A True Driver’s Car: The Mercedes-Benz AMG GT

Just a short decade ago, we of the collective automotive world were scratching our heads and wondering: when will Mercedes-Benz, known for fast and cushy rides, deliver a proper, potent driver’s car? The time is now.

Somewhere behind the minimalist glass and steel walls of AMG HQ in Affalterbach, Germany, bigwigs and engineers have been expending a level of brain activity that could qualify for a Nobel Prize in Performance Cars, if such a thing existed (which it should). The subject of all that brainpower: the Mercedes-AMG GT.

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Just a short decade ago, we of the collective automotive world were scratching our heads and wondering: when will Mercedes-Benz, known for fast and cushy rides, deliver a proper, potent driver’s car? The steeply priced, split-personality Mercedes-McLaren SLR failed to qualify in spite of everything that was poured into it; but what followed was nothing short of epiphanic, a day-and-night, Bruce Wayne-to-Batman transition. The SLS Black and the C63 Coupe signified a dramatic shift from luxurious cruising to true sports car performance. And the next steps in this evolution, the new 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT and GT S, take things to an even more sinister level. Receiving an invitation to drive these beasts was like an invitation to a dinner of ambrosia and single malt at Wayne Manor.

Consider the GT a more focused weapon, meant to destroy a wider array of competitive targets (the Porsche 911 Turbo, Jaguar F-Type R Coupe and Aston Martin Vantage V8 S). The GT is both smaller and less expensive than the SLS AMG. Its design is both aggressive and elegant, something few cars like the Jag, can pull off. The hood is long like a proper GT, behind a wide but not overly dramatic grille. It’s flanked by cat eye-style LED headlamps that angle upwards, consistent with the arresting fenders. The gaping front air intakes speak to the car’s intentions: fast laps and hot brakes. Though the nose shows some SLS DNA, it’s a cleaner, tighter design.

Consider the GT a more focused weapon, meant to destroy a wider array of competitive targets.

The profile of the GT is far more cohesive than its big brother. The cut lines in the body disappear halfway into the length of the door rather than extending clear across it, giving it a softer look that’s easier on the eyes. This matches the greenhouse, which tapers cleanly into the tail, not unlike the fastback style of the 911. Plus, without the gull wing of the SLS, the GT’s conventional swing doors allow for a true C-pillar and a beautifully sweeping roofline that makes the car stunning from all angles. But it’s the tail end that qualifies as a true piece of automotive art: Borrowing the long, lean taillight styling of the gorgeous new S Class Coupe, the GT also flaunts a massive piece of rear glass, leading to a deployable flush spoiler — all of which flows together like melting butter, albeit far tastier.

Nothing about the car’s design, aside from the vents on the front fenders, is in your face. Mercedes has created a sports car that upstages just about every other competitor out there in terms of beauty — and if it drives as good as it looks, the automotive world is in for a hell of a treat. Beneath all that beautiful skin resides an all-new 4-liter, twin-turbo V8 that delivers 456 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque in the GT, and a monstrous 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft in the GT S. Perhaps even more important is the unique M178 engine, named the “hot-V” for the turbos that sit outside the banks of its cylinders; they allow the engine to take up less space and sit lower in the engine compartment, creating a lower center of gravity that results in better handling. 0-60 should arrive in 3.9 seconds for the GT and 3.7 for the GT S, with top speeds of 189 and 193 mph, respectively. All this is managed by a slick 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with an electronically controlled limited slip differential. If the GT’s design doesn’t get your attention, the speed and handling surely will.

The GT and GT S are more than likely to take the sports car world by storm with its combination of stunning design, potent performance and the continuing legacy of the SLS AMG. When we take to the track with this new German beast in November, we’ll spare no delicious detail. Doubtless it will make no excuses in luxury and driving excitement, and doubtless sports car enthusiasts will line up by the hundreds just to take a test drive.

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