Firstly, I should mention that this turned out to be more difficult than expected. There was no way to clearly identify one car as ‘the most underrated supercar’. So, we had to settle for two, and go deep, to let you decide for yourself.
We know $200k is not exactly attainable for everyone. However, for those who want a supercar, a new one at that. And want the best in performance and intuition. $200k is the mark at which this becomes possible. Anything less and your starting to look at older cars, and yes. We know you can buy a C63s, a M5, a jaguar F-type or even an older model GTR. But we wanted to look at the best! What your money can truly buy. So, for times sake. Let us get into it.
A mentioned, we could not decide between two phenomenal cars, that realistically could be a lot more expensive considering they can go toe to toe with cars worth up to $600k in every aspect. The cars we are discussing in this edition of MCA In Depth are the Mercedes AMG GT S and the Nissan GT-R, the new model of course. Now in some instances you can purchase these cars with minimal mileage and almost flawless condition for a squeeze under $170,000. Although its rare, they can be found around this price. But enough rambling, its time to dive into the detail.
Lets Talk Engines
Let us start by looking into the GT-R production facilities where each engine is hand built by one individual. Known as ‘Takumi’, there are only 5 master craftsmen in the world who have attained the unique qualification. Nissan refers to the process as ‘one expert. One engine’. And yes, this means that 1 of 5 people assembled the motor in each GT-R. And you can see who exactly, as each GT-R has a plaque on the motor with the name of the Takumi encrusted on it.
Now how does that compare to the production line in the AMG factory. Well, it doesn’t really. AMG doesn’t have specifically qualified ‘Takumi’ to hand assemble each motor for the GT S. In fact, they use robots, for the most part at least. But this is not something unusual, almost all car manufacturers use robots for 80% of the production line. And in some instances, having a near flawless robot means a more efficient and consistent product.
But how does all this translate to performance. Well, you might be surprised. Both cars being twin turbos with a deep racing heritage really provides the perfect scenario for some outrages numbers. The AMG GT S produces 384kw of power and a massive 670nm of torque. AMG has practically mastered the v8. Which is why, if you take these numbers at face value, its slightly disappointing. It’s almost as if AMG has de-tuned the GT S motor to allow room to increase the performance for their GT C and GT R models. But the fact is, this car is fast regardless. And with something as simple as a tune, you can quickly increase the power output to 450kw. Which, in my opinion is how it should be from the factory, not tuned down.
The GT-R on the other hand. Leaves almost no room for improvement, and in fact, leads the field for 6-cylinder motors. Putting out a staggering 419kw and 632nm of torque. Not to mention the potential of these motors with some road legal examples in Australia exerting 750kw. It’s safe to say that the GT-R not only has some of the best drive away performance you can buy, but it is also the perfect base to build upon. And yes, you may have noticed that from the factory the AMG produces more torque. Why? Because it has an extra 2 cylinders. But again, with a quick tune, the GT-R can easily surpass that of the AMG.
So, the numbers are good. But how does each car use the power? Being that we are discussing cars no older than 5 years since they were manufactured. The technology and engineering that has been embedded in both cars is of such a high level of development that neither of the two have any issue putting power to the ground. The tech in the AMG is so advanced that the need for an AWD drive train is non-existent. Which means that yes, its RWD. And easily the most insane RWD German car available in this price range. The AMG has no issues planting power and even has a mind-boggling launch control setting. The GT-R however, sets the bar much, much higher. It profits from a lightweight and amazingly effective AWD system that propels the car from 0 – 100kmh in 2.7 seconds from the factory. And you could do this at every red light. No need for warming up the tyres or stressing about the weather or condition of the road. The GT-R absolutely leads the field in planting power to the ground and blowing your mind. The GT-R cannot be matched for performance application, not unless you spend upwards of $700k that is. As the next best car is Ferrari’s 488 Pista.
What About Design?
The AMG has a notorious and unmistakable design. Capped off by its long hood which makes it hard to miss and easily identifiable. But what is the reasoning for the long hood, is it functional? And what was the inspiration. Well, this is where it gets interesting. The long hood has a unique combination of styling and functionality that landed the AMG in the spotlight immediately after its release. Taking inspiration from the SLS AMG, its predecessor. The GTS merely replicated the design with a few Styling changes but the core reasoning for doing so remained the same. Mercedes did not want to develop a mid-engine supercar like everyone else, they wanted to keep the AMG badge for something different, something no one could, or would copy. But they needed to retain the performance the competitor mid-engine super cars had. Which means, not only packing in their ultimate twin-turbo V8 but ensuring the cars handling was perfect. So, the long hood on the GTS is designed to position the motor far enough back that the cars front to rear balance ratio is 47:53. Almost perfect right. Well that is not all. The long hood allows the AMG to divert air through various channels to the brakes, engine and producing downforce via the front of the car. So, there you have it. The 2 most important factors of the long hood. And the fact that Mercedes wanted to remain, well, special.
The GTR takes on its former body, with minor styling upgrades. However, ever since it first inception the GTR has been extremely efficient at manipulating air flow to it advantage. The sleek design of the windscreen pillars and roof allow the GTR to form a sort of vacuum that when at speed, can plant the car and add to its maddening acceleration. When it comes to styling, the GTR has never tried to be the most edgy or beautifully designed car, its sole focus since day 1 was performance and all the styling has been moulded around that goal. It does however, benefit from a new splitter, grill and diffuser that set it apart from previous models and help give it a more modern and aggressive look.
Both cars have what is considered, modern and stylish interiors. As you should expect from a $150k+ supercar. The AMG however takes the cake for the luxurious feel. With Leather, Alcantara and Aluminium making up the super sophisticated cockpit. Its hard to deny that Mercedes really nailed it with the GTS interior. Using the same infotainment system found in their C class cars, the AMG has been additionally fitted with a cool, sleek placement of air vents and an array of buttons placed so subtly you could miss them. The GTR on the other hand, does not integrate everything so cleanly. Having said that, all the materials are very high quality and it has received a much-needed update overall. With newer, better styled steering wheel, dash, and seating. The GTR can go toe to toe with some of the best in the interior design game.
So… Who Wins?
With both cars being such top players in this category. There is only one way to determine this. And that is, based on opinion. And in this case, that means my opinion. And although I may change my mind based on my mood or what I want to drive at different times. The car that id choose, after considering many different scenarios is the AMG. For me, the performance is impressive, the handling is great, the interior is one of the most luxurious out there. But what really does it for me is the design of the car, specifically the long hood. Its unlike anything else on the road. And to me, that is extremely desirable. And so there you have it. The AMG GTS and the Nissan GTR. Two of the best supercars you can buy sub $200k.
Stay Tuned – Tom