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First UK drive: Mercedes-AMG GT S. Image by Mercedes.

First UK drive: Mercedes-AMG GT S
When we drove the Mercedes-AMG GT S around Laguna Seca it impressed us, and does so again back in the UK

   



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Mercedes-AMG GT S

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

With its front mid-mounted turbocharged V8, rear-wheel drive and plenty of balance and poise, the Mercedes-AMG GT S is a clear answer to your 'don't want a Porsche 911' questions.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Mercedes-AMG GT S
Price: 110,510 (138,655 as tested)
Engine: turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-seat coupe
CO2 emissions: 219g/km (Band K, 290 per year)
Combined economy: 30.1mpg
Top speed: 193mph
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
Power: 510hp at 6,250rpm
Torque: 650Nm at 1,750- to 4,750rpm

What's this?

A revisit; prior to the launch of the hotly anticipated Mercedes-AMG GT R we thought we'd have a run in a GT S for familiarisation - ok, as an excuse - and we'd not driven it on UK roads. The GT S is a two-seat, front-mid-engined, V8-engined riot that impressed us back when we drove it at its initial launch, and it has done much the same here. Throw out any preconceptions you might have that it's a bit of a dragster; yes there's a bit of muscle car about the GT, but there's genuine sports car finesse, enough even to upset the Porsche 911 that pretty much defines the class.

Unlike its ubiquitous rival, the GT S is a genuinely rare spot, and it's likely you'll hear it before you see it given the bombastic tones emanating from under that impossibly long bonnet and the quad exhausts at its rear. Proportionally its all nose, with a squat cabin; the 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 sits so far back behind the front wheels it's almost right behind the dashboard. That's all to the benefit of balance; the GT S might promise AMG's usual riotous output and wayward backside, but there's genuine sophistication to the chassis, and traction to spare. Obviously it'll be an idiotic hooligan if you've a tyre account and a track to hand, the GT S is still an AMG after all, but it's not its defining characteristic - it's a more talented thing than you might initially anticipate.

How does it drive?

AMGs are, by definition, a little bit outrageous, and the GT S is no exception, but that monstrous performance is backed up with a chassis that offers real poise, composure and genuinely surprising agility. The 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 engine utterly dispels any concerns about turbocharging, the immediacy of response is never in question and the noise it makes as it tears around its rev counter is sensational. On overrun it sounds like someone's shoved a box of fireworks up its tailpipe such is the crackling. It's a car that's big on engagement, in every sense, as the steering is quick and well weighted, giving the front axle a keenness to turn in that's initially quite shocking - and genuinely unexpected. It'd be improved by a steering set-up with a bit more feel, as you need to learn to trust the front end grip rather than genuinely feel for it, though get through that and the GT S turns with real accuracy, and the balance is spot on, too.

AMG's traditional weakness has often been traction, but the GT S, so long as you're not provoking it, provides plenty. Sampled here with the optional AMG Dynamic Plus pack, a 1.795 option that includes dynamic engine and transmission mounts, firmer suspension and a specific engine map in Race or Manual modes, it adds more intensity into the mix, without being detrimental to the ride comfort. Indeed, given the clear focus of the GT S, its ability to smother the worst UK roads is impressive, with only the roughest surfaces upsetting its composure.

You needn't fear damp or wet conditions either, even in its more focused drive modes - which are selected by an easy dial on the huge transmission tunnel. The Individual mode works best, with everything dialled up to its most hardcore apart from the suspension, as the firmer setting only adds unwanted frequency and harshness, to the detriment of its ability to cover ground. Fiddling with all those settings does highlight the somewhat un-Mercedes like ergonomics, the positioning of the auto shifter somewhere near your elbow not its finest point. Neither is it as practical as its 911 rival, being a two-seater only, but hell, if you can afford this then you can buy a Mercedes-AMG A 45 as a family runabout, too.

Sling the shifter into drive, select manual mode and change gears via the paddles. The seven-speed transmission unit is based on that of the SLS AMG that proceeded it, though thankfully AMG has updated the electronics. It'll now downshift on demand, unlike in the SLS where it habitually second-guessed you. Even so it doesn't feel quite as immediate as the best dual-clutch systems out there, but it doesn't frustrate and dominate the experience like it did in the SLS. Indeed, the GT S feels pretty far removed from its predecessor; it's lighter, significantly more agile and exploitable yet still as outrageously quick. The 4.0-litre engine is mighty, its performance sensational and its soundtrack intoxicating, but it's mated to a chassis and transmission that allow it to be used to tremendous effect, and as a result it never anything less than an event to drive.

Verdict

The most complete AMG we've driven, the GT S has a chassis that can use all its massive performance to fantastic effect. It's a hilariously engaging sports car, that's old-school in its thrills and intensity without feeling unsophisticated or outdated. A 911 Turbo will monster it with its four-wheel drive traction advantage, and has the benefit of a pair of seats in the back, but you'll have more fun more of the time in the AMG, quite significantly so. That GT R version, when we eventually get in it, should be something else again...

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3 3 3 3 3 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

3 3 3 3 3 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Kyle Fortune - 7 Sep 2016



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Mercedes-AMG GT S first UK drive. Image by Mercedes.Mercedes-AMG GT S first UK drive. Image by Mercedes.Mercedes-AMG GT S first UK drive. Image by Mercedes.Mercedes-AMG GT S first UK drive. Image by Mercedes.Mercedes-AMG GT S first UK drive. Image by Mercedes.

Mercedes-AMG GT S first UK drive. Image by Mercedes.Mercedes-AMG GT S first UK drive. Image by Mercedes.Mercedes-AMG GT S first UK drive. Image by Mercedes.Mercedes-AMG GT S first UK drive. Image by Mercedes.Mercedes-AMG GT S first UK drive. Image by Mercedes.








 

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