Starting with the Mercedes-AMG GT, the AMG division is shifting philosophy, providing a model in the conventional segment of sports cars, which rivals by both price and performance the Porsche 911 range. Test review with the top variant AMG-GT S along the Transfagarasan, the most beautiful road in the world.
In September 2014, together with converting the name into Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes’ AMG division introduced their second own model, called the GT, coming in the spot left empty by the SLS AMG. Tech-wise, the two models are siblings, as the GT carries over the transaxle platform type from the SLS AMG, as well as the steering and the front axle. Apart from the SLS AMG, the platform is shortened and the rear axle, the mechanical locking differential in the GT and electronic locking diff in the GT S are completely new. As for the positioning, the SLS AMG and the AMG GT are completely different, since the AMG GT is by approximately 50,000 euros cheaper, therefore stepping into the territory of the 911 range. Dropping out the gullwings, which were costly in making, and the gauging of some parts permitted the massive downpricing.
And beyond all these, there is also the new philosophy of the Mercedes-AMG division, which the new head Tobias Moers is giving a clean-cut to: “When you are building a sports brand, you have to step into the traditional segment of the sports cars, as this is the one providing awareness. That is the reason why we decided to set the GT this way. We wanted a more approachable car. It’s not of much help to build 100 super sports cars in a year, without anybody seeing them on the road. It is though vital that the brand is seen out there on the road.”
This is why, in the years to come, we will not be seeing an exorbitant exclusive model like the Mercedes SLR McLaren, sold for the price of 452,000 euros back in 2003. Not only the positioning changed, but the Mercedes’ sports cars’ character as well. If the SLR was a super luxurious GT, the SLS AMG came with the more aggressive personality of a sheer sports car, closer to the particularity of the Silver Arrows of the 50s. These genes were also inherited by the new AMG GT, which is now descending upon the Porsche 911 armada, barefacedly and bluntly.
And by-the-way, with the official presentation of the AMG GT on the 4th of September 2014, Mercedes also revealed the new pièce de résistance of the AMG division – the new 4.0 biturbo V8 engine. Just like the AMG C 63, Mercedes is offering the new AMG GT in two power guises: 476 HP for the AMG GT (115,430 euros), the model rivaling the Porsche 911/911 GTS and 510 HP for the AMG GT S top model (134,351 euros) as a rival for Porsche 911 Turbo.
The latter accompanied us on our 600-kilometer test along the Transfagarasan, the most beautiful road in the whole wide world. Subjectively speaking, the design of the AMG GT S is more appealing than that of the Porsche 911, at a glance. Though the gauge measures are comparable with those of the Porsche 911, the Mercedes kept the inveterate long hood together with the wide side air intakes with the V8 biturbo lettering – an icon of the silver arrows. From the B pillar backwards, the silhouette with the wide hips and the broad tailgate, as well as the elongated LED taillights are hinting at the Porsche 911. It is challenging to find a more effective aerodynamic shape than that of the Zuffenhausen-based rival.
With 4,546 mm in length, 1,939 mm in height and 1,288 mm in width, the AMG GT S is by 40 mm longer, by 59 mm wider and by 8 mm lower than the Porsche 911 Turbo. But the proportions are completely different. At the first glance, the Porsche is offering more space, since it also comes with the small seats behind the front seats, as it is a 2+2 seater. The Mercedes features the strict two-seats layout, but the space behind the seats is very roomy. The feeling of restrained space in the Mercedes is also caused by the massive and very tall central tunnel, accommodating all the controls for the AMG Drive Unit. The cockpit is one of the kind in the GT, but, in order to keep costs around the Porsche 911 mark, the Mercedes called on several components from the new C-Class, as there is, for instance, the Comand Online navigation system with a 8.4-inch display, controller and touchpad (which comes optional for 3,510.50 euros), with the Audio 20 CD with a 7-inch display would be standardly fit. From the C-Class, we would also recall the climate instrument cluster, but the rest is AMG original. The AMG seats are a work of art in terms of ergonomics and artistry. Covered up in leather and Alcantara divided by red stitching, with metallic inlay under the headrest and with the AMG lettering in the backrest, the seats have been placed very low in the car and offers an excellent side support. The thick three-spoke steering wheel covered in Alcantara and featuring a flat bottom provides a good grip. The leather and the Alcantara in the dashboard are flowing towards the central tunnel, as the lettering on the armrest recalls the AMG origin of the small town of Affalterbach. The red dials with the red line in the revmeter starting at 7,200 rpm together with the speedometer graded up to 360 km/h are sending chills down your spine.
The central tunnel is accommodating the most important controls for the AMG adaptive drive train adjustment. Everything can be adjusted.
The response of the engine, of the gearbox and of the steering can be adjusted in five modes: Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race and Individual. Just like in other AMG models, the ESP comes with 3-stage settings – ESP on, ESP off and Handling Mode, while the suspension comes with further three modes – Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. Even the noise can be adjusted thanks to a 2-flap system, placed in the exhaust layout. Unexpected for a sports car, an easily accessible widely generous 350-liter trunk is revealed from under the tailgate. Even though it is not a long distance runner, but a pure-blooded horse, two people have got enough luggage space.
- An engine with a huge torque in the mid-range rev
- Instantaneous engine response
- Very fast gearbox
- Superb dynamics in the Sport+ and Race modes
- Appealing design
- Pure sports car character
- Attractive pricing in its class
- Exciting sounds system
MAX vs MIN
- High sound level at highway speed
- Firm suspension even in the Comfort mode
The long hood is beyond design and the key for placing the engine far behind the front axle. The transaxle system means a front engine and a rear gearbox mounted in the very same case with the electronic locking differential, standardly fit in the GT S. Apart from the AMG C 63 S, the air filter is mounted ahead of the engine and not above it, as they went for the dry sump lubrication instead of the wet sump lubrication system in the C 63. Therefore, Mercedes managed to place the engine 55 mm lower, also lowering the center of gravity, which is vital for a sports car. The engine is mated with the gearbox via a cardan shaft made of carbon fiber, weighing just 3,9 kilograms. As a matter of fact, the AMG GT S has a relatively low kerbweight of 1.645 kg. The hybrid aluminium chassis only weighs 231 kg and the biturbo V8 engine tips the scale at just 209 kg, as it is the lightest in its class.
The best V8 engine in the under 200.000 euros price category
The new V8 biturbo engine (M178 code name) is an out-of-this world breakthrough, especially mated with the dual clutch AMG Speedshift DCT automatic transmission, exclusively reserved for the AMG GT.
The mounting of the turbos inside the V, blowing by a maximum 1.2 bar supercharging pressure, provides an extremely spontaneous response. From the Sport+ mode up, any push of the throttle pedal is accompanied by a virtually instantaneous response. Beyond the fulminatory speeding up, it dazzles by its pulling force (there are 650 Nm on offer at 1.750 rpm) and especially by the huge torque in the mid-rev range. The customary sprints from 80 and 120 km/h are all to the last degree fast, but you have the exact same feeling even when accelerating from 150 km/h to 180 km/h. In the Race mode, the engine response is fabulous, and the gearbox shifts by the speed of light even in the automatic mode, without conveying any of that snatching from the PDK gearbox of the Porsche. The gearbox can permanently shift into the manual mode if you press the button in the central tunnel or temporarily from the shifting paddles behind the wheel.
The flexibility of the new biturbo V8 is dazzling. It gloriously pulls in the mid-rev range, but keeps its outstanding raciness even above 5.000 rpm up to the red line placed at 7,200 rpm, by 1,000 rpm higher than the maximum power rev. This is definitely the best V8 engine in its price category of under 200,000 euros.
With a weight distribution of 47/53% between the front and the rear axle and a much lowered center of gravity, plus a negative camber angle, the understeering comes close to zero, while the grip is exceptional. In the Transfagarasan bends, the AMG GT S feels like a kart and that is the territory where the Sport+ and Race modes prove all the new Mercedes sports car can do.
Pure sport character in line with ’50 Silver Arrows tradition
The Sport+ an Race modes bring the same suspension and steering setting, as the response of the engine and of the gearbox is changed in the extreme Race mode and the ESP automatically switches into the Handling Mode (the ESP handling mode can also be manually clutched by pressing the stage adjustment button of the ESP). In the Race mode, racing along the winding road at Balea, the AMG GT S bends in like a race kart and the ESP Handling Mode allows wider slides of the rear, as the feedback is predictable and progressive thanks to the electronic diff lock, which gradually cuts in.
In the Race mode, the engine stays in the upper rev range and the gearbox keeps the lowest gear and the highest sharpness possible. In the Sport+ and Race modes, the heartstrings are worth tuning to the max. The press of the engine sound button starts the variable exhaust nozzles, which tune out a baritone-like deep low sound.
Subjectively speaking, the steering felt a bit too light in the Sport+ and Race modes, which, in the first instance, makes you restrain yourself from pushing the boundaries of the car. But, after two or three bends feeling the exceptional grip, you gain trust enough to push the limits. The rear grip hold can turn better by the help of the mobile rear wing, coming out in the Race mode, starting 70 km/h and goes back in at 30 km/h, featuring a different inclination apart from the other modes. In all other modes, it comes out at higher speeds than 120 km/h and goes back in at 80 km/h, but it can be operated manually, by pressing the button in the roof, right above the rear-view mirror.
AMG is optionally offering an AMG Dynamic Plus package, which widens the rev array of the maximum torque from 1.750 to 5.000 rpm (up against 1.750 to 4.750 rpm), a camber angle with higher negative figures and a changed steering.
The test car was fitted with the standard 255/35 R19 tires at the front and 295/35 R 19 at the rear, set up on 19-inch wheel and standard brakes, easily recognizable by the red calipers. Despite the intensive demand along the Transfagarasan, the 390 mm discs brakes up front and the 360 mm discs at the rear showed no fatigue, as their endurance for intensive load was purely remarkable. For 8,618 euros, you can order ceramic disc brakes which feature a 402 mm wider diameter at the front and still the 360 mm diameter at the rear, with bronze calipers.
In the Comfort mode, a start&stop system cuts in together with the sailing function, but the highway fuel consumption of 7,8 l/100 km can’t possibly be reached, considering that the day of the test was a 38-degree dog day in the shade, with the air conditioning fully working. Considering this, a highway fuel consumption below 12,5 l/100 km is not realistic. But the rivals are by no means frugal either. In extreme sporty driving, the fuel consumption reaches 25 l/100 km, but the figures are irrelevant. Anyhow, the 65-liter fuel tank provides sufficient range in the cruising mode.
The adaptive suspension can be adjusted in three modes – Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. If for the AMG C 63 S, in the Comfort mode, the most powerful C-Class converts into a comfortable cruiser, the AMG GT stays an aggressive vehicle even in the Comfort mode. The suspension stays firm for a long drive and the noise level is high, even with the engine sound system switched off. It is the only reason you might regret the SLR for. Apart from that, there is no other reason. The AMG GT S is sportier, more challenging and 3-times less expensive. By the AMG GT, Mercedes is going back to the conventional values of the silver arrows: a pure sports car, fast and relatively light.
Foto: Bogdan Paraschiv
The second AMG own model is targeting a whole different customer category than the SLR and the SLS AMG. By the AMG GT, Mercedes steps into the storm-beaten segment of the sports cars, offering a pure challenging sports car, with a design that takes your breath away. It is though, a highly aggressive vehicle with a high noise level and a firm suspension even in the Comfort mode. But that’s the spirit of its glittering predecessors and the new AMG biturbo V8 engine is the best in its class, as it turns out to be a genuine benchmark.
|Mercedes AMG GT S
|Max. output/revs (HP/rpm)
|Max. torque/revs (Nm/rpm)
|RWD, ellectronic locking diff
|7 gears, double clutch
|255/35 R19 - 295/35 R 19
|Brake discs front/rear (mm)
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h
|Max. speed (km/h)
|Fuel consumption (l/100m km)
|CO2 emissions (g/km)
|Price (euro with VAT)