Gorgeous vs Gorgeous
Wearing a unique body kit, the most noticeable change to the Boxster in Spyder form are the two streamlined bulges that begin at the headrests and continue to the end of the trunk. Built to be a homage to the 1960s-era 718 Spyder, they’re crafted onto what is now a massive, full-length aluminum trunk. The top is also different, as the usual power top is ditched in favor of a thin, manually operated roof that saves 24 pounds. In all, it makes the Boxster Spyder look like a baby supercar with more than a few hints of Carrera GT baked in.
Measuring just more than two inches longer than the Boxster, the F-Type S looks great in its usual menacing way, ready to scare a swarm of crossovers off the road. Styling for the 2016 F-Type S remains more or less the same as it has since introduction, but when it looks this good, that really isn’t a bad thing.
Powered in Different Ways with Similar Results
Under the long, flowing hood of the F-Type S resides a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 making 380 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque. Normally, these specs would trounce the Porshce’s, but this isn’t any ordinary Boxster. The Spyder comes equipped with a 3.8-liter six-cylinder engine borrowed from the 911, buried mid-ship deep beneath the large rear deck. It produces a healthy 375 hp and 309 lb-ft. of torque.
Despite power and torque advantages, the F-Type doesn’t feel as fast in a straight line, which is backed up by the numbers. Jaguar pegs the F-Type S manual will hit 60 mph from a standstill in 5.3 seconds, while Porsche states the same feat can be accomplished in just 4.3 seconds. So what gives? Well, besides a more favorable weight distribution, the Boxster Spyder is much lighter. As equipped, the Boxster weighs a svelte 2,899 pounds compared to the F-Type S manual, which tips the scales at 3,492 lbs.
SEE ALSO: 2016 Jaguar F-Type Review
As should be expected when comparing supercharged and naturally aspirated engines, power delivery comes on quite differently. The F-Type has lots of low-end, around city power, but tails off at the high end. The Boxster has decent off-the-line power, but is a real monster when allowed to fully open up at the high rpms.
And with great power comes amazing sound. The F-Type features a guttural V6 note that alerts the world of its presence. It’s easily the louder of the two cars and something I never tire of. But as good as the Jaguar sounds, the Boxster Spyder has a mechanical symphony pouring out of the rear tailpipes that is also intoxicating. It’s the type of sound that needs to be exploited on a track, ripping through the gears running lap after lap.
|Vehicle||Jaguar F-Type S Manual||Advantage||Porsche Boxster Spyder|
|Engine||3.0 L Supercharged V6||-||3.8 L Flat-6|
|Horsepower||380 HP||F-Type||375 HP|
|Torque||339 lb-ft.||F-Type||309 lb-ft.|
|0-60 MPH||5.3 seconds||Boxster||4.3 seconds|
|Top Speed||171 mph||Boxster||180 mph|
|Weight||3,492 lbs.||Boxster||2,899 lbs.|
|Fuel Economy (US)||15 MPG city, 24 MPG hwy||Boxster||18 MPG city, 24 MPG hwy|
|Fuel Economy (CDN)||N/A||-||13.1 L/100 km city, 9.9 L/100 km hwy|
|Observed Fuel Economy||15.7 MPG||-||15.9 MPG|
|As Tested Price(US)||$94,955||Boxster||$87,695|
|As Tested Price(CDN)||$106,025||Boxster||$100,055|
The standard six-speed manual in the Spyder can be driven one of two ways. Purists can leave it in the default setting and practice their heel-toe shifting all day long, or drivers can select the sport plus setting and benefit from automatic rev-matching downshifts. Porsche makes the best rev-match system in the industry, leaving manual throttle-blip downshifts obsolete for all but the most hardcore of idealists. It not only makes the car easier to drive, but the sound it makes when downshifting is addictive.
Although this may be Jaguar’s first crack at a manual sports car in quite some time, the company has done well. The F-Type S is really easy to heel-toe and clutch engagement is light. Gear engagement may not be as precise as the Boxster’s, as it feels a bit rubbery by comparison, but the F-Type’s transmission as a whole is bloody good. For a first attempt, it’s fantastic; the problem is that the Porsche’s is just that much better.
With significantly less weight to carry around, the Porsche can get away with smaller tires and brakes compared to the F-Type. The Spyder sits 20 mm lower than regular Boxsters and the steering is ridiculously direct, offering copious amounts of feel and response.
SEE ALSO: 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder Review
Steering in the F-Type S isn’t as direct and engaging, but still predictable. Although the wider rubber helps deliver similar levels of grip in the corners, the F-Type’s weight can be felt in all circumstances. Driving the F-Type in isolation is a ton of fun, but drive it back-to-back with the Boxster Spyder, and a subtle delay in most of the Jaguar’s actions can be felt. The F-Type does offer a slightly softer ride, which reflects its less hardcore nature compared to the Boxster Spyder.
Luxury vs the Basics
To keep weight in check, Porsche has gone to extremes. As equipped, the Boxster doesn’t have conventional door handles, just pull straps. Air conditioning and a radio are not included standard, never mind luxuries like heated seats, navigation or a power-adjustable steering wheel. A radio can be added free of charge and most other items can be added back for a price, but that just adds more weight and takes away from the rawness of the Spyder. The lightweight top does nothing to keep noise outside either and, as mentioned, it’s manually operated, meaning you have to pull over and get out of the car to open or close it.
Without the same concerns regarding weight, the inside of the F-Type S is as luxuriously appointed as should be expected in a high-end sports car costing close to $100,000. Leather abounds throughout the interior and if it’s adjustable, chances are it’s power operated. The trunk on the F-Type is also larger than the front and rear cargo holds of the Boxster Spyder.
The Verdict: 2016 Jaguar F-Type vs 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder
The 2016 Jaguar F-Type S is a fun car to drive, but it’s more for the enthusiast who’s not ready to jump in with both feet. It’s for someone who wants performance, but isn’t ready for a dedicated, hardcore weekend toy. It really is a great roadster and the manual option only makes it better.
But the Boxster Spyder is just something special. Everything it does feels more mechanical, more animalistic. It encourages my impulsive nature to forget about the consequences, put the hammer down and drive for the hills. It’s one of those cars that only come around every couple of years, forcing you to sit up and take notice. It reaffirms what the joy of driving is all about and how a properly engaging car should feel.
2016 Jaguar F-Type S Manual
2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder