David Gandy on cars
Mercedes AMG GT S
Jaguar F-Type R AWD
The Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing and the Jaguar E-Type became iconic in the 1950s and 1960s and, 50 years on, they are still fighting for GT sports car supremacy. Now called the Mercedes AMG GT S and Jaguar F-Type R AWD, they are similarly matched on paper: –front engine, rear-wheel drive, both over 500bhp, two seaters, around the £100k mark and both, of course, hugely desirable. However, which one can be called the finest GT sports car in today’s world?
David Gandy and Charlie Tee put them to the test
Design and styling: exterior
DG: These are two of the best-looking cars on the road today. The three-quarters angle from the rear of the Jag is gorgeous. However, from some other angles, it can look slightly disjointed. Both cars pass the “look back” test – when you park a car, walk away then look back a few times and think, “What a great looking car”.
CT: Agreed, though the front end of the Mercedes is my favourite part; it’s mean, purposeful and tells a good story of what the rest of the car is all about.
DG: I don’t think the front of the Merc needs to be so long. The Mercedes is trying to evoke the original 300 SL and the SLS and to keep that tradition going, whereas the Jaguar is a more modern design, taking only a few influences from the fabled E-Type.
CT: Yes, but if I’m judging the car that turns more heads, it’s easily the Mercedes.
DG: The Jag is much more understated, whereas the Merc is more of a statement – it’s certainly a car to be seen in. Which is probably why you like it so much.
CT: Probably. Yes, but as much as the Jag is understated, have you heard the bloody thing? That exhaust certainly isn’t understated, its deafening!
DG: I don’t know what a WW2 German Messerschmitt sounded like on your tail during the Battle of Britain, but I imagine the GT S was something like it. Of course, we all know how that ended though, thanks to the British Spitfire!
Design and styling:
DG: The Mercedes interiors coming out right now are some of the best on the market, but I just don’t like the huge slabs of cheap-looking metal, which I think should have been carbon fibre. Also, there are cup holders where the gear stick should be, and the gear stick is actually behind your left elbow. Then when you rest your left elbow on the centre console, it hits the ESP button and turns the ESP off – very annoying.
CT: Yes, to put it into gear, it feels like you are trying to scratch your lower back. The interior is really comfortable though; it’s a great seating position, and all the controls are clear and nicely laid out. Also, flicking it into Race Mode does make you feel like Ayrton Senna.
DG: The Jag didn’t have the updated infotainment unit as well as new seating and a few updates for 2017. Saying that, it’s still the more comfortable and sorted cabin. However, when you sit down in the Mercedes, it feels like you are in a race car. In the Jag, you feel like you are sitting slightly on top of the car – I found it ever so slightly numb after driving the Mercedes. But drive the Merc for too long and you feel numb also… a numb bum.
DG: On paper, the Jag has 30bhp more, is all-wheel drive and 25 more nm of torque, so should be quicker. But I felt the Mercedes was a fair bit quicker than the stats say it is – 3.8 to 60 mph vs the Jag’s 3.9 seconds. Maybe the extra jag weight hinders it here.
CT: Both cars are stupidly fast – but the Mercedes felt instantly more responsive. Also the steering and brakes felt more solid. The Mercedes’ ceramic brakes are fantastic for track days but, on the road, they have that snatchy feeling with no progression. They were a £5k option on this car and one that I would not be ticking. It’s like throwing the anchor overboard – terrifying if you’re feeling a bit heavy-footed.
DG: Let’s face it though, both cars have stupendous power and speed. In some ways, they almost felt sometimes too quick and too easy to drive. Shouldn’t there be more drama at these speeds?
Ride and handling
DG: I think this Jag is the stiffest chassis and ride of any Jag I’ve ever driven, but it’s still very comfortable over long journeys.
CT: It feels a bit skittish. I nearly lost the back end a couple of times, which could have been an expensive mistake. The Mercedes feels instantly more planted to the road, especially when you crank up the pace and start pushing it into the corners.
DG: I feel less confident in the Jaguar than the Mercedes – with the all-wheel drive it shouldn’t be like that, but I think you soon learn with the Jag that you can take liberties with the chassis and power, and the AWD would always keep you on the straight and narrow, so to speak.
I personally couldn’t live with the Merc’s suspension setup, even in comfort mode, as an everyday car – it’s hard and tiring.
I found myself avoiding cracks in the road just to keep my spine safe. That said, for an afternoon thrashing around Goodwood, that’s what you want – stiff and very responsive.
CT: Agreed. It is great for a track, not so much for popping down to Waitrose as an everyday ride.
DG: Waitrose? You mean Marks and Spencer, of course?
CT: No I don’t.
CT: In coupé form, both these cars have adequate boot space for everyday use or long weekends away, especially compared with their cabriolet counterparts. I imagine you could fit your golf clubs in the back. Also, getting in and out of them is easier than a lot of other similar style cars. Wait, is that a really Mr Practical comment?
DG: Here’s a question for you – grandad: do you wish the GT had the gullwing doors?
CT: Yes, of course I do. It’s a 500bhp two-seater modern-day version of one of the most iconic vehicles ever made, and gullwing doors are awesome.
DG: I almost feel like, as soon as you put gullwing doors on something, it turns it into a supercar.
DG: The Jag had everything the Mercedes had, apart from the ceramic brakes, and came in at £93k – so £38k less than the Merc.
Even with no ceramics, which are £5k, the Merc would still be a £126k car. If you wanted an even more driver-orientated F-Type, then you could order the SVR version. 560bhp, 200mph, looks better, handles better and the ride is incredible and that is still cheaper than the GT S.
CT: So, whichever way you cut it, the Merc is a “Range Rover Evoque more expensive”, which is a significant amount.
DG: But do you think the Mercedes is £35k more desirable than the Jag?
Conclusion and verdict. which one would you take home?
CT: Both cars are immense fun and amazing feats of engineering. Each car’s DNA comes across beautifully as soon as you sit in the cockpit and they are each unmistakably derivations of bygone icons.
The question is: “Is this car a supercar?” And if this is the million-dollar question, the answer is simple – the Mercedes AMG GT S is a supercar, the Jag just is not. That said, the Jag is infinitely easier to use day to day, it’s beautiful to look at and sounds like the apocalypse is coming – it’s an absolute hoot to drive and I love the fact that it’s a British brand.
So, which car do I desperately want to take home? I’ll have the supercar please.
DG: Ask me what car I want to drive around the Nurburgring or on my favourite country road on a Sunday morning and I would say the Mercedes AMG GT S. Ask me what car I would want to drive through Europe to the Nurburgring and for everyday driving, and I would say the Jaguar F-type.
Both these cars are, quite frankly, superb and, while on paper they may be similar, they are very different cars. The GT is brash, uncompromising and bold, the Jag is stylish, understated with a brutal edge.
For this test though, I have to make a definitive decision on what I would take home and, even though it should be a harder decision than it actually is, every time you start the Jag, the Union Jack appears on the screen and that makes my decision that littl