Mercedes-Benz AMG GT 2015 review
Craig Duff road tests and reviews the Mercedes-AMG GT S with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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For some people - I like to call them sexy, intelligent and widely beloved - Porsche's 911 is the ultimate car.
It provides pretty much all the driving joy of supercars twice the price, with none of the associated wankery.
In today's Porsche dealership - a cruel place to visit if you know you'll never be able to afford one - you'll find many 911s to choose from, from the base Carrera to the stupidly sharp GT3 race-car for the road to the stratospherically expensive 911 Turbo.
The latest 911 to come to market, though, is what those clever, sexy people who think like me would identify as the best of the bunch. The GTS, a slightly more powerful, certainly more pretty beefed-up version of the Carrera S that hits the 911 sweet spot like a perfectly played tennis forehand.
I must admit the older, 997 version of the 911 GTS is probably my personal favourite car of all time, and I'm pretty sure I won't love this newest one quite as much.
|Porsche 911 2017: Carrera GTS|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
There's something undeniably classic about the 911 design, which has remained essentially the same since the 1960s, but has grown bigger and fatter with each passing year, a bit like Tina Turner.
The eyes are still there, and the Coke-bottle shape and sexy hips - accentuated in the GTS with the wide-body look, a full 44mm thicker at the rear than a standard Carrera.
The most notoriously 'interesting' thing about the 911 design, of course, is that the engine is still at the back, where physics tells us it does not belong, and yet it still works. The tendency of older 911s to whip around at the back has been tamed by modern stability management systems, which helps.
In the GTS you also get the 'SportDesign' front apron, which ditches the air intake flaps and paints the spoiler lip black, and the Battlestar Galactica-like three-dimensional Led taillight strip. It is, overall, a beautifully designed car.
As long as there are only two of you, the space is very practical indeed, and it has the sexiest pop-out cup holders - which are fully adjustable for different-sized cups - hidden away behind a snazzy panel above the glove box. There may be only two of them, but they are works of art, as are the clever expandable storage bins in each door.
As the 911 has grown, the space for tiny children to sit in the back has grown to be something very nearly approaching practical, but it's still not quite there, and no adult would want to endure the rear buckets for long. If you have tall friends, you need to buy the Cabriolet, and only drive on sunny days.
It's hard to argue that any Porsche provides good value in a market where the cheapest one you can buy costs $221,200, although the same car looks like a bargain in the US, where it's just $US84,000.
In Australia, where you really have to want a Porsche to spend the money, the step up from a Carrera S with PDK at $262,250 to the GTS version is almost $30k, at $290,090.
You can have your GTS badge on five different variants - rear-wheel drive Coupe or Cabriolet, all-wheel-drive versions of the same, or a range topping Targa 4 GTS at $327,790 (which is $690 more than race-track monstering 911 GT3).
You do get a lot of standard inclusions for your GTS money that would cost a lot more if you specced them all up on a Carrera, including the 'Sports Exhaust' system, with its unfortunate looking centrally positioned twin tailpipes with high-gloss black trim, 'Porsche Torque Vectoring' with locking rear diff, 20mm lower sports suspension, tyre pressure monitoring, (very sexy) 20-inch Turbo S forged-alloy centre-lock wheels in satin black, the 'Sport Chrono Package', with 'Porsche Track Precision' app, an 'Active Carbon' fine dust filter, sport seats with embroidered GTS logos in black, and they're heated for free, too.
In the multimedia department you get BOSE surround sound with 'Connect Plus' including Apple CarPlay (apparently Porsche buyers only use Apple phones, never Android, because they're old).
The new 911 GTS gets its own specific version of the 3.0-litre boxer six that powers the Carrera S, with specially designed twin turbochargers running extra boost - up to 1.5 Bar for this model - resulting in 331kW and 550Nm, all of which is available in a flat, fabulous plane from 2150rpm to a howling 5000rpm. That means it's got 22kW more than the Carrera S and 15kW, and 110Nm, more than the previous, naturally aspirated 911 GTS. Those figures allow it to smash its way to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 312km/h.
Porsche tells us it's done everything it can to make this twin-turbo six feel like the big, 'naturally aspirated lump hanging out the back there' that you used to get. That means tuning the engine for the kind of linear power delivery you get in an atmo car, and avoiding the peaks and troughs you get with turbos.
The GTS tune is less hard-edged than the vicious GT3 version, which is described as 'the point of the spear' in 911 terms. Think of this version as 'the honed edge of the spear'.
The whole point of the turbocharging, engine down-sizing push is to reduce fuel-economy and CO2 figures, so you'd expect this 911 to be good. The claimed figure of 8.3L/100km really is impressive, though, for a car with this startling level of performance. We only drove it at launch, and thus quite aggressively, so we're not sure yet what that figure shakes out to in the real world.
As I mentioned earlier, the last, proper GTS - the 997, which brought its majesty before us back when Porsche hadn't dumbed down its steering to save 0.1 of a litre of fuel per 100km (and no, I'm not exaggerating, for once) and heretically attached turbochargers to its pure and perfect flat six engines - is quite possibly my favourite car of all time.
To drive it was to weep tears of joy, constantly, on to your steering wheel (which, helpfully, was Alcantara to help soak them up), because it sounded magnificent, cornered as if it was an extension of your hips, and your hips had been borrowed from Shakira, and was so communicative in the steering department that it seemed to be using actual Harry Potter-style magic rather than engineering.
It wasn't the fastest car I've ever driven, but it was more than fast enough, and it was, of course, beautiful, a beauty that it conveyed through your hands as much as your eyes.
The interior is also nicer, the multimedia more modern, the technology more clever, and yet what does Porsche tell us it has done with all of its engineering ingenuity, it has attempted "to mimic, as best we can, the naturally aspirated car".
So even they know it's wrong, really, and that the resulting lack of noise this latest iteration brought to our ears is a travesty.
Fortunately, the different turbine sizes for the GTS's special turbochargers, with their extra boostiness, create more of the old howl than you get with a mere Carrera.
It is, in the Coupe in particular, at full noise, a magical sound, and - distant turbo whistles apart - almost as good as it used to be.
The steering, which you can bet has been tuned to "mimic as closely as possible" the old hydraulic system, is also magical and, while it is slightly dead at the straight ahead compared to Porsches of old, if you'd never driven previous versions you'd still think it was the best steering you can buy in any new car on sale today. Because it is.
Is it as good as the old GTS? No, not quite. But it's so damn close.
The GTS is also slightly lower, slightly sportier in its set-up than a Carrera S, and has better brakes, borrowed from its big brother the 911 Turbo, so it does the going and stopping and turning even better than before. Again, magical is not too kind a word for the way it eats any piece of winding road. Nor is "superlative".
What really beggars belief, though, is the way this car rides and handles, with its specifically tuned springs and dampers (there are different set-ups for the Targa, Cabriolet and Coupe, but the Coupe is the one you want, because the others are all soft by comparison).
Even over the roughest, and indeed completely broken bits of bitumen, and even at silly pace, the 911 GTS simply refuses to crash, or bottom out, or misbehave. It is fantastically firm and yet freakishly compliant. It is a work of genius.
And yes, it is fast, stupidly so, and you know that its 3.6 second claim for the 0-100km/h dash is entirely achievable, as is its 300-plus top speed, because about these things Porsche does not lie.
As usual, as always, to drive the 911 GTS, the sweetest spot in what is the most delectable of call car ranges, is to experience motoring nirvana.
Is it as good as the old GTS? No, not quite. But it's so damn close, and so damn good, that it really doesn't matter. I still want one.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
In terms of passive safety, you're well looked after with driver and passenger airbags, 'Porsche Side Impact Protection', including impact protection in the doors, thorax airbags integrated into the side bolster of each front seat and head airbags for driver and front passenger in each door panel, for a total of six airbags (Cabrio and Targa versions also come with roll-over protection.
When it comes to the active stuff, however, you'll discover a gaping hole where AEB - now standard on any number of cheap city cars - should be. Obviously, you get ABS and tuneable traction controls, in the form of 'Porsche Active Stability Management' or PASM, but you only get AEB, or 'Porsche Active Safe', as they call it, if you tick the option box for 'Adaptive Cruise Control', and that will cost you $4690. Ouch.
What we've got here is not so much a supercar, as a Super Carrera; a better, faster, fiercer version of the 911 Carrera S, which brings back some of the noise that had gone missing.
The GTS is not the perfect car, but it's so damn close to it that it's purely nit picking to call it any less (this is the rear-drive Coupe version we're talking about, because all the other variants are more show ponies than proper Porsches, and all-wheel drive is surely only something Europeans in snow-bound areas need).
Its only failing, at least in Australia, is the high price of entry, but if you can afford one, I must urge you, please go and buy one. It's that good.
|Carrera||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP MAN||$178,640 – 205,370||2017 PORSCHE 911 2017 Carrera Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4||3.4L, PULP, 7 SP MAN||$167,200 – 192,170||2017 PORSCHE 911 2017 Carrera 4 Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4 Black Edition||3.4L, PULP, 7 SP MAN||$163,350 – 187,770||2017 PORSCHE 911 2017 Carrera 4 Black Edition Pricing and Specs|
|Carrera 4 GTS||3.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$212,850 – 244,640||2017 PORSCHE 911 2017 Carrera 4 GTS Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||9|