Test Car Specifications
Model tested: Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster
Pricing: £139,445 on-the-road
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-seat roadster
CO2 emissions: 259g/km
Combined economy: 24.8mpg
Top speed: 196mph
0-62mph: 3.7 seconds
Power: 557hp at 5,750- to 6,750rpm
Torque: 680Nm at 1,900- to 5,750rpm
Kerb weight: 1,660kg
Power-to-weight ratio: 335.5hp/tonne
Two things, actually. First up is the new two-seat AMG GT Roadster, a gorgeous open-topped version with a neat fabric roof that folds away in about 11 seconds at speeds of up to 30mph. It's only a little heavier than the equivalent GT coupe, despite structure stiffening measures, and it's offered in the same specifications, other than GT R. Which brings us neatly to the second thing: the introduction of the GT C model. The GT C sits above the GT S in the line-up and it shares quite a bit with the GT R above it. All versions of the GT now get that car's aggressive Panamericana grille, too.
The GT C gets the GT R's wider rear bodywork to accommodate its back axle. Not only does that come with an electronically controlled limited slip differential and bigger wheels and tyres, but there's also a four-wheel-steering system. At speeds of 62mph and less the rear wheels are turned in the opposite direction to the front wheels, effectively shortening the wheelbase and making the GT feel more agile. The opposite happens above that speed, enhancing stability.
The GT C also gets a power hike for the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, with meaty figures of 557hp and 680Nm enabling a 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds and a 196mph top speed for the Roadster version tested here. The entry-level GT Roadster, by comparison, makes 476hp and 630Nm, tops out at 188mph and cracks off the 0-62mph sprint in four seconds dead.
Prices for the new AMG GT Roadster start at £110,145 on-the-road, rising to £139,445 for the GT C Roadster. Mercedes has yet to release pricing for the revised GT coupe line-up. In terms of specification, the GT Roadster features 19-inch alloy wheels, a wind deflector, AMG Performance exhaust, heated AMG sports seats with Airscarf and black leather upholstery. The AMG GT C Roadster adds 19-inch front/20-inch rear alloy wheels, a Burmester sound system, Parktronic with reversing camera, keyless entry and ignition, leather/Dinamica AMG Performance steering wheel and red brake callipers. The Premium equipment line adds £4,195 to the price of the GT to bring it closer in spec to the GT C, while carbon ceramic brakes are £5,995 and AMG Ride Control sports suspension with adaptive damping is £1,495.
Ordering for the GT Roadster range is open now and the first cars should arrive in the UK this summer.
How does it drive?
Fantastically, in a word. We spent most of our time in the GT C Roadster at the launch and it really can do it all. The speed-sensitive power steering is very well-judged and deserves special mention for its feedback, weighting and directness. It's a variable ratio rack up front on all models, but on the C it was possible to make it faster because of the effect of the rear-wheel steering. You aren't really aware of all this trickery at work at any time, but there's no denying the car's breath-taking ability to string a sequence of tight-radius corners together. Yet it's also perfectly happy on poorly surfaced motorways, with little nervousness or tramlining.
Admittedly, the test cars in the States all featured the optional AMG Ride Control system with adjustable damping, which we'd suggest is a must for using this car on UK roads. Even so-equipped, the ultra-low profile tyres conspire with the firm damping to make traversing bad roads a little uncomfortable at times. The regular GT Roadster was a tad better in that regard and overall more suited to an easy going life. Still, if you love driving, go for the GT C.
We don't imagine many buyers of the Roadster will bring it to the track, so the carbon ceramic brakes are superfluous to requirements, but for the record we found them smooth and quiet in operation and very easy to modulate, even when cold in stop-start traffic. That's not always the case with such stoppers. The seven-speed automatic transmission is also perfectly happy to amble along in slow moving traffic, smoothly shifting between its ratios. Dial up the driving modes and it follows suit, of course, with whip crack changes in the Race mode, for example, in which it's distinctly challenging to drive along slowly with anything resembling smoothness. You can tell the transmission back off with its assistance too by pressing the dedicated 'manual' button, allowing you control the gears with tactile paddles found being the nearly-but-not-quite round steering wheel.
That wheel is great to hold and in general the driving position is spot on and noticeably low down in the chassis. You feel cocooned by the doors, high rear bulkhead and the chunky transmission tunnel, which helps reduce buffeting with the roof off, but it doesn't help with visibility out the back - and one of our few criticisms of this car is that the two-seat cockpit is quite cramped. There's not enough oddments storage, a small boot and not quite enough seat movement. Still, so long as you're not too large, you'll get comfortable, and the AMG Performance seats are sensational. Fitted with Airscarf neck-heating and climate control there's little reason to leave the roof up.
And that's just how you'll want it so you can hear the sounds emanating from the exhaust outlets out back. This 4.0-litre V8 engine is nothing short of a masterpiece, and Mercedes UK has sensibly opted to fit the AMG Performance exhaust as standard. That means you can hear the full effect any time you wish at the press of a button. Of course, as the performance numbers reveal, this car is not all mouth and no trousers. The launch control system is easy to use for standing start acceleration runs, but it's the way this engine delivers its seemingly endless torque in the mid-range that will have you coming back for more. Saying that, it sounds so good at high revs that you'll change down unnecessarily at every given opportunity. In short, driving this car is a real occasion.
The AMG GT is sensational in any guise, and the new Roadster option considerably broadens its appeal, with few compromises. Adopting the Panamericana grille, the GT looks even better than before and the Roadster is visually better balanced than its rivals. Not only that, but it drives just as well as the GT coupe and, of course, it brings your ears closer to the sounds the formidable AMG V8 makes. Put simply: we'd probably choose the AMG GT Roadster over a Porsche 911 Cabriolet, despite the lack of practicality. A GT C, preferably, as it's the best model in the newly expanded line-up.