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First ride: Mercedes-AMG GT R. Image by Mercedes-AMG.

First ride: Mercedes-AMG GT R
We've been around the Nürburgring in Mercedes-AMG's new GT R - in the wrong seat, admittedly...

 



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Mercedes-AMG GT R

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We can't tell you exactly how the spectacular Mercedes-AMG GT R drives yet, but a couple of fast laps around the Nürburgring with the man who helped develop the AMG GT R at the wheel was pretty revealing.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Mercedes-AMG GT R
Engine: 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbocharged petrol
Body style: two-seat coupe
CO2 emissions: 259g/km (Band M, £505 per year)
Combined economy: 34.4mpg
Top speed: 197mph
0-62mph: 3.6 seconds
Power: 585hp at 6,250rpm
Torque: 700Nm at 1,900- to 5,500rpm

What's this?

A passenger ride in AMG's hottest sports car offering around the track its 'green hell magno' paint reverentially nods to. That's the Nürburgring in case you're wondering, and the GT R is AMG's foil to the Porsche 911 GT3 RS and a host of other high-end track-focused sports cars and supercars. Thomas Jäger is responsible for operating the controls today; we're sat alongside trying to make sense of how such a mild mannered chap outside the car can subject us to such silly forces around this famously testing circuit. All thirteen miles of it. Twice. Jäger hasn't only bee racing this car's twin at the weekends, but also helped develop the GT R into the car you'll be able to buy soon. As with any track-focused car there has been a lot of changes to increase focus and speed; visually, they're obvious (a wider track and some far more extrovert aerodynamic revisions that lend it the pit lane refugee look), but it's underneath where the real detail is.

A poke around the car with Dr Frank Emhardt, Senior Manager Vehicle Development AMG GT Model Range, is pretty revealing. Yes there's some weight loss, just 15kg overall, but that only tells a part of the story. It's bigger than the GT S, the wider track clothed by swollen front and rear wings. They're constructed of carbon fibre up front and aluminium at the back, while the suspension, hubs and wheels all have had mass shaved off by use of aluminium and forged alloys. There are carbon ceramic brakes - as an option (everyone will) - that reduces the unsprung weight even further. The GT R's specification reads like a weight fetishist's wish list of light but strong materials, including aluminium, carbon fibre, titanium and magnesium. Underlining the level of obsession the people at AMG have undergone to shift mass and increase immediacy and control there's even a carbon fibre propshaft, though Emhardt concedes that, to achieve the Nürburgring lap time that AMG was aiming for (7 mins 20 seconds if you're interested), some fancy technology was required, which increased weight, but also brought some serious advantages with it. So there's active aero for a start, the 2kg it adds in physical mass offset by the useful 40kg plus of additional downforce it can achieve. The rear-wheel steering system obviously has a weight penalty, but the stability and improved turn in response is a worthy trade-off, too.

Obviously there are some revisions to the engine, as well. The 4.0-litre V8 gains new brains, turbos that spin faster and harder, revised fuelling, improved cooling and more detail changes to bump maximum output to 585hp. A lighter flywheel sees it spin up to its peak power with even greater enthusiasm, titanium exhausts create an even more rousing sound and the transaxle-mounted seven-speed paddle-shifted twin-clutch auto changes with more immediacy, while both it and the engine hang off active mounts to prevent chassis-troubling weight transfer.

How does it drive?

Jäger says it's the best road car he's ever driven around here, but then that's hardly surprising he's saying that given the amount of time he's spent developing it. With a recent drive of its lesser, but still brilliant AMG GT S, still fresh in my memory, sitting in the passenger seat alongside him is pretty revealing, the greater intensity of the entire package obvious, starting with the sound emanating from those titanium exhausts. The note's even richer, more boisterous, which is entirely in keeping with the GT R's greater focus.

There are no multi-point harnesses inside, as the interior is largely unchanged over a well-specified GT S except for a few extra menus on the screens specific to the GT R and a knob in the centre console that gives nine (yes nine) different levels for the traction control. Jäger has it on six, as any more gives too much slip to the detriment of lap times. There are three suspension modes via AMG Ride Control, the familiar Comfort, Sport and Sport+, though the latter is a bit extreme for the bumps around here. If you've got your spanners handy the coil-over springs can be adjusted to your liking, likewise the rear wing can be fiddled with, though if you're going to mess about with it to that extent you might as well go racing.

Jäger is not hanging about; with an empty track and familiarity he's able to monster the GT R around the Nürburgring's lumpy, bumpy, tight and testing 13 miles with the sort of ease that most of us do a commute. He admits he'd love the active rear-wheel steering on his racing car, saying the improvements it makes to the front axle's turn in are worth the weight penalty it brings, likewise the stability at speed and when cornering are hugely beneficial, too. Certainly, even from the passenger seat the way Jäger can trust the front axle is impressive, the turn in quick and precise, likewise its high speed stability when changing direction. The optional carbon ceramic brakes are mighty, their retardation underlining the need for something better than a standard three-point belt to hold me in. Their performance remains undiminished even after Jäger has mercilessly asked them for their all repeatedly around the German track. The engine's greater power helps flatten the huge gradients around the Nürburgring, that aero package and the wider track allowing its greater speed to be carried everywhere. The body control is excellent, traction clearly impressive even on particularly testing areas like the lumpy exit of the karussell.

From the passenger seat Jäger makes it all look easy, though like all the best drivers the efficiency of his movement and fine control never fully betrays how busy he is. He admits that, like the SLS GT3 racer he helped develop before it, the GT R shouldn't be difficult for mere driving mortals to enjoy. We'll see how that pans out when we eventually get to sit in the correct seat for ourselves, but if two laps around here reveal anything it's that the Porsche 911 GT3 RS is going to have some keen competition when the AMG GT R starts reaching pit lanes on track days...

Verdict

As much as we can ascertain from the 'wrong' seat, AMG seems to have delivered exactly what it promised. A harder, more focused and engaging AMG GT, the GT R, which, given the starting point, is something indeed. That the new GT C Roadster gains some of its tech can only be a good thing too, as the GT S will inevitably benefit when it's updated, adding some of the R's intensity to an already exciting line-up.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

2 2 2 2 2 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

3 3 3 3 3 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Kyle Fortune - 15 Sep 2016









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2017 Mercedes-AMG GT R. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2017 Mercedes-AMG GT R. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2017 Mercedes-AMG GT R. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2017 Mercedes-AMG GT R. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2017 Mercedes-AMG GT R. Image by Mercedes-AMG.

2017 Mercedes-AMG GT R. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2017 Mercedes-AMG GT R. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2017 Mercedes-AMG GT R. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2017 Mercedes-AMG GT R. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2017 Mercedes-AMG GT R. Image by Mercedes-AMG.








 

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