Jaguar F-Type R vs Mercedes AMG GT S
This is community service. It has to be. We are, after all, making every onlooker point and gape with awe; getting every kid and every other young woman screaming up and down with joy and are drawing envious stares from passing motorists. Now, I agree the latter might not seem very positive but here’s the thing – behind that envy, is a dream, a dream to be ‘us’ some day.
Now by ‘us’ I don’t mean motoring journalists – though this too is a dream job – but to be so successful, so rich and so fit that one can actually buy and drive one of these, regularly. And ‘these’ are our power celebrities. Two cars that have managed to draw us out of our beds and away from a beer filled afternoon on what was supposed to be a no-work Saturday.
Say hello to the Mercedes AMG GT. Draped in an odd shade of yellow, it had been playing hard to get since its India launch in November last year. Alongside this serious, tech-laden and loudly dressed German, is the brash, slightly older but still extremely desirable British seductress, the Jaguar F-Type.
Now before we throw our hands in the air and scream foul about this comparison, just because the two cars here don’t match on pricing etc., let’s just say this is less of a comparison and more of a celebration. A celebration of intoxicating power, of utmost desirability, and of one thing that pulls us motoring journos out of bed every single day – absolute driving pleasure.
But just for kicks, here are some similarities. Both are powered by V8 forced induction petrol engines; both make over 500bhp; both can get to 100kmph in around four seconds and both are rear wheel drive. And we are driving them to the ‘promised land’.
I go straight for the AMG GT’s keys. Two reasons. It is the newer car; one I haven’t driven. And the F-Type – which I have driven on a couple of occasions before – has this gorgeous behind you can’t get enough of. So, if I have to tail something, it might as well be the F.
The F-Type’s rear end is evocative. With those pronounced haunches; those slim tail lights; and those quad pipes, splitter design and fat rear tyres; it looks brilliant. Then, of course, it has a sculpted hood, muscular fenders, and an aggressive and in your face bumper, and purposeful looking headlamps; all of which further add to the F-Type’s attractiveness. It has great proportions too. The small overhangs, the low, sweeping roof, and hotwheels like large wheels, together give it unparalleled road presence. No wonder it is counted amongst one of the most beautiful cars currently roaming our roads.
The AMG GT is a stunner as well, especially in this yellow hue that draws bystanders to motorcyclists to all sorts of four-wheeled guys to it as if by black magic. And it has a great behind as well. But, the GT’s rear doesn’t look as special plainly because it reminds one of the Porsche 911. Thankfully, the front-end design is more original; in fact, it’s typical of a modern day, power packed Mercedes. It has a buff nose with the large grille holding the three-pointed star; it has the usual overtly dramatic AMG bumper and it has a nice carbon fibre splitter broadcasting the GT’s sporty credentials. But, it is in profile that the AMG GT truly stands out. It is low and with that long hood and pushed back small glass area, it looks like a car that came off a gathering of 250GTOs and E-Types. Beautiful and a bit retro. Fantastic.
Now, before we can make it to the ‘promised land’ of no traffic, beautiful roads and endless corner carving, we have to tackle the challenge that is Mumbai city. Here’s the thing about Mumbai, you might not find too many potholes, especially in this season, but the roads in general are unbelievably undulating, these have seriously pronounced bumps everywhere, and then there are these towering speed breakers that make no sense at all.
In the AMG GT, these roads related worries get amplified to the power of 10. The GT is a low car that doesn’t even get an option to raise its nose. So, no matter how hard we tried and how crossed up we approached a speed breaker, the Mercedes almost always touched. The Jaguar in front of me, though, managed most without a bother.
And then, when it came to the concrete city roads, the AMG was a racket. It is set up a bit too aggressively so it constantly bobs around at slow speeds, the suspension makes all sorts of noises, and even the smallest of bumps and road joints can be felt inside. And when you pick up speed and encounter a crest, it lands with a severe jolt to your back. The AMG GT is downright uncomfortable.
The F-Type isn’t the epitome of comfort either. It too is set up on the stiffer side. And it won’t nurse your back on broken roads either. But, compared to the GT, on these Mumbai roads, it’s bliss. It has more give. There’s more suspension travel, better absorption, quieter functioning and less bobbing. The F-Type tramlines less as well. Not sure how things will pan out on the ‘promised land’, but if I had to pick one for the daily grind, it would be the F-Type, no doubt.
The Promised Land
So here we are on black, winding tarmac, among lush green trees, with no speed breakers in sight, and hardly any traffic to jog. Welcome to the ‘promised land’. And this time, I am pleased I am in the AMG GT.
The AMG GT uses an aluminium spaceframe for a chassis. It has a trick suspension, near ideal weight distribution and a front end that has to be experienced to be believed. But, before we get there, let’s talk grip.
The GT makes a little over 500bhp all of which is sent to the rear wheels via a 7-speed transaxle. This should make for a scary oversteering story. But no. Get on the gas on the AMG GT – even while exiting tight corners – and this Mercedes just squats on its hind, hooks up onto the road, and fires you out of bends with vengeful ferocity. There’s a twitch here and a hint of a slide there, but overall, the grip levels are outstanding.
Then there’s that front end. Mercedes has mounted the engine behind the front axle making this a complicated front-mid sort of a layout. But add rear wheel drive to the equation and the benefit is absolute purity in steering - purity in its response and purity in its feel. The AMG GT turns into corners with stunning accuracy and swiftness while offering analogue levels of feel from the chassis, the steering and even the tyres. It literally puts you in control, reads every tiny input and executes it without filtration. It’s astounding!
The Jaguar F-Type is equally remarkable, but in a completely different way. Firstly, it is much easier to get in and then get comfortable in. It is also easier to look out off. But when you shift into D and floor the throttle, it goes berserk. First, it shakes its hip like a Latino pop star as its rear tyres lay darkies you’d be proud of. Then, when the rear tyres finally grip, the F-Type spits you off like a cork from a well shaken up Moet & Chandon. But, it doesn’t pop, of course; the F snarls like an angry cougar – which in fact it is!
And then come the corners, one after the other, in quick succession. Here’s where you begin to miss the AMG’s finesse. The F-Type feels soggier under braking and turn in. It also rolls more. And the steering just doesn’t feel as alive as on the Mercedes. But, when it’s time to exit a bend and get on the power, the Jaguar doesn’t hold back. It shows off its 40 extra horses in style as it begins to get its back around without the heavy hand of the electronics intervening abruptly. And it happens so smoothly and predictably, it’s strangely satisfying and elating. You just want to indulge in this slide bend after bend.
There’s only one conclusion to this story: This was one of the best working Saturdays I have spent in a very long time. It was an absolute blast, much better than tanking up on beer for sure. As for the cars…well both the Mercedes AMG GT and the Jaguar F-Type are cars you don’t buy with your head; these tug at your heartstrings. And these are fast, fun and fantastic. But yes, if I wanted fast lap times, precise handling, feelsome brakes and an uninterrupted driver-car connection, I’d drive the AMG GT. But, if I wanted to indulge in some pointless fun of slides, noise, manic quarter mile times, and standing out in a crowd, the F-Type would be it. Take your pick…
Pictures by Kapil Angane