- The Mercedes-AMG GT C is something of a dying breed: a two-seat European GT car with a massive engine.
- Last year, I sampled the Mercedes-AMGGT C in New York City and suburban New Jersey.
- This is one stylish beast of a car that serves up excellent bang for the buck.
What kind of person are you? Do you like high-performance cars? Do you prefer it if they cost a lot of money and have the engine where the engine is supposed to be, right up front under the hood? Do you think back seats are a waste of space?
Well, then, you’re in a narrow demographic with precious few vehicles to choose from. If it must be ‘Merican, look no farther than the Corvette and get yourself some incredible performance at an amazing value. If money’s no object, say hello to the $US475,000 Ferrari 812 Superfast.
If you move down the cost ladder, Aston Martin will be happy to sell you a Vantage, and Jaguar will put an F-Type R in your garage. England for the win!
Move across the channel and you’re left with … Mercedes-Benz, and only Mercedes-Benz. The German mad scientists at the carmaker’s AMG performance division have given us the AMG GT, a two-seat, grand-touring machine with an insane engine and an abundance of style.
Last year, hot off reviewing the Ferrari 812 Superfast, I was in a mood to dig into what I thought of another powerful GT car with seating for just a pair of humans, so I returned to a test stint I enjoyed with the AMG GT. I had the car for about a week, and I drove it between New York City and New Jersey and roamed the suburban byways of the Garden State.
Here’s what I thought.
Photos by Jessica Tyler.
Hello, beautiful dinosaur. In “Brilliant Blue Metallic,” the Mercedes-AMG GT C is a stunning example of what the storied Aufrecht-Melcher-Groszaspach performance brand is capable of.
The car is what I’m into right now. Two seats, long hood, low stance, massive engine. The AMG GT is sometimes compared with similarly spec’d Porsche 911s, but you have to remember that the AMG has the motor up front. Where it’s supposed to be.
O. M. G. This thing is just staggeringly sharp — not something you’ll always hear me say about Mercedes-Benz automobiles.
The front end is obviously the defining portion of the entire design. Never a fan of Mercedes fascias, I was won over by the AMG GT’s without a fight.
Yes, the badge is bold.
I hope you don’t have a problem with that.
The classic M-B badge is also present. Overkill? Maybe, but who cares?
The rear end, with that smoothly sloping fastback and ample curves, exudes power and style.
Nothing wrong with those menacing exhaust ports, either.
I would prefer that the taillights were in better harmony with the headlights, but that’s a minor complaint.
AMG badging on the GT’s rear …
… along with the GT C designation. The GT is for “Grand Touring,” while the “C” represents an upgrade to the AMG GT’s performance specification.
Here’s what folks don’t like about Mercedes’ design: it’s extra. The AMG GT is, for the most part, an exercise in powerful restraint. This vent advertising the twin-turbo V8 in shimmery chrome is just about the only superfluous detail on the car.
Enough with the succulent aesthetics! On to the engine!
The 4.0-litre V8 rocks twin turbochargers, making 550 horsepower with 502 pound-feet of torque.
As a motor, it’s simply brilliant. The power surges with authority, and if you think those turbochargers will lag the boost, you are mistaken. The carbon-fibre engine cover adds $US1,500 to the price.
Here’s the Mercedes-AMG M178 Series engine out of the car.
This example, as with all AMG GT motors, was hand-built in Germany.
The carbon-ceramic brakes are supremely self-confident — and a nearly $US9,000 option.
Numerous controls are housed in a console between the seats, including the somewhat awkwardly located shifter for the excellent seven-speed automatic transmission. In brushed metal, this entire unit looks like sculpture.
Let’s take a closer look at the interior, rendered in saddle-brown-and-black Nappa leather, along with a fair amount of carbon-fibre trim.
The quilting in the seats is to be expected from Mercedes. It adds a touch of class.
So does the precise topstitching.
The steering wheel is stout and ample. Not my thing (I’d rather have something thinner), but the feel is wonderful.
And again, you can gaze upon the Mercedes badge.
The analogue-digital gauges are recessed in deep binnacles.
Instrumentation, otherwise, is rather minimal, and the infotainment system occupies prime real estate on the dashboard.
The COMAND system is quite good, although it’s operated using a combination of knob and trackpad, along with buttons, that takes a few days to get the hang of.
The system makes use of scrollable apps. In my testing, the GPS navigation performed well, and Bluetooth device pairing was effortless. The USB/AUX ports allows for direct smartphone hookup.
You can also drill down into the AMG GT’s assorted drive modes. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available.
The rest of the GT’s controls are very minimal — they almost get lost in the carbon-fibre trim surrounding the cupholders.
The premium Burmester audio system is one of the best in the business. I put it through its paces and concluded that it’s the winner among sound systems in two-doors with massive engines up front.
Let’s quickly discuss cargo space.
It isn’t great — but it isn’t awful, either. Lose the rear seats and you obviously have more capacity. Cars like this are supposed to be for high-speed weekend runs to romantic resorts, so as long as you have space for two carry-ons, you’re golden.
So what’s the verdict?
The AMG GT C isn’t going to save you any money at the pump. Fuel economy is a mere 15 mph city/21 highway/17 combined, and it requires premium gas. But bear in mind that the reason you put petrol into the car’s tank is to be able to stomp the accelerator and blast to 60 mph in under four seconds, on the way to a top speed that tickles 200 mph.
The AMG GT C is a throwback machine with an appetite for drama and luxury to spare. It’s often pitted against the likes of the Porsche 911 Carrera GTS, and while the specs and sticker price are comparable, this is really a car for a person who likes to dress up before they slip behind the wheel. Not quite Aston Martin dressed-up, but well-attired, in a league with the Jaguar F-Type R.
Rear-wheel steering helps the AMG GT negotiate corners, but what’s most fun in this thing is the straight-line velocity, whether it’s accessed via the straight automatic transmission or while using the paddle shifters to flick through the dual-clutched gearbox. Then the point is to keep going fast. Speed limits on American highways, in this context, are a downer. Yes, I hauled along at the legal limit. But I dreamed of roads where I could fly along for mile after mile at 100 mph, just like in the old days when that’s what you did with your luxurious and powerful grand-touring cars.
So, a German muscle car? Sort of. But also a German Corvette, with European manners. In a Vette, you’re intimidated by the speed produced by, say, the 650-horsepower motor on the Z06; in the AMG GT, you can sink into the speed – it’s actually relaxing.
The AMG GT C is also simply flat-out suave. It’s a gentleman’s or gentlewoman’s car. It prizes good tailoring. But it also isn’t afraid to throw a punch. It’s also a teeny bit gaudy, but not in the blingy way that some other Mercedes are. For what it is, a serious beast, it’s reserved.
I did throw the car into a few corners, and the rear-wheels steering assist did appear to aid in maintaining the AMG GT’s composure. The platform is track-worthy, to be sure.
BUT … what about driving around all slow and cool? Well, that works, too. That’s what I like about this breed of automobile – you have the speed and the power on command. But if you just want to tackle some boulevard cruising, you can go for it. OK, the suspension is rather stiffer than what many might favour for cruising. But that’s the trade-off for the car remaining crisp at speed.
So, is the AMG GT C worth almost $US170,000? It most definitely is. In fact, it might be a bargain – this much car, this much style, this much engineering? Just gazing upon it, I’d say $US200,000, easy.
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