What do you do when two similarly high-powered but vastly different machines rock up at the office? Well, we could have done the expected (two separate road tests) but... then we didn't. As the days went by it became increasingly clear that there were some startling similarities between these two beasts that merited a head-to-head clash. So, we went all out. We drag raced them, then we track raced them and then we decided they needed some words written about them too. Here’s the result of a rather unlikely, but ultimately fascinating comparison. Read on!
A Coupe and a station wagon roll into a bar…
These cars are polar opposites when you stare at them with your practical spectacles on. One is big, long and good at carrying lots of things and people. The other is small, low and only carries two people and enough loading space for a change of Bremont wristwatch. Squint your eyes a little and get closer to the Audi, and you’ll notice flickers of its schizophrenic personality. It sits on 20-inch low-profile rubber, the wheel arches are bolstered in a way that gives it a wide and muscular stance like an on-guard Rottweiler. The splitter is made from carbon fibre that forces the front-end down as you pile on the speed. Two exhausts resembling cannons pierce either side of the rear diffuser as a warning sign not to get too close. Only now do you see the underlying psychopath that lives beneath the skin of the Audi shopping trolley.
The Jag on the other hand is explicit with its body. It also rides on 20 inchers, but they reach right up to the shoulder line. The front end swoops down to the nose where the vents on the side are designed to look like shark gills. They help usher air through to the brakes and cool them down. The side profile is compact as the coupe roofline leads into the motoring industry’s sexiest booty. It’s sleek, angry and harvests a pair of upward pointing double-barrel shotgun exhausts. Perfection.
The Four-Hundred Killer-Watt Club
The similarities start to appear as we head into the statistics. Both have a force-fed V8 shoved under the bonnet with over 400 kW to call upon. The Audi is slightly more powerful thanks to its new 4-Litre turbo V8 and punts out 412 kW along with 700 Nm of torque. Jaguar calls upon its tried-and-tested supercharged 5-Litre V8 to do the legwork. It churns out 405 kW and 680 Nm, but remember the F-Type is lighter than the Audi RS6. Both cars use quick-shifting eight-speed gearboxes to lay big black rubber stripes to the ground. The Audi is also claimed to be quicker to 100kph at 3.9 seconds thanks to launch control. The F-Type AWD breaks the tape in 4.1 seconds, but is only a tenth quicker than its rear-wheel drive sibling.
The ease with which you can unleash 400 Kilowatts thanks to all-wheel drive is mesmerising. With half an armful of steering lock, you can stomp on the throttle and not worry about the back end sliding out from underneath you, which is something the rear-wheel drive F-Types do easily. The Jag especially becomes more manageable, compared with the rear-driven versions that should come with a ‘handle with extreme care’ sticker. Still, these are wild beasts that leave you perspiring and mentally exhausted after an enthusiastic driving session. To some extent all-wheel drive tames the beasts, but do not for a moment think they've become placid house cats that lost their claws.
Unleash the Cracking
If you’re going to have a V8 under the bonnet then you need to shout about it. Both cars employ clever methods to manipulate the sound of the exhausts to produce spine-tingling results. The Audi, as we’ve come to expect, has a slightly understated note in the lower half of its rev range. That helps when you want to roam the streets uninterrupted in a dignified and rogue manner. Send the revs into the ‘red’ zone and there’s a bassy roar that’s clean and crisp with a snarky bark as it calls for the next gear. The F-Type R is all about theatrics and even starting it up will have your neighbours aware of your movements... even when you're still standing still.
In the Jaguar, there’s a button in the centre console that further enhances the aural exhibition. Press it in and you’re in for quite a trip. It’s loud, over the top, explosive and distinctly Jaguar. It’s like taking a chainsaw and trying to carve through a thunderstorm on Guy Fawkes Night. It’s so over the top that it’s hilariously addictive.
Track Race - Head-to-Head at Killarney
The hills are alive
Get these two unruly and brutal machines out of the city and onto the track, and they do away with all the parlour tricks and roll up their sleeves to get down to business. The Audi looks like it should flop about with all that extra heft and weight, and it does. Somehow though, it still remains stuck to the surface, even without the optional RS Sports suspension package. There’s noticeable body roll, but good feel from the chassis so you understand what the car is doing beneath you. The steering is well-weighted and very direct, pipping the Jaguar in this department.
The Jaguar’s steering is overly light, which is disappointing. They both lack ultimate feedback from the wheels, but it’s something we have become used to in modern electric steering systems. The Jag, thanks to its lower centre of gravity, is the more nimble on the track. It darts into the apex rapidly and with the addition of all-wheel drive you have the confidence to get on the throttle early and aim at the exit. The Audi is all about grip and suspension wizardry as it defies gravity by holding unthinkably tight lines for a heavy station wagon! Both cars are extremely agile, but it’s the Audi that surprises us most on the track, being able to overcome its size and weight. The result is clear to see with the Jaguar only just being able to beat it around a lap of Killarney.
Drag Race Video
Enjoying the ride
Sitting in cars that cost well north of a million Rand is not really going to leave you wanting. All connectivity needs are taken care of and both have cosseting and bear-hugging seats. Leather dominates the cabin in both with our Jag's cabin covered in swathes of red hide. The Audi is more toned down, but painstakingly well-built and designed. It’s a pleasure to get behind the wheel of and feels the more luxurious.
Where do you put your money?
While this isn’t a true comparison, it does beg the question; if you had the money, would you lean towards practicality on the one hand, or two seats and suave style on the other? Understandably, the prospective buyer's lifestyle will dictate the decision in some way but our team was surprisingly split in the inevitable office debate. When you’re throwing this kind of money around, there’s always the option of a tossing practicality out the window and getting a second car for that purpose – possibly a compact SUV. Strangely it was the guys who didn’t require the practicality that leaned towards the RS6 and its ‘sleeper’ reputation. The family and outdoor lifestyle guys honed in on the Jag’s brash and glamourous personality to take care of day-to-day driving, opting for a second car come the need for more practical motoring. What we could have here then, is a rather tasty two-car dream garage!
The similarities between these two cars lie in the performance and numbers, but they are ultimately completely different. The Audi RS6 works as a comfortable daily cruiser with place to pack things. The Jag is a weekend jaunt or highway blast type of vehicle. It feels somewhat uncomfortable in the city, even though it’s grabbing attention and admiring glances. That mad exhaust note wants to be set free into the open air and heard echoing off the rock face of a mountain pass. The Jaguar tugs harder at the heart strings, it’s got the desirability that will force you to work harder and be better to earn it. The problem is, by the time you can afford it, you’ll probably need the Audi for all the other stuff you’ve collected along the way.