MERCEDES-AMG GT S

GT ONCE STOOD FOR ‘GRAND TOURER’, BUT NOT WHEN AMG GETS INVOLVED

ALEX INWOOD

T W E N T Y C A R O F T H E Y E A R S I X T E E N

Stage TWO

“WHAT A MONSTER! WHAT A FEROCIOUSLY FAST CAR” GLENN BUTLER

T W E N T Y C A R O F T H E Y E A R S I X T E E N

Stage TWO

F THERE was an award for Sound of the Year – and many who drove this bright yellow AMG GT S think there should be – you’d be looking at the winner. Of the 2016 COTY field, nothing came within a V8 decibel of the AMG’s fuel-gurgling, eardrum-shattering soundtrack, which made even the 5.0-litre V8-powered Lexus RC-F seem timid in comparison.

You can forget fears that bolting a pair of turbos onto AMG’s flagship supercar has robbed it of its character. Yet even with the twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 switched off, the GT S oozes menace, thanks to a design that marries aggression with beauty, especially when viewed from behind.

Admittedly yellow isn’t its best colour, nor is the Edition 1 version’s fixed rear wing, but imagine it in a lighter metallic. It’s a more cohesive and pleasing effort than that of the car it unofficially replaces – AMG’s gullwing-doored SLS. Both were penned by British designer Mark Fetherston, but the GT’s tighter wheelbase and shorter nose give its proportions a greater sense of harmony.

As good as it looks, it’s a credit to AMG’s engine boffins that the one thing that dominates the GT’s driving experience is what lies under its long, wide bonnet. Punching out 375kW and 650Nm from 1750-4750rpm, AMG’s front/midmounted 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is an absolute monster. Flattening the right pedal makes very long straights suddenly quite short, with the GT’s tidal wave of grunt only increasing in ferocity with every cracking upshift from the seven-speed dual clutch. And did I mention the sound?

Even better was confirmation that while the AMG GT S is just as ferocious as the old SLS in a straight line (0-100kmh takes 3.8sec), it’s nowhere near as intimidating to drive. The steering is accurate and precise, the suspension firm and flat, and the chassis balanced and predictable.

This is a character trait helped by the AMG’s superb ESC calibration. In ESC Sport the electronics give you the right amount of slip to enhance the fun, yet are seamless and fast-acting enough to ensure you don’t dirty your undies.

The downside is that such finely honed smooth- I road dynamics bring severe compromises. Over Lang Lang’s rough road section, the GT’s ride was unforgiving, and on public roads it’s even firmer.

More than once I found myself reaching for the dynamic damper button, only to discover it was already in Comfort. Occupants feel every lump, bump and crease; a sensation heightened by the fact the seats are so close to the rear axle. And while this does make the driver feel connected to the road, it isn’t ideal in a car with GT in its name, suggesting it should be able to tour grandly.

Still, there are worse places to get pummelled about in. The GT’s cabin is snug and beautifully appointed with a rich mix of materials dominated by supple leather and exposed carbonfibre.

Supercars like this tend to struggle against COTY’s value criteria and the law of diminishing returns, but there’s little doubt the GT’s rock-star exterior and expensively trimmed interior reflect its near-$300K asking price.

The only interior complaints were a few squeaks and rattles, and the driver select system, which unlike every lesser AMG doesn’t separate the steering setting from the dampers and chassis modes. While the tiller is quick and accurate (2.2 turns lock-to-lock), it’s light and less feelsome in Comfort. Switching to Sport or Sport+ brings welcome weight, but stiffens the already firm ride.

Slotting the steering in Sport and the dampers in Comfort would be the sweet spot, but it’s simply not possible.

Which brings us to efficiency. This was never going to be an AMG strong suit, and the GT’s 15.5L/100km road-loop fuel average cemented its place as the thirstiest car of the 2016 field.

So there are flaws, which is why the AMG GT S fell short of claiming our highest honour. But these shortcomings don’t detract from what is undeniably a brilliant piece of engineering. What AMG has created is loud, brash and absolutely dripping with personality. It’s also proudly individual. No other supercar currently on sale delivers such a unique blend of head-turning looks, ball-busting V8 noise and hot-rod fury.

And for that we are all grateful.

BODY

Type 2-door coupe, 2 seats Boot capacity 350 litres Weight 1570kg

DRIVETRAIN

Layout front engine (north-south), RWD Engine 3982cc V8 twin-turbo (375kW/650Nm) Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch

CHASSIS

Tyres 265/35R19 (f), 295/30R20 (r) ADR81 fuel consumption 9.4L/100km CO2 emissions 219g/km Collision mitigation .

Crash rating not tested Prices $295,000

F I R E A N D B R I M S T O N E

The GT’s 3982cc V8 is essentially two of the 2.0-litre turbo fours used in the AMG A45 mated together. Codenamed M178 and weighing 209kg, the dry-sump 4.0-litre unit debuts AMG’s ‘hot vee’ technology where the twin turbos are mounted inside the V configuration to improve packaging, response and to lower emissions. Two tunes are currently offered: 340kW/600Nm in the standard GT not sold in Oz and the 375kW/650Nm version in the GT S.

“AMAZING DRIVETRAIN AND FREAKING BRILLIANT IN ESC SPORT” NATHAN PONCHARD