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Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Mercedes-AMG GT is a Symphony of Destruction: First Drive



Where do I start with Mercedes’ AMG division? For the most part, it’s filled with a bunch of German death metal and black magic engineers. Given this undeniable fact (Google it), things that come out of the Affalterbach factory often tend to be too much for even the devil himself to handle.
For years, AMG vehicles have been looked at as big hammers for small nails. Grossly overpowered, untamable beasts that would eat tires at an alarming rate of speed. Sort of like what Jeremy Clarkson found out when he tested the last generation C63 in Spain. But then Mercedes and AMG went about building something less shouty and more refined.


German Muscle No More

Instead of going after the German muscle car crowd, AMG threw away years of muscle car engineering and squared off with the Porsche 911. No longer naturally aspirated, no longer the massive 6.2-liter V8, no longer the big, brash and flashy cars of old— the AMG GT is a new beast.

Unlike AMG cars of yore, the GT is refined and composed. You could drive from Munich to Monaco, flog around the Formula 1 track, and then drive back to Munich without so much as a hiccup. It’s the perfect culmination of both a GT car and a sports car— somehow the AMG engineers found a way to not hamper either of those characteristics in one vehicle.


With that mix of refinement and handling comes a third selling point: handling. The Michelin Pilot Super Sports are super sticky, and when you move the steering a quarter of an inch in any direction, the GT reacts. Rather than being terrifying, it does so with a needle-like precision that allows the driver to be in complete control and expertly place the nose wherever they expect it to be.

But there was one issue. The steering in general is brilliant, and you could place the car’s front wheels on a dime in the apex of any corner you want. There’s just not enough feel coming through the steering to be absolutely confident about it. That light steering is great when you’re trying to park the big nose of the car in a tight shopping lot, but on the track, I wished it would have loaded up more as speeds and ferocity of the turns increased. Hopefully Mercedes tightens this up going forward.


Turbo Squared

While the ride in the AMG GT is luxurious at low speeds and over bumps — seriously it feels like an S-Class — it definitely gets up and goes much quicker than a luxury car. In the AMG GT S we tested at Road America, the engine pumped out over 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty enough to get up to 143 mph on the back straight.

That tidal wave of power comes from Mercedes’ new 4.0-liter twin-turbo “hot V” engine. The “hot V” refers to twin-turbos located in the valley, or V of the engine, this in turn helps reduce turbo lag in the power band. Mercedes states that this is for “seamless thrust,” and let me tell you, it is absolutely seamless.

Not once did I feel any hint of lag between when I pushed my foot into the floor— it was just a sudden violence of power coming from the rear wheels. But then again, Mercedes and AMG have never had a problem with power.


This new AMG, then, is something wholly new in construction and heritage. It’s an AMG, which means it has limitless power and torque. But it’s also a Mercedes, which means its interior is as plush and nice to be in as an S-Class. Toss in a more precise steering setup, and you’re dealing with a real competitor the likes the Porsche 911 hasn’t seen in some time.

A properly-built 911 fighter would be something you could use every day, but still wring out on the track when it comes down to it. While the AMG GT is such a car, it’s more than that. It’s a bridge between Mercedes and AMG. It’s the best of both worlds and an astonishing piece of German engineering. 8/10 would hoon again.



Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8
Horsepower: 503
0-60: 3.9 seconds
Price (base): $129,000


Not a hint of turbo lag
Amazing ride
More power than you need


Sincere lack of steering feel
The cockpit feels cramped
Not enough gullwing doors