What is it?
The first and best thing to know about the Mercedes-AMG GT is that the UK at least seems big enough to accommodate it. Its predecessor, the SLS, a car which the GT still resembles from some angles, couldn’t be parked in this country without haemorrhaging bodywork in the space. We ran one as a long-termer, and when dirty, it resembled a great rusting hulk moored to the corner of some forgotten dock.
From the same distance, it’s readily apparent that no one would leave the GT in the corner of anything. Those rear haunches may be lifted wholesale from a 911, but the savagely pretty, low, lean and mean huskiness is all Mercedes. In the snapper’s words, “It couldn’t be made to look bad.” Not in the past 10 years has the three-pointed star been plastered to something so overtly testosteronic; from the back the badge looks like it’s been tattooed onto a bouncer’s neck.
What’s it like?Like the best European muscle cars posing as two-seaters, the GT comes prewrapped in an unmistakable aura of big money and ozone-high desirability.
That effect solidifies inside where the designers, apparently unbounded by compromise, have swept a chin-high grandstand of a spectacle-dashboard around the driver.
The centre console is something else: a virtual rampart, wider than a cavity wall and shot-bar sleek, its expanse is festooned with buttons and dials – one each for all the typical dynamic functions, and practically every one as superfluous as Batman’s nipples because Mercedes’ usual shortcut of C, S, S+ and Race is also present and, on the road at least, you’ll spend 95% of your time in either of the first two settings.
But that hardly matters. While an adult might acknowledge the hackneyed ergonomics – including the under-elbow placement of the gear lever- the child inside would have to be stone cold for you not to rejoice at the assertive, Fantasia-style flair of it all.
Nowhere is the unapologetic swagger more in evidence than in the guttural waffle being emitted from the rear. Given the nature of the turbocharged V8, it’s hard to believe that the air-disturbing gurgle of a Normandy landing craft is its organic state – yet this too is difficult to care about when the pitch goes supersonic from a quarter-mile away.
If only the sound from inside was as dramatic. That it isn’t is a reminder that Mercedes is hawking weapons-grade power here, but not necessarily with all the messy consequences. To drive, the GT siphons off much that was good about the SLS and jettisons the bit which made it feel like skittishly threading a grand piano across a crowded dance floor.
Very fast steering and a keyed-up, almost-edgy front end means the GT is supremely responsive – but there’s an emphatically greater sense of directional stability about it, encouraging you to lean on its fierce, better telegraphed grip with greater confidence.
The taut ride quality feeds into this – there being scant body roll to worry about at sane speeds – although the price to pay is obvious enough in the unsettled fidget occasionally encountered on very choppy roads.
Consequently, and predictably, the GT feels most at home on the kind of fast, well-sighted smooth roads they breed like earthworms in Bavaria. Lateral certainty, delicate steering and the salt-flat linearity of the V8’s adrenalized 479lb ft mid-range makes the car a stupendously fast prospect here.
Not an uninvolving one either: switch it into Race mode, and the rear E-diff suddenly embraces a slightly more liberal attitude to traction – a rousing prospect if you’re prepared to expend the considerable energy needed to exploit it and change gears on the much-improved seven-speed DCT gearbox yourself.
Should I buy one?Whether or not that means the GT has the handling talent to upstage some of the class leaders is a question we’ll be answering directly in a forthcoming group test – but, to be honest, Mercedes will hardly quake at the prospect of it being vanquished by a 911 on track.
On the contrary, it’s Porsche who should be worried: some of what makes the GT a must-have item (you’ll be waiting 18 months if you order one now) are arguably qualities for which it has no obvious answer.
Mercedes AMG GT
Location Wales; On sale Now; Price £122,750; Engine V8, 3982cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 503bhp at 6250rpm; Torque 479lb ft at 1750-4750rpm; Gearbox 7-spd DCT; Kerbweight 1645kg; Top speed 193mph; 0-60mph 3.8sec; Economy 30.1; CO2 and tax band 219g/km/37%
What is it?