Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Coupe (2014 - ) review
The Mercedes-AMG GT is a supercar to rival high-end versions of the Porsche 911. Its twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 gives it astonishing pace and an awe-inspiring soundtrack.
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Any performance car needs a certain amount of aggression in its styling, and the GT delivers plenty. The bonnet seems to make up the majority of the car’s entire length, and with a flowing roofline, squat rear end and short overhangs, it certainly looks like it means business. The showy details and curvaceous bulges also add to the car’s fearsome look. The GT looks pretty outstanding whether you go for the base model or the more powerful S version - prepare to be the centre of attention wherever you drive to - But, with all sorts of other styling goodies on the options list, you can make your GT stand out even more.
Climb inside the GT, and you’ll find just as much drama as you saw on the outside. The design of the dashboard looks upmarket and elegant, being dominated by the four circular air vents slap-bang in the middle and the tablet-style screen for the infotainment system. Below that sits a very wide centre console, which does rather encroach on your foot space, but the switches and dials that sit on it are clearly marked for easy use. The infotainment system isn’t the most intuitive you’ll ever use, but it becomes simple enough with practice. As long as you use the rotary dial to control it, that is; the touchpad that sits on top of the dial is pretty useless. There are some other ergonomic issues, too. The plunging roofline and thick pillars mean your visibility can be obscured at some junctions, and the gear selector is placed so far back on the centre console that it’s awkward to reach. Overall, the quality of the cabin’s materials and assembly give a very high-class feel, but nose around, and you’ll find one or two bits and pieces that aren’t quite so impressive.
A two-seater sports car is never going to be the most practical choice, but in the scheme of things, the GT doesn’t do a bad job compared with its rivals. The passenger compartment has plenty of space, the seats are really supportive and have bags of electrical adjustment, and the boot has enough room for a few weekend bags. Extending the fabric luggage divider drops the capacity you’ll get, but the design of the interior space means you’ll need to if you plan to drive fast. Otherwise, you may well find your luggage hitting you in the back of the head under heavy braking. A few narrow door pockets, and a massive pair of cupholders in the wide centre console, plus a deep bin under the armrest mean there are places to stash things inside the GT - from smartphones to designer sunglasses, it's got you covered.
Ride and handling
So far, we’ve only driven the GT is its faster S specification, and this version gets adaptive dampers as standard (the less powerful base car has a more conventional setup). The modes range from Comfort through to Race, and these firm things up or soften them off accordingly. Even in Comfort mode, the GT’s low-speed ride is pretty firm; not unbearably so, but you’ll get jostled around a fair bit more than you will in a Porsche 911. The ride does settle down once you’re going faster to give decent cruising manners, but the wide tyres kick up a fair amount of road noise. However, handling is far more important to a car like this than ride comfort or refinement, and on that score, the GT does a good job. You’ll enjoy immense grip and super-tight body control, and the car’s aluminium structure makes it feel very light and agile in the bends. Unfortunately, lightness is something that also applies to the steering, no matter which driving mode you select, and this can discourage you from testing the car’s abilities to the full. It weights up consistently in corners, and is really accurate, but you don’t get a vast amount of feedback through the wheel. These misgivings with the steering aren’t enough to ruin the GT’s handling prowess, but they do little to add to it.
Like we said, we’ve only had the chance to drive the S version of the GT so far, which generates 503bhp and 479lb ft of torque from its twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine (the version in the base car delivers a ‘paltry’ 456bhp and 443lb ft). That makes the S good for 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 193mph, but the numbers give you little appreciation of the way this thing piles on the speed. Even partial pressure on the throttle gives a truly savage burst of acceleration, and if you keep your foot in, the pace just keeps on building relentlessly. The engine works really well with the seven-speed twin-clutch transmission, and the constant deep burble from the exhaust only adds to the drama. There’s so much in-gear muscle that it’ll pull strongly from really low revs, so it’s surprisingly docile when you just fancy pootling along at town speeds – and you leave the engine and gearbox in there most relaxed settings.
You’ll pay a suitably huge fee to buy the Mercedes-AMG GT, but it’s about the same as you’ll pay for a high-end Porsche 911 and it’s less than you’ll part with for rivals like the Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracan. The official fuel consumption figure of 30mpg is about par for the course in this company, and like with its rivals, driving the GT gently enough to earn you that sort of return would render the car utterly pointless. Bills for insurance, tax and tyres will be fairly astronomical, but if you can afford to buy a car like this, you can probably afford to run it as well.
Unfortunately, we can’t be awfully helpful here. The GT carries a lot of brand new parts, the engine and chassis to name but two, for which there is pretty much no reliability data. It also means you can’t really take much of a steer from Mercedes’ historical reliability record, but perhaps that’s just as well. The brand ranks rather too near the bottom of Warranty Direct’s manufacturer standings for comfort. The other issue is that the GT will sell in such small numbers that there might never be enough data to give you a decent idea. If you buy a GT, you’ll be putting your faith solely in the skill and diligence of AMG’s engineers, but to be fair, that’s not a bad place to put your trust.
The GT comes with all sorts of traction and stability aids to help keep all that power going in the right direction, and has six airbags to protect you and your passenger if your exuberance turns into over-exuberance. Tyre pressure monitoring is also standard, along with a system that detects fatigue in the driver and warns them that they need a break. The optional Driver Assistance Package adds things like lane-keep and blind-spot assistance for a rather hefty sum. The car hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, and with the tiny numbers it’s likely to sell in, it probably never will be.
You’d expect a car costing this much to come packed with standard luxury kit, and the GT does a decent job in providing heated leather sports seats, climate and cruise controls, automatic lights and wipers, and a high-end stereo system that also includes Bluetooth, a DAB radio and sat-nav. However, it’s a bit mean that you don’t get parking sensors as standard, and with the view out the back of this thing, you’ll definitely be needing them. What’s worse, you can’t add them as an individual option, so you need to add the Premium Pack (which admittedly earns you a whole bunch of other luxury goodies like a panoramic roof, keyless go and a better stereo), which costs you several thousand pounds extra. Still, Mercedes' rivals are equally good at scalping you for a few extra quid on things you could reasonably expect to be standard at this price.
Because you don’t want a Porsche 911. If that’s you, then the Mercedes-AMG GT will provide you with all the speed, noise and theatre you could ever want, and it won’t be as nearly as common a sight on UK roads. Ultimately, it’s not quite as engaging to drive as the Porsche, but for many supercar fans, its other attributes will be enough to compensate.