If you had the money to indulge in the car of your dreams, would you go for the opulence, comfort and relaxation of a luxury saloon or the performance and looks of a sports car? Well, with models such as the new Mercedes S63 AMG and Jaguar XJR on the market, you no longer have to choose at all.
Both provide a deliciously tempting mix of limousine grandeur and supercar acceleration, with power from mighty V8 engines producing more than 500bhp. Yet they retain the luxuries and luggage space that make big saloons so easy to live with. We’ve already been blown away by the refinement, desirability and quality of the latest S-Class in S350 CDI trim, so has the AMG treatment made it even better?
With 577bhp and a huge 900Nm of torque, the twin-turbo Mercedes has the edge over the 542bhp supercharged XJR. But the Jaguar is lighter, and the standard version has always been a fine-handling four-door – so is the hot R model the sharper choice here?
And can these cars really be as much at home on a run to the Ritz as they are along a twisting back road? Find out as we put them through their paces.
It’s irrelevant most of the time, but AMGs traditionally have an alter ego that sees them switch from composed saloon to smile-a-minute entertainer when given the freedom of a track and turned-off traction control.
We tested the civilised Merc against a very unrefined drift car in an exclusive video to see how the saloon would perform. But the S-Class had superb grip and was almost too composed – so the lighter Jaguar was more entertaining.
The S-Class boasts a bespoke AMG MCT seven-speed twin-clutch auto, while the Jaguar features an eight-speed ZF self-shifter. Both are seamless in auto mode and offer manual control via paddles, but the Jaguar has a crisper shift in the sportier settings.
While they share V8 layouts, the Mercedes and Jaguar engines take different approaches. The AMG twin-turbo trumps the Jaguar’s engine for torque and outright power, although thanks to its sharper throttle response, the supercharged XJR feels just as quick and covers 0-60mph three-tenths faster.
Even with its turbos spinning hard, the Merc can’t outrun the Jag for in-gear response, although the £2,760 AMG Driver’s Pack gives a higher 186mph top speed. Still, in the real world both models have performance to spare.
1st place: Mercedes S63 AMG
AMG has seamlessly matched the latest S-Class’s market-leading refinement, comfort and quality to effortless performance. It’s not as thrilling as the Jag, but the S63’s composure and class are second to none. If you desire luxury, power and practicality in one package, this will be all the car you’ll ever need.
2nd place: Jaguar XJR
Lively handling and brutal performance mark out the XJR. It’s cheaper and faster than the S63, too, but ultimately it trails with its interior class, space and quality, as well as its refinement. However, for those looking for something that’s a bit different, the XJR’s character
and style are hard to ignore.
Mercedes S63 AMG LJaguar XJR
On-the-road price/total as tested£119,565/£139,735£92,370/£98,065
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£54,283/45.4%£37,779/40.9%
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£8,307/£16,614£6,388/£12,775
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£4,062/£6,771£5,025/£8,374
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost50/£2,219/L/£47550/£1,920/M/£490
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£48 per month (3yrs)£299/£399/£299
Peak power/revs577/5,500 bhp/rpm542/6,500 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs900/2,250 Nm/rpm680/2,500 Nm/rpm
Transmission7-spd auto/rwd8-spd auto/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel80 litres/sealant82 litres/space-saver
Boot capacity510 litres520 litres
Turning circle/drag coefficient12.5 metres/0.24Cd11.9 metres/0.29Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unlimited)/4yrs3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable/13615,000 (1yr)/97
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.5th/5th3rd/12th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./starsN/AN/A
0-60/30-70mph4.4/3.4 secs4.1/3.5 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.7/3.8 secs2.3/3.1 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th4.4/5.9/N/A secs3.9/5.5/7.2/N/A secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph186mph*/1,500rpm174mph/1,500rpm
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph44/63/54/64dB42/63/54/71dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range18.8/4.1/331 miles15.2/3.3/274 miles
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket347/237g/km/35%429/270g/km/35%
Adaptive dampers/adaptive cruise ctrlYes/yesYes/£1,275
Met paint/privacy glass/soft-close doorsYes/£400/£610Yes/£255/yes
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