Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door 2019 review
In an automotive world moving increasingly towards electrification Merc-AMG stands as a shining light for those seeking an upscale muscle car with four doors. Enter the bruising Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door
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It’s not everyday you get the chance to have a weekend with a brand new Porsche 911, let alone an extended three-day weekend that includes more than 800 kilometres of driving.
I spent my long weekend in the 2019 Porsche 911 Carrera S, and I drove from Sydney to Cooma and back without even going the fun way - yes, this ended up being a highway driving test in one of the world’s most exciting cars.
Did that mean there was nothing to learn? Not at all!
I didn’t want to leave the Porsche parked on my street in Erskineville overnight on Friday, so it spent the night in CarsGuide’s secure parking garage.
Part of the reason is that it costs a lot. The list price for this version of the 911 starts at $265,000 plus on-road costs, but our car had a number of options added, with the as-tested price coming out at $304,620 before on-roads.
I honestly wasn’t worried about it being stolen (the parking spaces are too tight for anyone but the most skilled of parallel parkers to escape), but my partner’s 2017 Mini Cooper recently copped a kick to the door panel for no other reason than, presumably, that it’s the nicest car on the street. So a Porker like this may have been at real risk.
I mean, I’d definitely only own a 911 if I had a garage. But I don’t. And I don’t have $300k, either. It just meant I had to get myself into the office to pick it up on Saturday morning, bright and early, before hitting the road towards Cooma.
I knew I was in for a few hours of boring, so I hooked my phone up to the Apple CarPlay system and lined up a few podcasts to help me tune out while the car cruised along at a rude-for-its-capability 110km/h down the Hume. After a fuel and food stop at Sutton Forest, I slid back into the heated leather seat and settled in for a few more hours.
The media system worked pretty well, and the screen clarity and reactiveness was impressive, and so was the sound. But on coarse-chip sections of the highway there was a lot of road roar to contend with, so I found myself having to adjust the volume quite a bit depending on the quality of surface that was under the tyres.
Should I have expected otherwise? Not really, when tyres this big are inches from your body, and the front wheels are 20x8.5-inches in size (with 245/35 Goodyear Eagle rubber) and the rears are 21x11.5-inch (with 305/30 rubber). Huge!
On the rare occasion I got a chance to squeeze the throttle on the freeway it was amazingly responsive. When a truck pulled out at the last moment to overtake another truck I was assured by the brakes, and when it was my turn to overtake, the snarling six-cylinder engine offered immense thrust.
Some people won’t love the twin-turbo engine's character compared to the old non-turbo models, but that’s just the way it is, and you should be happy for the effortless torque, if not the muffled exhaust noise, which I found to be just too quiet. And I didn’t love the steering or the ride as much as the previous model, either.
But I did love the eight-speed automatic transmission, which was crisp and clever.
And in a 100km/h zone outside of Cooma on a quiet road I sampled the from-a-standstill acceleration, and a quick look at the specs sheet - after I remoulded my facial muscles - explained a lot.
The claimed 0-100km/h time for the 911 Carrera S with the Sport Chrono package is 3.5 seconds. Yes. Three-point-five. And this is only the second-tier up the range - in what will no doubt include 10-odd steps in the range ladder, eventually.
The top speed is 308km/h for the 911 Carrera S, which makes you realise that the speedometer display that maxes out at 330km/h on the dash screen isn’t just a vanity thing. This is a proper, potent speed machine, with 331kW of power and 530Nm of torque.
I parked the Porsche in the garage at my parent’s place in Cooma. My dad figured that it was his birthday present, as he was turning 61 the next day.
He was saddened to learn that I’d actually got him a kitchen utensil, not a German sports car. But he did get to experience the car on his birthday… from the passenger’s seat.
Dad wanted to go out for breakfast in the Porsche on his birthday, and who was I to deny him? I mean, he’d told “his peeps on Facebook” that he’d got a 911 for his birthday, after all.
My mum (who’s 4’11” - or smaller than a lot of kids) got in the back seat and found the space to be fine, but getting in and out was a bit difficult due to the size and shape of the door aperture.
There are some design shortfalls - like, the seats don’t automatically slide forward to allow better ingress and egress like many other high-end coupes. And if you try and tilt the backrest forward when the seat is too far slid forward, it can get stuck because of the shape of the head-rests.
Anyway, we went down the street for brekky - it was actually closer to brunch - and the old boy proudly pointed the car out to the local cafe manager… who didn’t fall for it. He knew I’d got it for testing!
Dad (and mum) both liked it more with the sports exhaust system activated, but mum was a little disappointed that she didn’t get seat heating in the back. It was still just 6 degrees Celsius at midday, after all.
After a quick punt around the streets of Cooma, with a refrain of “please don’t go too fast!” from the back seat, it was time to share the love a little - my sister and her son wanted to go for a drive.
My eight-year-old nephew jumped in the back seat (the one behind the passenger, not behind me, because even though he’s young, I’m six-foot tall and he couldn’t fit). But he did fit behind my five-foot sister, and his first comment was that the back seat felt “like a fighter jet” because of the way the seat cups you, and also because of the glass roof.
There were plenty of comments on the fact "you can see the actual car on the media screen", and that the spoiler animates when you hit the spoiler button (and it even raises and lowers in real life!). I personally think the interior lacks a bit of the plushness of the previous model, because so much is controlled through the screen rather than those lovely tactile buttons and triggers in the 991.2. It is technically tidy, though.
For what it’s worth, I got in the back and it was hugely uncomfortable. The reasoning stands that if you buy a 911, you’re not buying it as a family car.
But if you want to use the back seat area for storage, there’s up to 264 litres of cargo capacity with the seats folded down.
For the trip home I made better use of the storage of the 911. It has a 132-litre front boot, which I used to store my luggage (Ugg boots, backpack, and a few tasty treats that would be better off in a cooler spot than in the cabin) - I planned to have the heat up, because it was a freezing 3.5 degrees when I set off.
First I wanted to get the photos I needed, so I went to the only place in town that you’d ever go to take pictures of a car - Nanny Goat Hill - and got the pics you see here.
The sun was there, but barely. I remembered that this particular test car was optioned with the Night View system, an infrared heat-detecting camera that will highlight humans or animals that you mightn’t otherwise see. And it indeed picked up a kangaroo bouncing in front of me that was disguised by the grass.
Before I got moving I plugged the phone back in for the podcast-a-thon that I was ready to take on during the four-hour-plus drive home. But it wouldn’t work.
Not only that, the screen wasn’t responsive, and the fact I’d connected to Bluetooth as a backup was of no use, either - it didn’t work. So after stopping the car, turning it off, starting it again, disconnecting the phone cable, reconnecting it, disconnecting the Bluetooth and reconnecting it, I eventually had a secure media stream once more. I’d be annoyed if I’d spent this much on a car like this and a simple element like phone connectivity was on the fritz.
Soon enough the system was awake and playing by the rules once more, and I drove the boring, boring drive home because I needed to get into the office for a meeting just after lunch. Yes, I know I said it was a long weekend, but only sort-of.
So that meant no excursions via Wollongong or any of the amazing roads surrounding it, but I did get back in good time, and all while using an average of just 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres. Pretty good for a sports car of this level of ability and sheer power.
As the hours ticked on I realised there are a few design qualms that annoy me. There are essentially five screens in front of the driver, but you can only see three of them through the steering wheel - you have to crane your neck to see what the outer two say. It's pretty annoying.
And there are multiple fonts used across the screens and the hard graphic elements - these aren’t the sort of problems you encounter in an Audi, for example.
It started pouring rain as I hit Sydney, where the car detected the conditions based on its computers and technology, and prompted me to switch to Wet mode with an audible ding, a message flashing up on the screen and even (I hope I didn’t imagine this) the lumbar adjustment pulsating my lower back.
I returned the Porsche 911 Carrera S to the CarsGuide garage, safe and sound, in time for my meeting. It did its job in terms of getting plenty of attention, and it got me to Cooma and back in safety and comfort. I just wish I’d had a week, rather than a weekend, to see what else it had to offer.
|Carrera||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP MAN||$208,450 – 239,580||2019 Porsche 911 2019 Carrera Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP MAN||$222,310 – 255,530||2019 Porsche 911 2019 Carrera 4 Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4 GTS||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP MAN||$275,330 – 316,470||2019 Porsche 911 2019 Carrera 4 GTS Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4 S||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP MAN||$252,560 – 290,290||2019 Porsche 911 2019 Carrera 4 S Pricing and Specs|