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Lap Record! The Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe Beats the Tesla Model S Around Laguna Seca

Sorry to steal your thunder, Tesla


Never mind the contradiction in terms. The Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-door Coupe is the fastest four-door production car around WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca whether you call it a sedan (accurate), a hatchback (also accurate), or a four-door coupe (marketing).


2018 saw a sudden resurgence in a Laguna lap record category that's been silent for years. After the 2015 Cadillac CTS-V sedan put a two-second gap on the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG sedan at our 2015 Best Driver's Car competition, no other four-door has even come close to threatening its lap record. Then, last year, the Jaguar people went on a campaign to set as many sedan lap records as they could with their limited-edition XE Project 8, and finally the CTS-V was dethroned. Then, this summer after all our Best Driver's Car testing was complete, Tesla would go out with a Model S prototype and claim a new record of 1:36.55.


Of course, we prefer to recognize the lap records set by third parties like ourselves, so we were happy to hold Jaguar to account during this year's Best Driver's Car. Sure enough, the Project 8 put down a 1:36.96 with Randy Pobst at the wheel, more than a second and a half quicker than the bigger, brawnier Cadillac and half a second quicker than Jag's own lap (but still slower than the lap Tesla would set two months later).
 
Jaguar's victory was short-lived, however. Also parked in the garage and wearing blue, the new Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-door Coupe had other ideas. On paper, it looked to be a close match. The Jag's down on power with just 592 hp and 516 lb-ft to the AMG's 630 hp and 664 lb-ft, but the Jag's a bit lighter with a power to weight ratio of 7.0 lbs/hp versus the AMG's 7.4. The Jag also has a special manually adjusted track suspension setting and lots of wings and splitters.


That's how it played out on the track, too. On the AMG's first attempt, Randy struggled to find the right combination of driving modes and settings to get the car to do what he wanted, and the Jag's record remained secure. After some consultation with the AMG tech and a tire pressure adjustment (the same of which the Jag got from its team), Randy went back out.

"It actually feels less racy than a Jaguar does," Randy said. "The Jaguar is stiffer. This car's a little more compliant, which I think actually improves the grip on track, but it allows the car to bottom out quite hard. It's got a lot of power. That's part of it. Jag has a lot of power too, but this has more. It's just better balanced through the whole corner. I think it's pulling more g all the way through, whereas the Jag, right, we had that little oversteer and then a little understeer. This car is better balanced all the way through. Less understeer. The only thing that upsets it is a high corner entry speed. The car does not like trying to slow down in the middle of the corner. I found I had to take a lot of the speed off on the way in before I got to the apex to avoid the understeer. But the car has this great steering response and it just feels a lot lighter than it is and very, very powerful."


All that power added up to time on track, because Laguna has a big front straight coming off an extremely tight corner plus a big climb up the hill to the Corkscrew. Put it all together right, and the AMG lays down a new record lap time of 1:36.26. Faster than a supercharged Jag, faster than a supercharged Tesla prototype, the Mercedes-AMG GT 6 3S 4-door Coupe is as fast around a track as its name is long.

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Automotive Magazine: Lap Record! The Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe Beats the Tesla Model S Around Laguna Seca
Lap Record! The Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe Beats the Tesla Model S Around Laguna Seca
Sorry to steal your thunder, Tesla
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