The Mercedes-AMG GT S makes a dramatic impression on the road and there’s no mistaking the brand’s intentions to outshine rivals like the Porsche 911.
No doubt, Mercedes believe the GT S is on a different level compared to its cross-town rival, the 911, but it's a go to sports car for well-heeled buyers who want to (or at least look like they) drive fast.
The AMG GT isn't going to change that but it will make some Porsche owners nervous when its long front bow and menacingly wide 'Panamericana' grille flashes into view in the mirror. The GT S is properly quick but more like a sledgehammer rather than scalpel-like qualities of the 911 - the German giant hits with brutal power, sharp dynamics and most of all, exclusivity.
Vehicle Style: Super sports car
Price: $298,711 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo petrol | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 9.5 l/100km
Compared to the now defunct Mercedes-Benz SLS, the AMG GT offers a more affordable yet more capable evolution of the gullwing inspired super sports car. Priced from $298,711 the GT S isn’t cheap, but at this end of town, there’s plenty of vehicle for the money.
Standard features include 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloys with Michelin Pilot Sport rubber, adaptive suspension, electronic rear diff, performance exhaust and keyless entry.
Inside there’s a 10-speaker Burmester sound system, Nappa leather seats, panoramic sunroof, climate control, 8.4-inch infotainment system with navigation, Bluetooth, DAB+ and capability to create a WiFi hotspot.
The GT S also features some of Mercedes’ latest safety such as AEB, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring.
Underneath the long bonnet is an AMG built 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 which now, in the updated model, produces 384kW at 6250rpm and 650Nm at 4750rpm. It powers the GT S from a standstill to 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds.
- GT S: LED headlights, 19-inch front adn 20-inch rear alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, Adaptive LED headlights, Nappa leather electric seats with heating.
- Infotainment: 8.4-inch colour display, touch and button controller, USB and Aux inputs, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, 10-speaker Burmester audio
- Cargo Volume: 350 litres
It might not be a gullwing now but long doors on the rear-set cabin sling open to a wide entry and reveal a well-appointed interior which is just as dramatic and yet as refined as the exterior.
The seating position for the driver is low and can be adjusted to the perfect driver’s position along with electronically adjusted steering. The wheel has a good sporty hold on its ‘Dinamica’ microfibre hand grips with a subtle centre line for when the roads begin to twist.
Over extended driving, the standard soft Nappa leather seats were comfortable and never tiring. A large panoramic sunroof expands the feeling of space and a deep foot well for the passenger accommodates long legs comfortably.
Rather than go for the dual screen display found in some of the latest Mercedes models, the GT has a more traditional design and infuses retro curves with a jet fighter style centre console which houses buttons for the vehicle’s dynamics.
Mercedes’ ‘Comand’ infotainment control sits at an almost perfect resting hand position in it too, but the gear selector below it is a touch awkward to reach. It's not a big deal though as manual shifting is performed via solid metal steering wheel mounted paddles.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 384kW/650Nm 4.0-litre eight-cylinder twin-turbo petrol
- Transmission: Seven-speed automatic dual-clutch, rear wheel drive
- Suspension: Double wishbone front, multi-link rear w/adaptive dampers
- Brakes: 360mm ventilated front and rear discs
- Steering: Electric power steering
The AMG GT is a grand tourer which feels at home chewing up long curving roads effortlessly. And it’s docile enough when cruising or at low speed that it would make a completely viable daily driver.
We spent some time negotiating traffic and, apart from being easy to commute with, the facelifted GT is a magnet for attention – especially with the bimodal sports exhaust enabled.
Further out from Melbourne we sampled some mixed country roads where the GT S was able to stretch its legs and open its lungs. The engine’s power delivery is glorious and complimented by a sophisticated adaptive suspension and chassis which underpins razor sharp handling.
The adaptive suspension is noticeably effective in adjusting between its opposing comfort and Sport+ settings. Where some sports car’s remains too firm, the compliance in the GT S feels as though it’s been tuned to some of Australia’s rougher country roads. However, comfort suspension is firm enough with low body roll.
Moving to Sport+ the suspension is noticeably firmer but better tuned to ideal road surfaces. Combined with a rear-bias weight ratio and rear-wheel drive, Sport+ plants the car to the ground but will shuffle the rear on surfaces which aren’t pancake flat; sport mode seemed best for the poor roads we sampled north of Melbourne.
Between modes weight is added to steering which remains quick and sensitive regardless of what setting is engaged.
Driving down a fast-paced section, the steering response and feedback shone. It’s more sensitive than the average sports car but it offers perfect precision from a quick rack and sharp turn-in. The trick was adjusting to the set-back cabin, but once dialled-in the AMG GT S proves a seriously quick vehicle on both fast-flowing and tighter roads.
And much of its pace is thanks to its responsive 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 which provides plenty of torque early in its rev range. The full 384kW and 650Nm comes on a little later on but power is elastic from the get go and is joined by a wonderful soundtrack.
Gear shifts are quick and punch with enthusiasm, and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic never hesitates to engage regardless of where it will land in the rev range. The quality gear shifts are heightened by steel paddle shifters which feel solid under finger tips.
The AMG-developed twin-turbo V8 packs plenty of panache but it’s hard not to miss the naturally-aspirated engine of the old SLS. Hit the exhaust button, however, and even at idle and the sound has been perfected.
Backing up the GT S’ tremendous power and 1645kg weight are front and rear ceramic brakes which were almost immune to fatigue, offering plenty of modulation.
ANCAP Rating: The Mercedes-AMG GT has yet to be rated by ANCAP
Safety Features: The GT S is equipped with airbags (dual front, side, knee and window), electronic stability and traction control, ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, tyre pressure monitoring, rear park sensors, and a rear view camera, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The AMG GT takes aim at rivals such as the Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-Type. While the former doesn’t have the presence of either the Jag and GT S, it’s one of the quickest cars for the money. The 911 Carrera GTS Coupe almost matches the GT S pound for pound and is the better driver’s car and its involvement with the road is hard to match.
But the GT S remains brutally quick and offers a dramatic guttural soundtrack that’s a perfect match to its athletic build.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The GT S is a grand tourer with plenty of attitude, but it doesn’t have to be driven hard to be appreciated. When it is driven enthusiastically, though, it impresses with sharp handling and more than enough power.
The GT S may not be quickest super sports of its type, but that’s not really not point – it’s a brute in a tailored suit.