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Mercedes-AMG GT S 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
7.9
The Mercedes-AMG GT is a proper, hand-built supercar, rolling in the wheel tracks of the epic SLS, adding a serious, high-performance sheen to the three-pointed star’s global image.

There’s AMG, and then there’s AMG. You can pick up a humble Merc A-Class hatch with big-talking rims bearing those three little letters, as well trim bits and pieces that hint at German hot-rod cred, and you can tell yourself you're living the AMG dream.

But then the Mercedes-AMG GT ranges into view. A proper, hand-built supercar, rolling in the wheel tracks of the epic SLS, adding a serious, high-performance sheen to the three-pointed star’s global image.

The race-focused AMG engineers and designers in Affalterbach, north-east of Stuttgart, who created the car from a clean sheet, recently decided that after two years on sale it deserved a visual and mechanical freshen up. Their local colleagues invited us to steer it through rural Victoria. Who could say no?

Mercedes-Benz AMG GT 2018: C
Safety rating
Engine Type4.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency11.5L/100km
Seating2 seats
Price from$286,770

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

The GT has the low, wide and menacing look any supercar worth feeding your fuel money into should. And to put this beast’s dramatic proportions into real-world perspective, the coupe version is no less than 10cm longer, 14cm wider, and 16cm lower than a humble Mazda3 hatch.

It looks suitably brutal, yet careful management of its curves and major surfaces results in a beautifully resolved shape, with signature touches like the slatted grilles in the front guards, slimline LED tail-lights, and now, a vertical-slat ‘Panamericana’ front grille.

Merc positions the grille as, “an AMG family design” (it also appears on the GLC63 S), but even Blind Freddy could see it’s inspired by the Mercedes-Benz (W194) 300 SL racer. In 1952, that amazing silver coupe not only placed second and fourth in the gruelling Mille Miglia road race, it won Le Mans, the Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring, and the amazing Carrera Panamericana in Mexico.

Merc positions the grille as, “an AMG family design” (it also appears on the GLC63 S). Merc positions the grille as, “an AMG family design” (it also appears on the GLC63 S).

It was the precursor to the iconic 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ road car, and its distinctive grille is reloaded into the front of the revised GT, making a surprisingly big (and positive) difference to the look and feel.

The interior matches the exterior for visual drama, with a broad tunnel dividing the beautifully sculpted seats (strange, given the dual-clutch transmission is mated to the rear transaxle).

The interior matches the exterior for visual drama, with a broad tunnel dividing the beautifully sculpted seats. The interior matches the exterior for visual drama, with a broad tunnel dividing the beautifully sculpted seats.

A battery of four ventilation nozzles dominates the centre dash, with a 21.3cm colour screen above, and a simple binnacle housing the main instruments. The feel is substantial and jet-fighter cool.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Obviously the notion of practicality and two-seat supercars don’t usually align, but the GT Coupe is technically a hatchback, with 350 litres of luggage capacity on offer (285 litres if you use the load cover).

As an outright number, that’s as much, if not more, than some small hatchbacks, but the cargo space is long and shallow, which puts the squeeze on large suitcases. Soft bags will be fine, though, and there’s a luggage net in the left-hand side of the compartment.

The roadster’s boot only offers up 165 litres, so if you’re keen on open-air touring, remember to pack light. And there’s no spare tyre on coupe or roadster, just the Mercedes-Benz ‘Tirefit’ repair kit.

Space for things inside the cabin is at a premium. The door pockets can accommodate a cigarette paper (two at a pinch), and the glove box is modest. But there’s a lidded bin between the seats (with two USB ports and an SD card slot), a storage net in the passenger footwell, and a sliding cover in front of the gearshift reveals a pair of full-size cupholders, with a 12-volt outlet on the side.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The Merc-AMG GT line-up has stealthily grown from just one model at launch (the GT S) in 2015, to three coupes and two roadsters, ranging across an $80k spread from $258,711 (GT Coupe) to $338,711 (GTC Roadster). The hardcore GT R, honed on the Nurburgring and appropriately finished in an arresting shade called ‘Green Hell’, will top that (at $348,711) when it arrives next year… if you can find one to buy.

As you’d expect in a car weighing in at more than $250k, the GT Coupe is loaded with standard gear, including electrically adjustable and heated sports seats trimmed in a combination of 'Dinamica' faux leather and fabric (with memory function for the seats, mirrors and steering wheel), a leather-trimmed, flat-bottom sports steering wheel, the ‘Comand’ multimedia system controlling 3D nav, media, audio, phone, and vehicle settings through a hi-res 21.3cm colour display (with voice control), cruise control (with variable speed limiter), a 640-watt, 10-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system (plus DAB+ digital radio), keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, 19-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential (LSD), AMG illuminated stainless steel door sill panels, a sports pedal cluster in brushed stainless steel (with rubber studs), auto headlights, metallic paint, and ‘Parktronic’ parking assist. 

Everything is controlled through the hi-res 21.3cm colour display. Everything is controlled through the hi-res 21.3cm colour display.

The GT Roadster ($283,711) adds its three-layer fabric soft top, with a combination magnesium-steel-aluminium substructure (which opens or closes in 11 seconds, at speeds of up to 50 km/h), and an electronically controlled ‘Draught Stop’ wind deflector.

Shell out $298,711 for the GT S Coupe (there’s no GT S Roadster), and beside extra power and torque (detailed in the engine section, below) you’ll also receive, nappa leather upholstery, a glass panoramic sunroof (with sunblind), ‘Distronic’ autonomous cruise control, staggered (19/20-inch) 10-spoke alloy wheels, ‘AMG Ride Control’ sports suspension, the ‘AMG Dynamic Plus’ package (dynamic engine and transmission mounts, firmer suspension, retuned steering, yellow highlights on the instrument cluster, and a sports steering wheel trimmed in black ‘Dinamica’ microfibre), LED headlights (with adaptive high beam), indicators, Daytime Running Lights (DRL), and tail-lights, as well as an electronic LSD, a performance exhaust system, and red brake calipers.

The GT S gets staggered (19/20-inch) 10-spoke alloy wheels. The GT S gets staggered (19/20-inch) 10-spoke alloy wheels.

Then, the GT C Coupe ($313,711) dials up the power factor even further, and adds ‘Climatised AMG Performance seats’ (with active ventilation), a nappa leather / Dinamica trimmed steering wheel, unique 19/20-inch alloys, and a rear-steering system. The GT C Roadster ($338,711) combines the tricky ‘Airscarf’ function with the ventilated seats.

Created to celebrate half a century of AMG, the limited-run GT C ‘Edition 50’ Coupe ($335,211) incorporates the interior ‘Night Package’ (interior elements in black or high-gloss black - door sill with AMG lettering, steering wheel spokes, bezel, and gearshift paddles, and seat insert under the head restraints), Edition 50 detailing in the head restraints and steering wheel bezel, quilted nappa leather upholstery, AMG trim elements in black chrome, LED headlights, and alloys finished in a choice of two ‘designo’ colours (‘Graphite Grey’ or ‘Cashmere White’).

Value-for-money is a relative concept, and even the entry-level GT is close to 13 times the price of a base Corolla. But it’s smack on target when the crosshairs are aimed at Porsche’s 911, and you get plenty of fruit and hand-built engineering bang for those big bucks.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

All Merc-AMG GT variants are powered by the same all-alloy, 4.0-litre V8, featuring dry-sump lubrication, direct-injection and a pair of turbos nestled inside the ‘V’ between the cylinder banks. And outputs have been bumped up in this latest iteration.

AMG isn’t the only manufacturer to settle on this ‘hot inside V’ turbo location, the claimed advantages being: compact design, rapid throttle response, and low emissions (thanks to optimum air flow for the close-coupled catalytic converters).

Another exotic touch is a ‘Nanoslide’ coating on the cylinder liners (as used in the Mercedes-AMG Formula One V6). AMG claims it’s harder than conventional cast-iron liners, less susceptible to wear, and reduces friction.

The 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 produces 384kW/670Nm in GT S form. The 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 produces 384kW/670Nm in GT S form.

As well as a couple of turbos, a small plaque sits on top of the engine, signed by the single technician that put it (and we mean all of it) together.

A mix of turbo compressor design, boost pressure, wastegate settings, exhaust porting and compression ratio tuning means each step up the GT ladder brings a substantial increase in power and torque.

The GT now produces a solid 350kW/630Nm, the GT S a substantial 384kW/670Nm, and the GT C a stonking 410kW/680Nm. The full-house GT R will arrive next year with a whopping 430kW/700Nm on board. That’s 585hp in the old money!

Power goes to the rear wheels via the ‘AMG Speedshift DCT’ seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, married to the rear axle, with a slightly higher first gear ratio fitted in the GT C (and GT R).

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is as follows (C02 emissions in brackets): GT 9.4L/100km (218g/km), GT S 9.5L/100km (221g/km), and GT C 11.5L/100km (261g/km).

Despite the ‘Eco’ stop-start function, expect real-word economy around 16.0L/100km for the GT S, and you’ll need 75 litres of 98RON premium unleaded to fill the tank (in all models).

What's it like to drive?   7/10

It’s no secret that, from day one, AMG boss Tobias Moers placed the GT’s missile lock on Porsche’s 911, wanting his car to out-handle Zuffenhausen’s rear-engined icon.

Relative to that ambition, seat time in the revised GT S during the launch drive put some ticks in the plus column and question marks on the opposite side of the ledger.

Built around an aluminium space-frame, with the front-mid mounted V8 sitting low in the chassis, the GT boasts an ideal 47/53 front-to-rear weight distribution.

the GT S is capable of rocketing from 0-100km/h in just 3.8sec. the GT S is capable of rocketing from 0-100km/h in just 3.8sec.

Thanks to a relatively modest kerb weight of 1570kg, peak power of 384kW (at 6250rpm), maximum torque of 670Nm (available from just 1800rpm all the way to 5000rpm), and standard launch control, the GT S is capable of rocketing from 0-100km/h in just 3.8sec, and on to a maximum velocity of no less than 310km/h. 

Seriously impressive numbers, but it’s the sound and fury of this car’s acceleration that stands the GT S apart.

The ‘AMG Performance exhaust system’ uses two infinitely adjustable flaps to modulate the exhaust note, depending on the ‘AMG Drive Select’ mode you’re in (more on that in a minute), or it can be controlled by a separate button.

Typically, a loud exhaust on a turbo car equates to inefficiency as too much exhaust gas (and sound) is getting past the turbo(s) rather than contributing to induction pressure (hello, Formula One). But AMG is a master of the noise-versus-power equation, and the roar from the GT S’s exhaust is properly fearsome.

The ‘AMG Performance exhaust system’ uses two infinitely adjustable flaps to modulate the exhaust note. The ‘AMG Performance exhaust system’ uses two infinitely adjustable flaps to modulate the exhaust note.

Forget planking, or reverse crunches, full-throttle acceleration in the GT S delivers a solid core workout as your body instinctively braces against the rapidly building G forces.

Translating all that forward thrust into lateral grip is the job of the double wishbone suspension (front and rear), and ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber (265/35x19fr / 295/30x20rr).

‘AMG Drive Select’ is standard on the GT, offering three pre-set drive programs - ‘C’, ‘S’, ‘S+’, as well as an individual ‘I’ setting. Then the GT S picks up an extra, track-focused ‘Race’ mode.

The system tunes key parameters, including throttle response, gear shifts, suspension damping, steering weight, and ESP intervention.

Then ‘AMG Ride Control’ works with Drive Select, also allowing individual adjustment of the suspension settings. But it’s here we arrive at a not-so-good bit.

The GT boasts an ideal 47/53 front-to-rear weight distribution. The GT boasts an ideal 47/53 front-to-rear weight distribution.

We’d previously driven the GT S around no less a circuit than Mount Panorama, and on that billiard-table-smooth surface, overall compliance wasn’t really a factor. But on typically coarse rural B-roads, ride quality, even in maximum comfort mode, is harsh.

Add an intrusive amount of road rumble from the fat Michelins, and you can forget that cheeky weekend getaway to the vineyards, because  you’ll be shaken and stirred to the point of frustration well before you get there.

On the plus side, the electro-hydraulic variable-rate steering delivers good road feel, body control is well buttoned down, and manual shifts from the seven-speed dual clutch are impressively rapid (proper alloy shift paddles on the wheel are a nice touch). 

The LSD helps put the GT S’s prodigious power down firmly out of quick corners, the sports seats are grippy and comfortable, and monster carbon brakes (390mm six-piston fr / 360mm single-piston rr) come up to temperature quickly and wash off speed with confidence-inspiring efficiency.

Herr Moers may have his wish in terms of outright handling, but the 911 enjoys a clear advantage in terms of that magical balance between ultimate dynamic performance and top-shelf ride comfort.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

When you want to talk safety, few have more runs on the board than Mercedes-Benz, and the AMG GT is packed with active-safety tech, including, ‘Acceleration Skid Control’ (ASR), ‘Active Brake Assist’, ‘Adaptive Brake’ (with hold function), ‘Hill Start Assist’, brake drying (in the wet), adaptive flashing LED brake lights, ‘Attention Assist’ (drowsiness detection), ABS, AEB, ESP, ‘Pre-Safe’ (accident anticipation system), ‘Blind Spot Assist’, ‘Lane Keeping Assist’, a reversing camera, and a tyre-pressure-monitoring system.

And if all that isn’t enough to keep you out of trouble, the GT contains eight airbags (front, knee, head-thorax, and full-length window).

The Mercedes-AMG GT has not been tested by ANCAP or EuroNCAP.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The Mercedes-AMG GT range is covered by a three year/unlimited km warranty, with 24-hour roadside and accident assistance provided for three years.

Service is recommended for the AMG GT S every 12 months/20,000km, with capped price numbers set at: first service - $876, second - $1,652, and third - $1,652, for a total of $4180 over the first three years.

Verdict

Ferociously fast, but flawed, the Mercedes-AMG GT is gloriously loud and dynamically outstanding, just don’t expect a cushy ride.

AMG GT or Porsche 911? Let us know your preference in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$302,665
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$236,500
Highest Price
$368,830

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GT 4.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $259,270 – 297,990 2018 MERCEDES-BENZ AMG GT 2018 GT Pricing and Specs
GT C 4.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $309,540 – 355,850 2018 MERCEDES-BENZ AMG GT 2018 GT C Pricing and Specs
(base) 4.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $236,500 – 271,810 2018 MERCEDES-BENZ AMG GT 2018 (base) Pricing and Specs
C 4.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $286,770 – 329,560 2018 MERCEDES-BENZ AMG GT 2018 C Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.9
Design9
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption7
Driving7
Safety9
Ownership7
James Cleary
Deputy Editor

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