Mercedes-Benz S-Class VS Jaguar F-Type
- Fantastic V8 engine
- Brilliant interior
- Jekyll/Hyde chassis
- Very heavy
- Service costs
- Natural handling
- Punchy engine
- Fun to drive
- No reversing camera
- Some absurd options
- Small boot
Ever since the middle of the 1990s, I've been captivated by the Mercedes-Benz S Class. It used to be known as Sonderklasse - special class - and teenage me certainly thought it was. The one that caught my attention was the W140. A huge, two-tonne beast when that sort of mass was rare, it was loaded with amazingness and owned the road.
Part of its unique appeal was that that it was properly ugly. When it hove into view it was like a battleship entering Sydney Harbour. And it used almost as much fuel, with the V12 on board.
Over the years, genuine style has invaded the S-Class and today I found myself, for the first time, in an unusually pretty pair of S Classes - the S560 and S63 Coupes. And, astonishingly, it's the first time I've ever driven an S-Class. So with all that baggage I've built up over the years, they had a lot to live up to.
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
There's an old automotive saying that says “only milk and juice comes in two litres”, but that’s not the case anymore. Now, you can get liquid fun in a 2.0-litre mechanical package, too.
That’s because of cars like this, the new 2018 Jaguar F-Type, which has seen the addition of a new four-cylinder engine that still packs plenty of power and torque, is lighter than its big-engine siblings, and – perhaps best of all – in base model guise, is more affordable than any F-Type to date.
Sounds promising, huh? Well, there are some really convincing parts to this car – but also some things that are downright questionable.
Allow me to explain…
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Both of these vast vehicles are phenomenally comfortable - this is the kind of car that Mercedes does so well, and has done for decades. The S Class is rarely a disappointment but it's difficult to believe that such a big, heavy GT car can also dance the way the S63 does.
The S560 is far more weighted to being a GT - supremely comfortable with that active suspension, a growly, refined V8 and a cabin full of gadgets and comfort. The S63 is altogether more aggressive, to look at and to drive. Lopping the roof off both of them adds weight but, like any cruiser, also puts you out in the sun, the breeze and into your surroundings. Plus, in the case of the S63, you get more exhaust noise.
They're two very different cars and not just because of the engine. After all these years admiring it from afar, the S63 has delivered on my teenage expectations - fast, smooth and utterly mad.
Is the S Class still the car that springs to mind when you think ultimate luxury? Or has another brand taken its place? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The 2018 Jaguar F-Type in four-cylinder spec is a very intriguing option in the sports car segment.
It’s clearly not without its faults, but the entry-grade engine offers a thought-provoking alternative to the pricier supercharged V6 and V8 versions.
Would you consider a four-cylinder Jaguar F-Type? Let us know in the comments section below.
The S Class Coupe is obviously related to the sedan but manages a svelte appearance. Slimmer hipped and with a more Coke-bottle shape, the Coupe - if you squint a bit - has a bit of the classic old pagoda about it. Obviously you can't do pillars that slim anymore, but the glass roof takes away some of the visual weight inside and out.
The cabriolet's roof is nicely integrated and looks good when it's up, which isn't always the case.
They all look long, though. It's obvious to see why the cars all run on 20-inch wheels - anything smaller would look hilarious.
The cabin is a fairly sensible re-imagining of the E-Class. The big twin-screen layout of the dash and multimedia system seems a bit more at home here. The chintzy Burmester speakers in the doors let down an otherwise classy cabin, which steers clear of otiose vulgarity in looks and materials.
The most interesting thing about the F-Type four-cylinder model is that it’s almost indistinguishable as being the most affordable version in the range.
I mean, unless you know that the trapezoidal central tailpipe is the only real giveaway (and the noise that comes out of it, for that matter!), you’d be hard-pressed to notice a difference. That’s because most F-Type buyers add heaps of styling options.
For instance, the cars we drove at the launch of the new model were all the R-Dynamic version, which exchanges the newly developed 18-inch light alloy wheels for bigger, heavier 19s. And then—why not?—those 19s were changed again for a different looking set of 19s, but still wore Pirelli P-Zero tyres.
It still sits low and looks mean, and the newly added LED headlights with LED daytime running lights are quite fetching, even if their addition has meant the front-end looks less cat-like than before.
It’s still a stunner, though – even more than four years after its launch.
Well look, if you end up in the back of the S Coupe, it's not a riot of space. Obviously it has back seats (the SL doesn't even squeeze a jump seat into its considerable length) but they're for occasional, if luxurious, use.
The boot is a reasonably decent 400 litres, obviously the cabriolet loses a few litres with the roof folded. Front and rear passengers will both enjoy a pair of cupholders and the whopping long doors will each hold a bottle.
You don’t buy a Jaguar F-Type if you’re after the last word in practicality. It’s not a pragmatic purchase – but for its, er, type, it’s a reasonably practical space.
The F-Type still has some useful elements to the cockpit, including a decent centre console bin between the seats, a small mesh pocket above that, two cupholders, and a reasonable glove box. The door pockets have bottle holders, and a little extra storage besides.
As it has been made clear before, the F-Type has a boot that is almost small enough to rule out a long weekend trip, particularly in the convertible. The drop-top’s boot capacity is 196 litres, and is interfered with by a spare wheel, while the coupe has up to 407L of space (if you’re going beyond the parcel shelf; otherwise, it’s a 315L hold).
It’s purely a two-seater, so there are no top-tether or ISOFIX child-seat anchor points. If you’re particularly tall, you might find yourself a bit cramped.
Believe it or not, vanity mirrors are optional. I mean, I know the slimline visors are pretty hopeless, but sheeeeeeesh.
Price and features
One thing hasn't changed in nearly 20 years - the S isn't cheap. Available in coupe and cabriolet, the S560 starts at $314,900 for the former and $336,900 for the latter. Step up to the S63 pair and you'll pay from $370,500 for the coupe and $399,900 for the cab. If you're super keen for something spectacular, the twin-turbo V12-powered S65 is available for between $508,900 and $520,500, and features Swarovski crystals in the headlights, for some reason.
As you can imagine, there's quite a bit to cover, so for both cars I'll stick to the edited highlights. The S560s roll on 20-inch alloys, has a 590-watt 13 speaker sound system, digital TV, auto parking, active cruise control, panoramic glass roof, Nappa leather, active seats and power-closing doors.
It also comes standard with a heating pack that not only heats the seats but the steering wheel and centre console. In the cabriolet you also get the 'Airscarf' neck heater.
Both cars also feature's Mercedes' Magic Body Control with curve function. More of that wacky feature later.
The S63 AMG is a step up in power, price and spec. One notable change from the S560 is the loss of 'Magic Body Control', which is replaced with mere air suspension. The 20-inch alloys are 10-spoke forged units, the brakes higher performance composites with red calipers, while an AMG sports exhaust brings the noise.
Naturally, both are swathed in high-quality leather and feature dual-zone climate control, heated and cooled electric seats that adjust in every direction, deep carpets, keyless entry and start, fully digital dashboards and just about every gadget to which you can point your imagination.
Entertainment and sat nav are via Mercedes' 'Comand' system, which is displayed on a massive 12.3-inch slab of glass at the top of the dashboard. The 13-speaker Burmester-branded system is predictably impressive and with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you only have to use the basic software for the radio or various car controls.
The entry-grade F-Type four-cylinder models are priced at $107,012 for the coupe, while the convertible model adds $18,000 to the asking price ($125,712). Both are automatic – there’s no manual option.
To contextualise that, if you want the supercharged V6 engine instead, you’ll need to spend $126,212 for one with an automatic transmission (there’s a cheaper manual version, which is five grand less).
Standard equipment for the four-cylinder model includes new light alloy 18-inch wheels, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, part-leather sports seats with electric adjustment, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminium interior trim elements, keyless ignition and auto headlights/wipers.
A lot of premium brands are adding heaps of equipment to their cars to keep sales ticking over. Jaguar, though, continues to take buyers for a walk down to path to the old Ripoff Pool in terms of optional extras.
Believe it or not, Jaguar asks you to spend more for dual-zone climate control ($1040), keyless entry ($1200), and even a reversing camera. Yes – you read that right: a modern-day car company has the audacity to ask buyers to option a potentially life-saving reversing camera, and at a cost of $1080, too. Rear parking sensors are standard... which is something.
See the safety section below for more disgust on that.
If you’re looking at a Jaguar F-Type, other vehicles that could be on your shopping list include the Porsche 718 Boxster convertible and Porsche 718 Cayman coupe, the Alfa Romeo 4C and the Lotus Exige – all of which arguably have a harder edged sporting intent to them than this car.
Engine & trans
All four coupes and cabriolets ship with Daimler's formidable 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. The S560 scores 345kW/700Nm to drive the rear wheels through Benz's own nine-speed automatic. With all of that available, the S560 will crack the ton in 4.6 seconds and make a wonderful racket on the way.
Moving on to the S63, the same engine delivers a massive 450kW/900Nm. The run from 0-100km/h is dispatched in just 3.5 seconds and if I thought the S560 made a good noise, the S63 with its standard sports exhaust makes a better one. Again, Mercedes' nine-speeder is along for the ride.
The F-Type’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is one of the more potent engines of this type out there, with a solid 221kW of power (at 5500rpm) and 400Nm of torque (from 1500-4500rpm).
It is only available in rear-wheel drive, and only with an eight-speed automatic with paddle-shifters. For reference, the supercharged V6 can be had with a six-speed manual and rear-drive, while the supercharged V8 is auto and all-wheel drive only.
Jaguar claims a 0-100km/h time of 5.7 seconds, which is sprightly, if not manic, and a top speed of 250km/h… not that you’ll ever find it in Australia.
The lower-powered 560 drinks 98RON at the rate of 8.5L/100km for the coupe and 9.9L/100km for the heavier cabriolet.
The S63 ups the ante with 9.9L/100km for the coupe and an identical 9.9L/100km for the cab.
Our launch program contained some...er...spirited driving, which would explain the mid to high-teens fuel figures.
Jaguar claims fuel consumption of 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres for the F-Type four-cylinder model, which is more frugal than the supercharged V6 and throbbing V8 models by some margin.
Over our loop, which involved a good stint of spirited driving, some freeway cruising and some Sydney traffic, we saw 9.9L/100km. I think that’s totally acceptable.
Let's start with the S560. That smooth V8 rumble is all you'll ever hear if you just slot into drive and go for a leisurely spin. The nine-speed automatic continues to be a revelation to me - in the GLC63 it's good and here, once again, it's excellent, finding the right gear for the occasion and riding the fat torque curve. Other nine-speed autos are not very good at all.
The test route for the S560 played to the strengths of the car. It had some lovely winding roads, which brought the trick suspension into focus - the Magic Body Control with curve function is hilarious. While the active suspension works hard at all times to ensure the ride is smooth and drama free, the Curve mode (no, really) actually leans the car into corners.
Those of you who remember the video game Wipeout 2097 will be big fans of Curve mode. As you approach a corner, you turn the wheel and then the car leans into the bend. This isn't active damping reading the road, it's the outside suspension lifting the car and the inside lowering it, so the car feels like it's gliding, like a hovercar. It's wild but oddly calming. Mercedes reckons it's great for those who get car sick. As I didn't have my wife on hand to test this theory - she chucks at the first sign of a corner - I couldn't verify this claim. That will have to wait.
The S63 AMG is a completely different proposition. The air suspension is more than up to the job of helping smother the effects of the car's considerable weight, meaning that no matter what you're up to, the car feels reasonably light on its feet. It never feels small, though, commanding the respect of the driver and plenty of space from other road users.
And boy, do you need some space if you kick the S63 into Sport mode. In true AMG style, the electronic reins relax and the big luxury coupe cheerfully kicks off. The tail will wriggle under an unsympathetic right foot, that signature V8 roar, crackle and hiss filling your ears. The S63 is always the harder-feeling car, but it delivers with a more sporting drive than the S560.
Being the generous soul I am, I volunteered to return the S63 to its home for the evening rather than consign it to the back of a truck. On the back roads I took to reach the highway, it was rock solid - fast, predictable and a lot of fun. Once I found the boring straight bits, it turned into a supremely comfortable cruiser, ticking along in ninth at the legal limit (and being Melbourne, it was very much the legal limit), dispatching overtaking with barely a flex of a toe.
The active cruise took the stress of keeping away from the State Revenue Office's clutches while being quiet and utterly pleasant.
While I might have some serious qualms about the brand’s priorities in terms of specs and standard safety kit, there’s no doubt you get what you pay for in terms of performance.
Wait, you could read that the wrong way… I’m not saying that because you’re choosing the most affordable F-Type that you’re getting the most budget-feeling drive experience. This is still a truly sporty car – in fact, it’s more of a purist offering than the muscle monsters that are the supercharged V6 and V8 models.
That’s because it’s lighter, and it truly feels more agile than those cars.
With 52kg less weight to contend with, the four-cylinder is more pointable in corners, and that lower kerb weight makes for a natural driving experience.
In the gruntier models you can spend time trying to catch the car’s balance in the bends, but not in the four-cylinder – it has beautiful balance, holding a line very nicely. That’s enough you make it feel like you’re sewing a smooth ribbon through a series of corners, where in the V8 model you might end up making a zig-zag stitch. It goes well, and stops terrifically, too.
The ride is firm, but it’s a sports car, so that’s excusable. You will notice more of the bumps in the convertible, the body of which has been stiffened up to deal with the lack of a fixed roof. And while you will notice big lumps in the road, and you’ll hear and feel potholes, it’s never annoyingly uncomfortable.
After spending a few hours in the car, I think it’d be the ideal coastal cruiser… you just might have to make it a day trip rather than a weekend away because of that teeny-weeny boot.
If it were my money and I was set on a F-Type four-pot I’d buy the coupe, because it is more resolved on patchy road surfaces and has a bigger boot. If you want the wind in your hair, just wind down the windows.
The S-Class coupe comes loaded with eight airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward and reverse AEB with pedestrian detection, reversing camera, crosswind assist (I know, right?), traffic-sign recognition and reverse cross traffic alert.
The S-Class Coupe does not have an ANCAP or EuroNCAP rating.
This is a hard criterion to score it against. There has never been a Jaguar F-Type flung against various objects at different speeds to ascertain a safety score, so we can’t give it a hat-tip for a strong ANCAP or EuroNCAP score.
And the lack of a standard-fit reversing camera is one of the most absurd things we’ve encountered in a high-end car for a bloody long time. But it's not unusual - you've got to pay for a reversing camera in a Porsche 718 Cayman or Boxster, too.
For what it’s worth, you can option the further safety of lane-keeping assist and driver fatigue monitoring. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional as well – you can get all of those bits in a pack, if you like, for the sum of $2210.
But honestly, a reversing camera being a $1080 option is simply disgusting on a car that has rearward vision as poor as this one does.
F-Types come with six airbags in the coupe and four in the convertible.
Mercedes offers a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with roadside assist for the duration.
The company also offers both service plans (where you pay up-front as part of the vehicle purchase) and capped-price servicing on the coupes. Servicing over three years is in the order $2500.
The standard warranty offered on the Jaguar range is three years/100,000km, and it includes roadside assist for that period. There’s the option of an extended warranty up to five years/200,000km in total, too.
The F-Type attracts Jaguar’s free servicing campaign – so, according to the company’s website, you won’t have to pay a single dollar for standard scheduled servicing over the first five years/130,000km. Maintenance is due every two years or 26,000km.