Mercedes and AMG bring us the sports car we knew they were capable of in the Mercedes-AMG GT. It is shaking up the high performance sportscar market with a combination of extreme power, sleek styling and all the combined know-how of the Affalterbach and Sindelfingen works. Both Coupe and Roadster variants are being offered and there's now quite a choice in terms of engine output.
'Mercedes builds a 911', screamed all of the enthusiast mags, who then stopped screaming that when they saw this car. The AMG GT is quite a different thing, power being delivered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 driving the rear wheels. The powerplant has an unusual layout, with the turbochargers not attached to the outside of the engine like most ancillaries, but housed inside the 'V' of the V8 - something AMG calls the 'hot inside V' configuration. At present, there are five distinct models on offer. The standard GT generates 476bhp and 600Nm of torque and is offered in Coupe or open-topped Roadster guise. Next up in the hierarchy is the GT S Coupe, a model good for 510bhp and 650Nm. Both are hugely quick, as you'd expect: the GT gets to 62mph in 4 seconds and runs on to 189mph, while the GT S edges it, recording 3.8 seconds to 62mph and a top speed of 193mph. If for some reason that's not fast enough, the Roadster model is available in a 557bhp GT C guise. While the Coupe is offered in a 585bhp GT R variant that was race-tuned on the Nurburgring Nordschleife.
Across the range, drive goes to the rear via a seven-speed AMG DCT-SPEEDSHIFT dual clutch gearbox. This rear transaxle system offers decent weight distribution, with 47 per cent of the car's weight up front and 53 per cent aft. Depending on the model, the transmission offers up to five different driving modes: 'controlled efficiency', 'sport', 'sport plus', 'individual' and 'race' - the latter offered exclusively on the GT S. All versions are fitted with a standard locking differential. The GT receives a mechanical unit, while in a move that might be opposite to that which you expected, the GT S is fitted with an electronic version. The GT S also gets active driveline mounts which continuously isolate the mass effects of the engine and transaxle.
Buyers choose between Coupe and Roadster body styles, but either way, the styling of the AMG GT follows a definite theme, the long bonnet and squat glasshouse of the Coupe version we tried being an evolution of the SLR and SLS models. It's a subtler and gentler shape than both though, but not without purpose, with squat haunches suggesting all its power is balled up at the driven wheels. From the rear, there are elements of Porsche 911 in its curves which may or may not be deliberate, but it's a car with nary a bad angle. It's just a shame that we have to do without the SLS's magnificent gullwing doors.
Like the old SLS, the GT is built around a lightweight aluminium body structure that, in this case, weighs a mere 231 kilos. Drop inside and you're greeted with a broadly sweeping dash with a hugely chunky centre console. The sightlines at first seem a bit pinched but the driving position is lovely and Mercedes has fitted a beautifully tactile steering wheel. There's even an element of practicality too, Mercedes realising that cars in this class are built to be used rather than looked at. The rear hatch allows access to a luggage compartment with a capacity of some 350-litres.
The Mercedes-AMG GT is getting all manner of rivals very worried indeed. It's got everything from a Nissan GT-R to a Bentley Continental GT in its gunsights and the AMG team at Affalterbach are extremely confident of success. Perhaps the most difficult thing is pinning down exactly what this car is. That might sound trite; it's clearly a two-seater supercar but this market is driven by nuance. Enthusiasts are clear about what differentiates, say, an Aston Martin Vantage from a Jaguar F-TYPE R. Where the AMG GT might struggle is in trying to be all things to all customers.
If that's the extent of its problems, Mercedes will be delighted. The fact that this car isn't marketed as a Mercedes-Benz, instead carrying the 'Mercedes-AMG' badging, speaks volumes. This is a new front in the performance car market. It might well be a very successful one too.Click here to find out more about our Mercedes-AMG GT range