Mercedes-AMG GT (2015) First Drive

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The Mercedes-AMG GT is a thoroughbred sportscar that tries to be everything to everyone who can afford it. It can be soft and comfortable when you have to limp around in traffic or over bumpy roads. It can be a long distance GT cruiser with reasonable luggage space. Then it can also be an absolute maniac at the track when you unleash all of its 340kW. It’s the Mercedes-AMG to take on the Porsche 911 and the Audi R8, and we spent the day in Johannesburg for the South African launch. We were lucky enough to get a chance to drive it on track and at high speed at the Gerotek test facility.

Does it look good?

In the flesh it looks just as good as in the perfectly edited photos you’ve likely already seen. The bonnet is long and handsome, commanding its own entrance before the rest of the carriage arrives. The cockpit looks like The Jetsons’ space bubble with the rear sloping downwards into a smooth, familiar GT cruiser shape. The rear wheel arches are widened and give it a muscular rear end. Throw a few Rands at the options packages and you can alter the front grille to the studded diamond look. The interior is lined with leather and Alcantara to make it feel exclusive. The centre console is raised and features all the important switchgear like the gearshift stick and the controls to adjust the suspension, exhaust note and driving modes.

What makes it shunt?

Underneath the bonnet lurks a 4-Litre bi-turbo engine with 340 kW in the AMG GT. Upgrade to the GT S and you get 375 kW. Respectively, they have 600 Nm and 650 Nm of torque. It’s a very responsive engine and revs beautifully, delivering a constant wave of acceleration as you mash the throttle into the floorboard. The AMG GT has a dual-clutch seven-speed gearbox that feels streaks ahead of any ‘box Merc has developed. It’s right up there with the best in the business, rifling through upshifts with an equally sharp downshift. Opt for the performance exhaust system – and you should – and at the touch of a button it sends an effervescent fizz down your spine. Barks, pops bangs and gargles, the AMG GT has all the talents that hit the right senses, whether under acceleration or once you lift off the throttle. It sounds crazy.

So it does everything?

Everything a two-seater sportscar is capable of being able to do, the AMG GT does superbly. On our freeway and city jaunt to Gerotek it was comfortable, thanks mostly to the adjustable ride and dynamic engine mounts that work to soften the ride and improve comfort. At high speed it’s stable and planted, and it also weights up the steering so you don’t over adjust it at speed. For a 375 kW sportscar the AMG GT S is actually quite forgiving.

Then we headed for Zwartkops. We experienced the vehicle in Sport mode, which allows a little bit of rear-wheel slip before cutting the power and stopping the fun. The AMG GT S is well balanced and you can really grab it by the scruff of the neck and fling it around, something that is normally quite daunting in a car this powerful. If anything, it picks up a touch of understeer under acceleration as the weight shifts to the rear and causes the front wheels to go light. The more laps we did of the track, the more the car impressed us with its driveability and agility, but in a different, more aggressive way than a Porsche 911 or Audi R8.

Mercedes-AMG GT Pricing

Both the standard GT and GT S will be available in SA and come with both interior and exterior packs to suit the individual buyer. Pricing starts at R1 660 000 for the AMG GT and the AMG GT S is R1 999 000. For similar kicks you can also look at cars like the Porsche 911 Carrera GTS PDK or a Nissan GT-R Black edition. The upcoming Audi R8 will also be in the mix soon.

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