Mercedes-AMG GT S (2015) Review

 
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This is the hot new release from Mercedes-AMG that is both beautiful to look at and beautiful to drive. It's a GT car with proper sportscar credentials and calls itself the AMG GT S.

A few years back Mercedes-AMG revealed the SLS with its striking gullwing doors and fiery 6.2-Litre V8 powerplant. It was capable of outrageous speeds but could be a handful in the bends. It also had one serious price tag. Fast forward a few years and Mercedes-AMG has come up with the new AMG GT, a more compact offering targeted directly at the Porsche 911.

It's a beautiful thing to look at. The Mercedes-AMG GT S's best angle is from the rear three quarters where its pure and purposeful lines are shown off. With the automated rear spoiler manually activated, it adds another dimension to the visual appeal. Drive one of these through a busy area and cellphones pop out and capture your every move.

Two Models to Choose From

There are two models to choose from. There's a base GT and the more potent GT S, which offers a lot more than just a bit more power. Speaking of power, the GT S packs a 4.0-litre biturbo V8 delivering 375 kW and 650 Nm. The driving is done through a carbon fibre propshaft to the rear wheels and a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox. While it shares the same powerplant as the latest incarnation of the AMG C63, the two cars are vastly different in power delivery and application. In fact, we had the two cars together briefly and the difference is considerable.

Reach for the Engine Start button located on the centre tunnel and the engine barks to life. Even in the tame Comfort mode, the promise of tremendous pace is immediate. Activate the Sports exhaust and the tone immediately shifts to a deeper note.

How Does It Drive?

While supercars are generally frustrating to drive on a day-to-day basis, we found the Mercedes-AMG GT S forgiving and in Comfort Mode, feels more like a cruiser rather than an outright racer. Flick through the various driving modes and the nature of the vehicle changes dramatically. Turn the dial to Race and the dark side of the Mercedes-AMG GT S comes out.

For starters, the exhaust becomes a lot louder with backfires galore on downshifts. The throttle response sharpens dramatically, the suspension firms up and the gearbox adopts more aggressive mapping for quicker gearshifts. The electronic aids relax, allowing the rear tyres some leeway. Make no mistake though, even with the stability set to Sport, the car will reign you in if you're a bit heavy handed.

There are a number of things that make this car extraordinarily special. The ability to go from grand tourer to outright racecar by just turning a dial for one. Secondly, it's forgiving and well balanced. AMG products have a fearsome reputation for biting the careless, but this car flatters the inexperienced driver and encourages you to press on.

In Comfort mode it's quite civilised, with only a hint of its potential savagery. Despite the two turbos providing extra grunt, the aural satisfaction particularly in the aggressive modes is quite high. It's a raucous sound and many would agree it's not dissimilar to an old-school American muscle car.

Check out the AMG GT S' Driving Modes

A video posted by Cars.co.za (@carssouthafrica) on

Focused Interior

When you're paying R2-million for a German sportscar, you'd expect build quality and finishes to be of the highest order and they are. While the dashboard does share some similarities with lesser Mercedes-Benz models (such as infotainment screen), the interior is AMG through and through. Our test unit's interior was clad in a striking red leather. First thing you'll notice is the centre tunnel, which is home to buttons such as Engine Start, Start/Stop, Exhaust, Manual Gearbox mode and Stability Control. Like most sportscars, the cockpit feels tight and focussed. In order not to make the centre-dash feel cluttered Mercedes-AMG cleverly put half a dozen buttons on the roof, much like a jet. While these buttons only offer heated seat controls, hazard lights and rear spoiler deployment, there's something strangely satisfying reaching up and depressing one of them.

Despite its clear performance focus, it still feels vaguely practical with a handy luggage compartment behind the driver and passenger. All your comfort features like satellite navigation, climate control and so on come standard too. Being a Mercedes numerous options can be fitted such as high-power audio as well as carbon ceramic brakes to name but a few.

Verdict

Few cars are this involving and dramatic, or this fast while being remarkably easy to drive.

In this segment, driver satisfaction counts foremost and the Mercedes-AMG GT S delivers wonderfully. The competition is a mixed bunch, ranging from the tech-fest Nissan GT-R, the British brute Jaguar F-Type and the old favourite, the Porsche 911. The new Audi R8 also falls into this territory. Our industry colleagues have repeatedly called the AMG GT the 911 fighter. We'd prefer to think of this as a proper alternative to the Porsche 911. As far as cars that thrill and delight, this is one of the finest. While it may have some minor faults such as road noise and lack of forward visibility due to a seriously long nose, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Few cars are this involving and dramatic, or this fast while being remarkably easy to drive. Performance car of the year? It's certainly right up there!

Listen to the AMG GT S Engine 

A video posted by Cars.co.za (@carssouthafrica) on

Mercedes-AMG GT S – Price in South Africa

As mentioned earlier, there are two models to choose from. The AMG GT retails for R1 651 850 while the faster AMG GT S goes for R1 991 670. If you're wanting a unique vehicle, opt for the Edition 1 pack for a 'measly' R2 202 670. The car comes with a 2-year/unlimited km warranty and a 6-year/100 000km maintenance plan.

Test Team Opinion

Mercedes-AMG seems to have made the sportscar for every situation. It can be calm and sedate, cruise serenely over long distances or a track lap record setter. All of this at the touch of a few buttons. Genuinely brilliant. - Ashley Oldfield

If you believe, as I do, that a car such as this should excite all the senses, and can not only be about speed and power, then the Mercedes-AMG GT S is the car for you. It looks dramatic. Its sound will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention. Drive it hard, and the "feel" through the steering wheel and seat of the pants will make you long for the long way home, every time. It's truly excellent. - Hannes Oosthuizen

We Like: Sound, looks, performance, nice balance of day-to-day and outright racecar

We Don’t Like: Restricted visibility, road noise, could be seen as too wild.

Also Look At: Porsche 911, Jaguar F-Type R coupe, Nissan GT-R

Want to buy the Mercedes-AMG GT S? Click here!

Compare the Mercedes-AMG GT S to its rivals here!

Mercedes-AMG GT S – Quick Specs

Mercedes-AMG GT S

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David Taylor

Having contributed to multiple motoring titles as well helping run the public relations machine of the Johannesburg International Motor Show, Cars.co.za editor Dave has experience in both sides of the motoring industry. He's based in the Cape and has driven & photographed over 350 cars. You can read more of his car stuff when you fly Kulula.

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