I have a theory that the patchy quality of the GT-R’s cabin and its heavily dated switchgear is a running joke at Porsche. ‘Reinhard’s new briefcase is so cheap,’ they might laugh, ‘it must have been made by Nissan!’ Yes, the GT-R’s cabin is completely outclassed by the modern German offerings, but that does nothing to diminish what is one of the highest quality driving experiences at any price. ‘It isn’t really my sort of car,’ says Colin, ‘but it is incredible to drive. I think it could be the best four-wheel-drive performance car ever.’
The magazine group test isn’t necessarily an environment in which the F-type thrives. Being a bigger and heavier car than its rivals, it can feel a bit wallowy and floaty in direct comparison. Never dim-witted or leaden, though, because it has so much grip, such a keen front end, such immediate steering response – to the point of being contrived, in fact – and so much raw performance that it always feels like a livewire.
What it doesn’t have is the Porsche’s or the Nissan’s rock-solid body control, both in terms of roll and also over crests and undulations. If you take the time to tune into it, though, rather than jumping from one car to another, as tends to be the way on group tests, you soon learn how to get the best out of it.
The trick is to be smoother and more fluid with your inputs, allowing the car to settle on its springs on initial turn-in before really committing to a bend. Nonetheless, there is still a disconnect for me between the strong self-centring effect of the steering and the manic rate of response at the front axle. The car will dart into an apex with immediacy and laser-like precision, but the lifeless, elastic helm leaves you feeling removed from it all.
Ultimately it isn’t a major hindrance to your pace or enjoyment down a winding stretch of road, once you’ve grown accustomed to its ways. This rear-wheel-drive F-type R, rather than the All Wheel Drive models we’ve tested on a couple of occasions in recent months, is clearly very traction-limited in the wet – supercharged V8s do tend to overwhelm two contact patches in greasy conditions – but in the dry it is more engaging. With so much power on tap, you can provoke the rear axle under load alone, not needing momentum as well to feel the back end of the car sliding away from a corner. It’s a much simpler and more timeless driving style than the GT-R’s and, although the F doesn’t have that car’s outright dynamic ability, it is a great deal of fun. It has character, too, thanks in no small part to that 5-litre engine and a comically flatulent exhaust note.