We’ve already raved about this engine in the C 63 section of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class review, so it’s no surprise Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe performance is impressive – regardless which version of the turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine you opt for.
Upon launch there were two models – the GT with 460hp and 600Nm, making for 0-62mph in four seconds with top speed of 189mph – and the GT S, which had 505hp and 650Nm. This meant 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds and 193mph flat-out.
Facelift for 2017
The range was reshuffled in January 2017, with more power for the two base models and a further two specifications introduced at the upper end – GT C and GT R.
Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe
This ‘base’ model has 476hp and 600Nm of torque, which is available from just 1,600rpm, lasting until 5,000rpm. That means that not only can this coupe can accelerate from 0-62mph in just four seconds, but it’s incredibly flexible in-gear too, so you don’t have to constantly swap ratios of the seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
You’ll happily do so though, since extending the handbuilt V8 past 5,000rpm is an aural treat – especially when lifting off the throttle to let the revs die down and being bombarded by the pops and bangs from the dual exhausts. Especially with the active exhaust system set to its louder position and the AMG Dynamic Select in its most aggressive mode.
Mercedes-AMG GT S Coupe
The AMG GT S has an extra 47hp over the standard AMG GT, plus another 50Nm of torque. The latter is now developed over a slightly narrower power band - between 1,750rpm and 4,750rpm - while the former is transmitted to the road at 6,250rpm instead of 6,000rpm.
It feels every inch as powerful as those numbers suggest, with an official 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds and a 193mph electronically limited top speed. The standard car tops out at 189mph. A planted throttle is an aural wall of V8 rumble, a deep-chested sound not augmented by sound symposers like some rivals, which feels more old-school than you might be expecting.
Turn off the stability and traction control systems and the AMG GT S (and standard GT) will happily leave its mark on the tarmac under full throttle starts, and it feels every inch the junior supercar hot rod in its acceleration.
Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe
This is the best model for performance road car fans. It has 557hp and 680Nm for 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds, but on the road the extra torque on offer means it feels much more flexible during normal driving.
Mercedes-AMG GT R
At the feisty end of the spectrum we have the GT R, which Mercedes states is ‘a racing car for road use’.
On the road we found it's hyper-responsive and a little unruly. The traction control light was illuminated for almost the entire time we were driving. The GT R definitely works better on the race track.
Seven-speed automatic gearbox
There’s only the one gearbox available for the Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe, regardless of power output, and it’s Mercedes’ familiar seven-speed dual-clutch automatic used in other AMG models.
That means it’s generally a civilised affair with smooth and decisive shifts, though it doesn’t react quite as quickly as we’d like under manual inputs – if you’re too slow on the up-change there’s a chance you’ll run into the limiter, and downchanges are often met with a ‘computer says no’ if the car deems you are too close to the rev limiter.
You can select between Comfort, Sport and Sport + for the gearbox modes, and GT S cars upwards have an extra Race mode for faster shifts, which are tied into the AMG Dynamic Select controller for all the other drive modes.
This is - save for outright power - what the Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe is all about, and it’s very much the equal of its contemporary rivals. Which means if you fancy something a little different to a Porsche 911 or Jaguar F-Type, then this car should certainly be on your shortlist.
On the cars we’ve driven there’s a variety of suspension modes to select from, but even in Comfort the AMG GT feels stiff – and on a long motorway haul you’ll notice the expansion gaps in the asphalt, plus the white lines and cats eyes.
Stiff but sensational handling
The pay-off for this is near-perfect body control when driving the Mercedes on a favourite twist of backroad. Bodyroll is nearly non-existent with an almost flat attitude to additional steering lock and acceleration, and despite this car’s weight and comparative size it often feels far wieldier than the dimensions might lead you to suggest.
With accurate but light steering, and a seating position seemingly just forward of the rear axle, this sportscar pivots neatly around your hips and it’s easy to determine the forces the chassis, and those chunky rear tyres, are working against. In the dry grip is impressive, though a heavy right foot round a bend soon reminds you of this car’s potency and ability to surprise.
That said it is equipped with electronic stability control and you can run with this fully engaged, or in Sport mode to lessen its electronic noose on proceedings – this halfway house allowing greater exploitation of the car before it cuts in and reigns in the fun.
Turn it all the way off and the AMG GT reveals itself as a hot-rod tyre-smoker of the highest order, and is great fun for those confident enough to explore its abilities on track.
Clever chassis technology
All versions have a locking differential on the rear axle, but the standard GT uses a mechanical differential and the GT S upwards use an electronic unit instead. They’ll help trim your line round a corner, minimising unwanted spinning of the inside wheel, but the electronic system is said to react quicker and more effectively.
The same can be said of the suspension – GT models get non-adaptive sports dampers, while all other versions get AMG Ride Control adaptive units that allow a spread of settings from Comfort through to rock-hard Race.
All GT Coupes also come with carbon ceramic brakes as standard, which offer decent feel and even more impressive stopping power – with no let-up in performance on the road.
Rear-wheel steering on GT S, GT C and GT R
Optional on the AMG GT S and standard on C and R, rear-wheel steering helps to make the car more manoeuvrable at low speeds and helps with stability when going more quickly. You can feel this working – without going into too much technical detail, it effectively simulates a far harder tyre on the outer rear wheel so the car rolls less going into corners.
Choose the AMG GT S model upwards and there’s the option of dynamic engine and transmission mounts, counteracting the natural movement of the components during high-speed cornering to keep un-expected weight transfer to a minimum.
The Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe on the racetrack
On circuit the Mercedes-AMG GT S is a spectacularly rewarding car, with an agile and fluidly adjustable chassis bolted to an absolute monster of an engine. The relatively lightweight steering set-up does little to inspire confidence when cornering at higher miles-per-hour, but thanks to its balance and poise the GT S is still capable of lapping at quite some speed.
It’s surprising how big the car feels when lapping a fast circuit, such as Goodwood, amplified by the fact you’re perched low and have to peer along that massive bonnet.
We were very impressed with the electronic intervention in terms of traction and stability control set-ups, and when switching into Race mode the Mercedes-AMG GT S becomes an angry sounding supercar with impressive cornering capability.
See and hear what the Mercedes-AMG GT S is like around the historic Goodwood circuit here:
However, we’ve also driven the GT R on the circuit and have discovered a car that’s far more capable than most drivers will ever claim to be.
To say it’s lively is an understatement – it’s incredibly tail-happy driven with all the electrical systems dialled back, but if you’re doing this then you can control the wayward rear end somewhat with the racing car-spec adjustable traction control system.
To use this you switch off the standard AMG system altogether and then control how much intervention you want via a small rotary knob just below the air vents on the dash.
The first thing to strike you – almost literally – when sliding into the driver’s seat of the Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe is the windscreen and just how upright it is.
Slim and wide, it gives a widescreen pillarbox style view of the world ahead - a world entirely dominated by the ever-stretching bonnet of this hot rod sports car. It’s a view measured equally in intoxication and trepidation.
Not a huge amount of room inside
Close the door and you’ll find your fingers pinched between door card and seat side when adjusting some of its settings. It’s not a problem, or even a hazard, but it feels like Mercedes’ ergonomics masters could’ve squeezed a few more millimetres of room for your digits to be entirely comfortable down there. If you own the car you’ll only do it the once anyway, thanks to memory settings.
It’s all down to the super-wide transmission tunnel, which extends itself far back into the cabin and pushes occupants to the outside of the car’s extremities. It adds to the sense of brutal occasion, but doesn’t do much for the driving position since it also offsets the pedals. At least the seat adjusts nice and low into the floor of the car.
Built for right-hand drive markets?
The ergonomics continue to take a hammering when you start to take advantage of the variable exhaust, gearbox modes or even adjust the stereo volume.
Those buttons are all placed on the far side of that transmission tunnel, while the adjustable damper button on the driver’s side of the same requires double-jointed elbows to reach such is its proximity to your left hip. The tiny gearlever seems at odds with the car’s attitude too.
And we still can’t get used to the Comand controller, which isn’t as intuitive to operate as BMW’s i-Drive or Audi’s MMI Touch system, despite the Smartphone-style input commands. The 8.4-inch tablet-style screen splits opinion, though for us we’re quite happy with its looks, position and clarity while the leather clad dash and Alcantara steering wheel of our test model looked great.
Some cheaper-feeling switchgear
It’s just a shame some of the switchgear felt a little lightweight, the airvents in particular lacking the solid tactility that their appearance suggested, and the main instruments didn’t appear a bit more special – and easier to read.
But, for all those issues the Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe still feels like a special place to be, with an ambience (admittedly mostly created by the view along that wide, flat and long bonnet) that rivals struggle to match.
If you want to ensure the Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe is as comfortable it can be, then you’ll either need to buy the GT S or specify the optional AMG Ride Control adaptive dampers for the standard GT model. These allow users to choose from three pre-selected modes for the suspension’s reactions; Comfort, Sport and Sport+.
Even with this system (we’ve yet to try one on standard suspension) the Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe is on the firm side of the comfort scale – possibly exacerbated by the 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels.
Plenty of road noise
To be fair though, its rivals exhibit a similar ride quality, and it isn’t alone in transmitting plenty of road roar into the cabin thanks to wide wheel and tyre combination. It’s a sports car so you’d expect some engine and exhaust noise, and here the AMG GT performs admirably – settling down to a quiet cruise on a constant throttle but emitting a purposeful rumble under hard acceleration.
And save for a seat base that didn’t offer enough angle adjustment for one tester, the seats are perfectly comfortable – despite their thin, bucket-like stature. There’s ample adjustment (electric) available and being able to save your desired position into the memory is useful if you have more than one regular driver.