Nissan GT-R vs Jaguar F-TYPE V8 R vs Aston Martin DB9

March 17, 2015

What happens when a V6-powered Nissan GT-R meets a V8 Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe and a V12 Aston Martin DB9? James decided to find out.

  • Check out the original post on crankandpiston.com HERE and pdf coverage from evo Middle East HERE


 EnginePowerTorque0-100kphTop speedWeightPrice
Nissan GT-RV6, twin turbo, 3799cc542bhp  @ 6,400rpm463lb ft @ 3200-5800rpm2.9 secs315kph1740kg (312bhp/ton)$123,800
Jaguar F-TYPE RV8, supercharged, 5000cc542bhp @ 6500rpm501.5lb ft @ 3500rpm4.2 secs300kph (limited)1650kg (328bhp/ton)$125,000
Aston Martin DB9V12, 5935cc510bhp @ 6500rpm457lb ft @ 5500rpm4.6 secs295kph1785kg (286bhp/ton)$225,100

Like it or not, the days of the V12 engine are dying. Save the Lamborghini Aventador, the Ferrari F12berlinetta and its FF and LaFerrari sister models, plus a smattering of twelve-cylinder powered monsters from the good people at Aston Martin, the ‘humble’ V12 scarcely gets a look in on the showroom floor anymore. Even the comparatively frugal V8 has seen better days, the rise in fuel prices (less an issue in this region but a concern across the globe) and a renewed focus on greener technology seeing manufacturers opt for the smaller, less fuel exhaustive V6 alternatives for their latest models, and the always controversial hybrid route. Of course the effort that goes into packaging twelve cylinders and the resultant weight that goes with it can’t help but prove problematic at the design easel.

Though I’ve toned down the language a tad, this is the debate the crankandpiston.com editorial team is currently waxing both lyrically and exhaustively on in the heart of our favourite mountain range just outside Wadi Wurayah. About 20 minutes earlier though, our team – consisting of AJ, newboy Yazan and myself – had been arguing on the various merits of today’s trio of sports cars, the Nissan GT-R, the Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe V8 R, and the Aston Martin DB9. It’s a hearty area of discussion, given their varying differences in character.

Take the V6-powered Nissan for instance. Remarkable as it may seem, it’s nearly a decade since the GT-R made its global debut. A seven year period in which the popularity of said flagship sports car has gone from strength to strength given its Porsche 911-bating performance potential, the modification potential that lies within for spanner junkies, and its illustrious Japanese Domestic Market lineage (an incredibly complicated one, granted, but that’s for another day). Many would argue that, as driving weapons go, there’s nothing better.



Unless of course you’re Jaguar. When first launched in its soft-top guise two years ago, the F-TYPE has proven a big draw for the British marque as both a very capable sports convertible and a reminder of Jaguar’s eminent history following the dark British Leyland period. Along though soon came the coupe version of the E-Type’s spiritual successor, and a potent one at that: the R. Jaguar’s answer to both the Porsche 911 and the Nissan GT-R, with a seriously impressive sporting pedigree to back-up its performance handling and a personality – despite the fire-snorting V8 under the bonnet – that’s typically British. A statement, like the Roadster, but an altogether different one.

And finally, we have our perennial knife at today’s gunfight, the Aston Martin DB9. The enormously successful answer to the oft-criticised DB7, the DB9 celebrated ten years of production in 2014, a reputation built on killer looks, a (then) newly developed V12 soundtrack, and a dynamic drive more gentlemanly than ferocious. True, a V12 Vantage S may have sat better in this comparison test – and was indeed our first thought – but as a representative of Aston’s V12 era, there’s few better options. Plus the irritating Sportshift III gearbox in the Vantage would have driven us round the twist.

Three sports cars, three manufacturers, three different engine configurations, three vastly different characters. Today’s group test is going to be special. And loud.



AJ – C&P’s JDM spokesman and ardent GT-R fan – immediately nabs the V6 GT-R and adopts ‘smug git’ mode as appropriate. Yazan – predicting AJ’s choice – has made a beeline for the F-TYPE V8 R, a personal favourite of his that looks the part and ‘is just mental enough that it tries to kill you around every corner’. It’s a few hours before I understand that statement.

As the comparative old man of today’s team (I’m the only one who wasn’t born in, or on the cusp of, the 1990s), I’m on point in the V12 DB9. And to be honest, I’m more than happy to ease into today’s group test with unquestionably the most premium of our trio. On the inside we find meticulous hand stitched leather upholstery and seats, a Bang & Olufsen surround sound system, something called Walnut Fascia trim, and that always nifty crystal key fob that slots into the dashboard. Boasting a near-as-makes-no-difference $225K price tag, there’s a yawning chasm between the $125K Jaguar and $123K Nissan (though granted the Aston badge alone probably accounts for $50K of that), and a quick glance at the technical bits shows the Aston is not just about pure performance.


“As the comparative old man of today’s team (I’m the only one who wasn’t born in, or on the cusp of, the 1990s), I’m in the V12 DB9. And to be honest, I’m more than happy to ease into today’s group test with unquestionably the most premium of our trio.”


Aston’s 6-litre V12 may be the biggest of the three, but the DB9’s 510bhp output is far less than the 542bhp produced by both Jag’s 5-litre supercharged V8 and Nissan’s 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6. At 1785kg it’s also the heaviest, and with a 4.6-second 0-100kph time, it’s comprehensively stuffed by both the F-TYPE (4.2secs) and the GT-R (2.9sec). The DB9 then may have double wishbone suspension and a lightweight chassis to corner like a sports car, but it’s not just about performance. It’s about the Aston experience. A V12 experience. And we all know how good Aston Martin is at that.

Despite the sense of occasion that our near half million dollar, triple operatic convoy brings to proceedings however, it’s not the greatest of starts to our drive. On the weeks leading up to our photoshoot, an incident with an Andre the Giant-sized pothole left the Jag with a completely knackered rear tyre, a double booking meant the Nissan GT-R arrived slightly later than we’d expected, and an 11th hour cancellation risked the DB9 not arriving at all. And now, as our group heads out of the city, we encounter fog. Thick, thick fog that slows our 300kph sports cars to a crawl. I’m starting to wonder if the universe is a secret Porsche 911 fan…



The benefit of driving with your nose pressed against the windscreen at 20kph is that you do tend to pay attention to your surroundings. Through the windscreen for instance I notice the Jag’s LED headlights looks remarkably similar to those on the Lamborghini Aventador, an appropriate hint at the ferocity that lies within. Most UAE drivers it seems believe their hazard warning lights make them immortal, given the speeds they pick up in almost zero visibility. And ‘having a good hunch’ that the exit you’re taking is the correct one will invariably leave you heading in completely the wrong direction. I haven’t quite managed Aston’s archaic satnav system just yet…

There are benefits to my pigeon’s instinct though, since – once the fog eventually lifts – we find ourselves on a winding stretch of back road heading vaguely towards Fujairah, an ideal opportunity to drop a couple of gears and unleash our trio of V-units.


“An incident with an Andre the Giant-sized pothole left the Jag with a completely knackered rear tyre, a double booking meant the Nissan GT-R arrived slightly later than we’d expected, and an 11th hour cancellation risked the DB9 not arriving at all”


Though I’ve been enjoying the Aston’s smooth ride, I really do need the stiffer suspensioned ‘Sport’ mode for these roads, an added bonus of which is the re-emphasised V12 soundtrack. Which, in short, is incredible. Wait a beat for the rev counter to hit mid-range and the burble escaping through the tailpipes suddenly hits another altogether boomier octave, a booming bassy assault on the eardrums that – given the low gears needed for this stretch – is just perfect. Though steering is a little indirect and the back-end much livelier than I remember from my last experience in the DB9, Aston’s prodigal son is still a formidable GT car. Balance – give or take the odd twitch from the rear – is superb, little in the way of lean or understeer hindering the run as our convoy begins to pick up speed. Throttle response is particularly impressive, bringing with it that aforementioned V12 grumble as the needle rises. Acceleration though is surprisingly refined, ditto smooth shifts through the seven-speed automatic. Mercifully, Aston’s SpeedShift III gearbox as found in the Vantage S is nowhere to be seen, progress thus much smoother thanks to the Touchtronic 2 six-speed automatic.

It’s a far cry though to what’s happening in the V6 GT-R behind me, the nose of the Nissan hustling the Aston through the corners despite the DB9’s pace. Much to the chagrin of AJ, it’s a level I’m keen to try out for myself. We pull over and he begrudgingly swaps key fobs.



 EnginePowerTorque0-100kphTop speedWeightPrice
Nissan GT-RV6, twin turbo, 3799cc542bhp  @ 6,400rpm463lb ft @ 3200-5800rpm2.9 secs315kph1740kg (312bhp/ton)$123,800
Jaguar F-TYPE RV8, supercharged, 5000cc542bhp @ 6500rpm501.5lb ft @ 3500rpm4.2 secs300kph (limited)1650kg (328bhp/ton)$125,000
Aston Martin DB9V12, 5935cc510bhp @ 6500rpm457lb ft @ 5500rpm4.6 secs295kph1785kg (286bhp/ton)$225,100

What surprises me most about the GT-R is not the digital/Playstation-esque heavy interior cabin (complete with G-readings, Race modes for transmission, suspension and traction control, and the big red stop-/start button), nor the mechanical sensation that comes with every driver input: upshift and, over the sound of the turbocharger whining, you can hear the next cog being slotted into place. This I had been prepared for after the civility of the Aston Martin. But what does surprise is the difference in seating: from the low-slung Aston, I feel like I’ve just clambered into a truck cabin. The seating is similarly opposite, the supportive yet comfortable contours of the DB9’s seats a far cry from the Recaro buckets in the GT-R. It doesn’t take much to realise that – sans some carbon fibre effect trim and air conditioning – Nissan’s headline sports car is all about performance.

Into the first few corners, I’m already aware of the difference, heft through the steering much greater than the Aston and inputs more pinpoint as a result: whereas in the Aston the nose cruised through each corner, the GT-R’s attacks almost subconsciously, perfect weight distribution allowing me to fling the Nissan through the turns without fear of impending impact. Most of this is down to Race modes for the six-speed dual clutch transmission, suspension and traction control, which AJ has very helpfully left in their most ferocious setting. Downshifts are blink of an eye quick allowing me to keep the GT-R balanced under heavy braking, high revs and no lag from the throttle allowing me to get the power down much quicker than I had been able to in the Aston. All is not well though as there is a bizarre twitchiness under heavy cornering: it’s not understeer and it’s not lean, just a slightly unsettling bobble from the suspension that is not quite as GT-R tight as I’ve previously experienced. The fact that our 2014 test model has received several thousand media test drive kilometres might be the root of the problem.


“What does surprise me is the difference in seating: from the low-slung Aston, I feel like I’ve just clambered into a truck cabin in the GT-R”


And I must admit that I’m not fully enjoying my GT-R experience. As a performance weapon it is absolutely superb: you really couldn’t buy anything more powerful, more direct and more perfectly tuned at this price point, and it’s no wonder the GT-R has deservedly developed the reputation it has. But such is the raw, digital, and – consequently – cold environment that the GT-R produces, I’m struggling to love it.

The time has come though – with Fujairah in sight – to make our final driver change of the day, a decision that rankles with Yazan in the Jag. And I can’t say I blame him. Throughout the day we’ve been followed by a superb V8 chorus, one that I’m hoping will be just as spectacular inside the cabin as it is outside. I needn’t have worried.



It’s extraordinary, a bone-chilling roar of absolute guttural power that puts the Aston’s boomy V12 and Nissan’s whiny V6 to complete and total shame. Whereas the V12’s soundtrack gets more emphatic at speed, the Jag’s supercharged V8 roar is immense even at cruise. It’s one of the reasons why perplexed bystanders turn their heads as we pass, presumably because they think gunshots have just been fired.

With AJ now in the DB9 and Yazan taking over in the GT-R, I fold myself into the Jag’s extraordinarily lumbar hugging seats. Beautifully – absolutely beautifully – designed and put together, but slightly more civil than those aggressive looks on the outside had suggested, it’s a step up from the raw veneer of the GT-R but still several steps below the DB9 in terms of refinement. Yes Jaguar, I am referring to those plastic paddle shifters. Unlike the GT-R and DB9 also, the F-TYPE is the only one of our trio without back seats, enclosing the cabin more fully around the driver as a result. Content, I flip to manual gear changes and plant the right foot.


“It’s extraordinary, a bone-chilling roar of absolute guttural power that puts the Aston’s boomy V12 and Nissan’s whiny V6 to complete and total shame. Whereas the V12’s soundtrack gets more emphatic at speed, the Jag’s supercharged V8 roar is immense even at cruise”


The back end immediately steps out under less than full throttle acceleration, the violence almost palpable. Rounding sharper corners in the lower gears, it happens again. And again. And I’m staggered. I had fully expected the GT-R to be the most aggressive of our troop, given those menacing looks and Nürburgring record. Yet the Jaguar is taking me to school and I’ve barely started. Hard acceleration is immense, and though the gear changes through the eight-speed Quickshift are not quite as reactive as the GT-Rs, the manner in which the Jag picks up speed is scintillating.

What takes a little getting used to though is the sensation of steering from what appears to be the rear axle, given the long bonnet, no rear seats and setback seating. Turn the lighter than expected wheel and the nose is already reacting: you almost feel like the car is pulling you round the corner rather than the other way around. It’s a little unsettling at first but once up to speed, throwing the F-TYPE through the corners is phenomenal, the grip and balance enough to keep the Jaguar pinned. Even if you’re not quite sure whether the big cat is about to turn around and maul you. From the civility of the Aston to the mechanical precision of the GT-R, the F-TYPE is the first time I’ve felt such conflicting emotions – excitement with a dash of terror – on our drive today. Indeed, as the road straightens up and with the V8 soundtrack still ringing in my ears, I have to pull over to get my bearings.



Fortunately it’s a staggering location we’ve chosen to stretch our legs and de-clog the eardrums, auburn mountainscape disappearing into the distance and against which our multi-coloured trio ‘pops’ magnificently. It suits our photographers nicely too, both wandering off in search of the correct frames and thus leaving AJ, Yazan and I to set up base camp. And continue our argument.

Up to 20 minutes may seem an exhaustive amount for our sports coupes, but then the day has produced some notable talking points. The looks alone could easily take us into the next morning, and so too for that matter could the engines. It’s not often we get to enjoy the merits of such vastly different powerplants at the same time, and while their characterful sound provides more than enough fuel for debate, it’s the drivability of each that we’re really keen to get down to brass tacks about. From lunatic and stunning to precise and clinical, to the just downright elegant, we’ve rarely had a group test that’s provided such different contenders. And that doesn’t make choosing our respective favourites any easier.

For AJ, he’s adamant it’s the GT-R, the precision of the drive and the mind-bogglingly complex technology at work to find those extra last tenths establishing the GT-R in his mind as THE sports car of choice for petrolheads. Full stop. For Yazan, it’s the insanity of the Jag that he’s going for, a combination of stunning design and sound with formidable handling to boot, one that could punish you in a second.


“From lunatic and stunning to precise and clinical, to the just downright elegant, we’ve rarely had a group test that’s provided such different contenders. And that doesn’t make choosing our respective favourites any easier”


Then there’s the Aston Martin, which despite being in neither the GT-R nor F-TYPE’s league in terms of performance, has had an impact on me today. Chuffing enormous price tag aside, it’s a superb example of premium sports car panache, the Aston handles as a gentleman’s GT car should, neither overly aggressive nor wallowy soft, complete with V12 soundtrack that only really gets going in its bassy manner when you do. It’s very tempting to vote DB9…

But I can’t. The insanity. The design. THAT guttural soundtrack. I couldn’t forgive myself if I voted against the Jaguar, even though part of it scares the bejesus out of me and the prospect of ‘life on the edge’ could get a little exhausting day in, day out. But the Jag handles like a dream, grabbing your attention and manhandling it into submission. All with a spectacular eight-cylinder roar.  I may be sacrificing the refinement of the Aston and the unparalleled engagement of the GT-R, but I doubt many of you would blame me.

 

*Images courtesy of Arun M. Nair, Harisanker.S, and Awesome Group

 

Nissan 
GT-R (Tech Specs)

Engine: V6, twin turbo, 3799cc

Power: 542bhp  @ 6,400rpm

Torque: 463lb ft @ 3200-5800rpm

Transmission: Six-speed dual clutch automatic

Front suspension: Forged aluminium double wishbone

Rear suspension: Multi-Link with Aluminum (forged)

Brakes: Ventilated Discs, 32.6mm (front), 30mm (rear)

Wheels: 20in front and rear

Tyres: 25540 ZRF 20 (front), 285/35 ZRF20 (rear)

Weight: 1740kg

Power-to-weight: 312bhp/ton

0-100kph: 2.9 secs

Top speed: 315kph

Price: $123,800

 

Jaguar  F-TYPE Coupe V8 R (Tech Specs)

Engine: V8, supercharged, 5000cc

Power: 542bhp @ 6500rpm

Torque: 501.5lb ft @ 3500rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed ‘Quickshift’ automatic

Front suspension: Forged aluminium double wishbone

Rear suspension: Forged aluminium double wishbone

Brakes: Ventilated discs, 380mm (front), 376mm (rear)

Wheels: 9J x 20in (front),  10.5J x 20in (rear)

Tyres: 255/35 R20 (front), 295/30 R20 (rear)

Weight: 1650kg

Power-to-weight: 328bhp/ton

0-100kph: 4.2 secs

Top speed: 300kph (limited)

Price: $125,000

 

 

Aston Martin DB9 (Tech Specs)

Engine: V12, 5935cc

Power: 510bhp @ 6500rpm

Torque: 457lb ft @ 5500rpm

Transmission: ‘Touchtronic 2’ six-speed

Front suspension: Independent double wishbones

Rear suspension: Independent double wishbones

Brakes: Ventilated carbon ceramic discs, 398mm (front), 360mm (rear)

Wheels: 8.5J x 20in (front), 11J x 20in (rear)

Tyres: 245/35 ZR20 (front), 295/30 ZR20 (rear)

Weight: 1785kg

Power-to-weight: 286bhp/ton

0-100kph: 4.6 secs

Top speed: 295kph

Price: $225,100