The best news to come out of the recent Frankfurt Motor Show was not the 7-speed Porsche 911 or the new runway at the Frankfurt Airport, which is properly interconnected to the high-speed ICE train network (did you hear that Heathrow and JFK a new runway and real trains). No, it was Jaguar’s new sports car dubbed the C-X16. Finally, it appears that there is going to be a worthy successor to the E-Type. For the first time since the 1970’s they are going to make a proper cad’s Jag; you know, the kind of Jaguar where you have to have sex on the bonnet because it lacks backs seats! Ian Callum and his design team have once again gotten it oh so right, but he is also the man responsible for establishing the current design language at Aston Martin. A car maker who also makes a two seat, “fuck me now” sports car in the Vantage, and a slightly used but still current looking V8 model should cost just about the same as the production C-X16. Here in-lies the ultimate cad’s dilemma, does one get the sexy new Jaguar or a cool but slightly used Aston Martin?
Let’s make the case for the purchasing of the New Jag: well, just look at it.
Ok, there has to be more to the Jaguar than “just look at it”, but seriously the car is sex on a stick. Actually, the Jag is more than just rolling sculpture; unlike say an Alfa Brera, the great beauty of the car is backed-up by some incredible engineering. Basically, the Jaguar C-X16 rivals only the Eurofighter Typhoon as a showcase for the absolute best of modern British technology; we’re talking cutting-edge stuff here. Instead of using a conventional V8, Jaguar is fitting F1-like a hybrid boost system to an all-new V6. You are hitting the big red button for more power when you need it just like engaging reheat and overriding the normal performance parameters of fly-by-wire system in the Eurofighter. Both are docile and efficient for “everyday” use, yet within them lies the capability to be an absolute balls to the wall, world-beater as required, very clever stuff. Of course, just like the Eurofighter, the Jaguar is built to placate the Continentals. It emits less CO2, is more friendly to pedestrians in a crash (I want my Leaper back, damn it!), and due to the compromises required in achieving these great feats of efficiency will only be offered with a computer-controlled automatic. This is new, modern, and all very cool, but there is an old-school alternative.
You see, if the Jag is the equivalent of the Eurofighter, then an older V8 Vantage is an automotive F-15E. Hear me out on this. The Vantage is the last of a line of conventional Astons, but like the Strike Eagle it shouldn’t really be as good as it actually is. All of the current Aston Martins are built on the same platform, which was designed to be an unsurpassed GT car. The F-15 was designed to be an unbeatable fighter under the motto: “not a pound for air to ground”. Both design teams clearly achieved their goals. Astons are unbeatable as GT cars (despite the repeated attempts of Ferrari), and the F-15 has a battle record of 104-0, which makes it statistically the best fighter jet ever! However, both original designs were ultimately adaptable in ways unimagined at their conception. With some small engineering “tweaks” both became two-seaters fit for a completely different purpose. The big DB-9 begat a Porsche competitor in the Vantage, and the best fighter ever with some small changes became the world’s best low-level attack plane. Yet, the two-seaters both still carry the DNA of the original designs, so they both ended up being able to do the new role as well as the old with equal aplomb.
The Aston Martin and the F-15 still have old style manual control interfaces (a real transmission in the Aston and mechanical controls in the F-15), so instead of having to punch some electronic override button, you just keep going. The mind blowing performance is just there. Give it some throttle and go. Despite being the last of an old breed, the Vantage and the Eagle still represent the most capable machines of their type, and with small upgrades they’re going to continue beating the more modern competition. That’s why I’d rather have a used Aston despite the maintenance costs, and the most capable fighter in Britain may be at an RAF base, but it sure as hell doesn’t belong to the Royal Air Force. You see the US Air Force’s 47th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath flies both variants of the F-15, and the RAF flies planes built to appease the Europeans. Something which Britain and her automakers really ought not to do anymore. I thought that policy had been proven to be really bad idea back in 1939, but I don’t run the UK or Jaguar Cars. Aston Martin, like the Americans, don’t really care what those Euros across the water think, and in this case that is a very good thing!