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Driving Performance: The Mercedes-AMG GT


Before writing this I spent a few hours walking around an AMG GT whilst making happy noises. Like a moth to a lamp if one of these is around, I gravitate towards it. I’ve been looking at this model for years on screen and at various race tracks yet getting up close and personal with one still gives me shivers of excitement. 

 

What is it about this car that has this magnetic effect on me? For starters…just take a look at it. A GT in the purest sense of the term. Long, gracious, flowing bonnet; massive performance; two seats; rear wheel drive. The ingredients are spot onThere’s more than just a nod to the AMG VISION GRAN TURISMO concept from 2013 and it is clear to see where the design started out. 

 

                                                                                     

 

The car looks as if it has been cast or milled from one piece of aluminium. Everything works and flows together in a gorgeous harmony. It is a truly beautiful thing to see yet powerful and menacing in its demeanour in equal measure. That giant 3-pointed star takes centre stage and the contours of the body all dissipate outwards from this badge of honour. 

 

The GT is the second road car developed solely by AMG following the extraordinary SLS of 2010 and like its forefather this model has a front-mid engine layout. And what an engine it is. AMG is renowned across the world for making some of the finest performance engines; nestled within its aluminium skeleton is the glorious M178 engine. A four-litre twin turbocharged V8 generating between 469 and 730 hp depending on which model you choose. For me it doesn’t matter what power output it says on the spec sheet – this is a masterpiece of an engine. Assembled by hand from start to finish at the AMG engine plant in Affalterbach. It’s a place where the passion and precision is tangible. You see it in the facilities and in the surgical attention to detail that the technicians use. 

 

If anyone dares to try and tell me that a car not made in Italy can never have the same amount of passion engineered in then I will gladly tell them just how wrong they are. 

 

The engine itself has a dry sump which allowed the engineers to place it lower in the chassis thus lowering the centre of gravity. The transmission is located on the rear axle to further improve weight distribution. Get under the skin and you see that everything here is made and placed with performance in mind. Everything here matters and everything is present for a reason. 

 

 

                                                                                  

 

 

Perhaps it gets even better as you head towards the rear of the GT. The passenger cabin pops up to its early peak before dropping back down towards the rear deck elegantly; the character lines blend into the flared wheel arches further emphasising the performance which lies within. 

 

The rear spoiler will raise automatically at higher speeds but this can be raised from within the cabin for posing purposes. Personally, I prefer it when the spoiler is flush with the bodywork yet in the office it appears that I’m the only one that thinks so. What do you think? 

 

Of course, a GT needs to be good at grand touring; at the touch of a button and the boot will pop open. There’s room for golf clubs or some weekend bags if you are taking the car to stretch its legs at its birthplace of the Nürburgring. 

 

Step inside the cabin which gives you a tremendous view of the bonnet stretching and arching away; you sit close to the rather upright windscreen and have narrow A-pillars which makes visibility good. Sitting low to the ground yet close to the glass gives a great sense of speed as you close in on the horizon. The car’s infotainment is controlled in the centre with the touch sensitive trackpad. Pre-facelift models have their infotainment operated by a touchpad and wheel. One of my favourite things about this cabin is how the vehicle control buttons are laid out with four buttons on each side of the transmission tunnel – this genuinely is just to mimic the layout of a V8 and is a key design feature for our AMG GT range. I like that. 

 

 

                                                                                   

 

It’s almost like being in the cockpit of an F-111 Aardvark strike bomber. Make sure you like your passenger because you sit quite close. There are buttons for the heated seats in the roof which would look at home in the flight deck of an aircraft too. The seats look great and feel great too – wrapping around your body and keeping you in place when you put the car through its paces. 

 

You’re going to want to. It’s nice to see the GT sitting stationary but to me it’s like looking at a lion in a zoo – this is no place for the car to spend its lifeUnlock it and get in.  

 

The starter button flashes as if it’s yearning to fire up all eight cylinders and let the world know about its presence; I suggest you take the GT’s hint. Listen to the initial bellow as the engine roars into life. I could be here for weeks talking about the mixture of earth-shaking bass notes, barks, howls, pops and thunderclaps that sing from those 8 cylinders. The sound systems are rather good but this V8 truly is music to my ears. 

 

I challenge anyone to find me a location that could make the GT look out of place. The design simply flows like liquid through whatever setting it finds itself in.  

 

 

                                                                                  

 

 

How does it handle? Let me start by saying you have to be alert when driving the GT. It’s more direct than the Royal Mail. It is a conscious, sentient beingThis is a car that you need to learn and you need to get into a rhythm withPut it this way - if you try to sing Bohemian Rhapsody when the car wants to sing We Will Rock You then you might not get along; get on song and read from the same hymn sheet and any journey will become an incredible harmony.  

 

Trust me, listen to the car, feed into what it tells you through the steering wheel. Trust the machine. Talk to it because it will talk to you. Once you’ve got through the introductions and polite small talk all you need to do is find yourself on a beautiful stretch of road and…enjoy. 

 

It’s a light car, tipping the scales around the 1500kg mark which is about the same as my SLK but the GT S that I drove most recently pumps out 503 bhp and a very useful 650 nm of torque. Needless to say any member of the GT family doesn’t hang around. The engine is quite progressive – you ride the wave of torque up through the rev range towards the red line before shifting gears more than twice as fast as you can blink. This kind of relentless acceleration is quite addictive with 60 mph on the clock just 3.5 seconds after setting off. The top speed in all models are around the 200 mph markThat could be described as adequate. Stuttgart to Berlin shouldn’t take too long. 

 

What flavours of AMG GT are available? 

 

Buying brand new the range is made up of the GT, GT Roadster, GT C Roadster, GT R and GT Black Series. GT C and GT R models get the rather impressive four wheel steering allowing the rear wheels to turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels at low speeds to increase manoeuvrability and make the car as willing and quick to turn as a dragonfly; at higher speeds the rear axle turns in the same direction as the front to improve high speed stability. 

 

If you want uncompromising performance but the ability to carry the entire family with you then look no further than the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC+ - or the GT 4-door for short. 

 

 

                                                                                  

 

It’s quite something. The GT 4-door is simply mesmerising and completely recalibrated my brain after having a couple of days in it. I’ve not driven anything quite as relentless, devastatingly fast yet civilised and usable as that before. Inevitably the question has been asked if the GT 4-door is worthy of carrying the GT name on its bumper.  

 

The answer is as simple as this: yes. Yes with a capital F. 

 

When you come to the end of a journey in the four door the car should have re-wired your brain to the point where you can only speak fluent Portuguese. If it hasn’t had that effect then you haven’t driven it properly so get back in it and see what it can do. I implore you. 

 

Back to the two door coupe. It’s a GT in the truest sense of the term with its supermodel stunning looks and breath-taking performance. Everything here feels like it’s here for a reason and many years after the reveal it still looks brand new and forever captivates me whenever I see one. 

 

If I could, which one would I take? A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit AMG’s Affalterbach headquarters; upon arrival we were greeted by then-CEO of Mercedes-AMGMr Ola Källenius. As sharp as a guillotine, incredibly knowledgeable and with a firm belief in every word he said. He told us that after spending some time with a customer who already had two SLS AMGs in their garage the customer asked if they could order another five. The answer was yes, of course, but why another five? The customer responded: “So I can drive a different one for each day of the week.” 

 

That is why it’s a good thing that my budget doesn’t quite stretch to seven AMG GTs or else my buying logic would be exactly the same. But if it had to be one it would be the GT C Roadster; the swelled hips of the widebody GT are enticing and intoxicating. Throw in the mesmerising four wheel steering and the limitless headroom from dropping the roof and you have me drooling more than my friends would be at the sight of an open, all-inclusive bar. 

 

 

                                                                                     

 

The GT doesn’t fly an anarchy flag from its bedroom window, nor does it think that covering its neighbours house in egg and flour is particularly funny. This isn’t some unruly, bad tempered, angry machine that will drive in any direction you want provided it’s sideways; the car has a degree with first class honours in crossing continents and devouring miles of motorways or motor racing circuits. 

 

It also has a master’s degree in turning fuel into a symphony of noise and encouraging you to listen to this incredible soundtrack again and again.