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Driven: Mercedes-AMG GT S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.

Driven: Mercedes-AMG GT S
Itís not quite perfect, but the dramatic AMG GT S is still tremendous fun to drive.

   



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Mercedes-AMG GT S

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: The drama, the looks, the performance, the noise, the feeling of being a bit different

Not so good: A Porsche 911 is a defter machine at the limit

Key Facts

Model tested: Mercedes-AMG GT S
Price: AMG GT range starts from £98,760; GT S from £111,495, car as tested £131,055
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, seven-speed AMG Speedshift MCT automatic
Body style: two-door coupe
CO2 emissions: 219/km (VED £1,200 first 12 months, then £450 per annum next five years, then £140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 30.1mpg
Top speed: 193mph
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
Power: 510hp at 6,250rpm
Torque: 650Nm at 1,750- to 4,500rpm

Our view:

Take one look at the outrageous, 193mph Mercedes-AMG GT S - a car that, if the conditions are right, will rip from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds - and the last things you'd think it would need are more theatre or additional pace. But, of course, that's not how the world/automotive industry works, so the S has been surpassed by both 'C' and 'R' within just a few months of the GT being launched. So, does the 510hp S still feel special?

Well, of course it does. Built to be a more compact, sportier car to drive than its thunderous SLS forebear, the machine most squarely in the GT's crosshairs from launch was a certain Stuttgart-built evolution of the Volkswagen Beetle, with its engine in the wrong place and a legion of unrelenting, stubborn internet supporters ready to decry anything that dares be compared to the (yes, here it comes...) Porsche 911.

Yet... well... this is a difficult one, but... isn't the 911 just a bit boring? A bit too obvious? Of all the exotic sports cars out there, in terms of the numbers on the roads the Porsche 911 must be way in advance of all the potential rivals put together. It's (whisper it) common. And there are plenty of interesting rivals nowadays, too, like the Jaguar F-Type R or the Audi R8 V10 plus, but we think this Mercedes-AMG might well be the pick of the lot.

To drive, it's nothing like a 911, which is perhaps understandable given the two cars have such different layouts and thus completely different physical forms. And the Mercedes looks by far the more interesting. With that gigantic snout and the taut rear end, it's utterly incredible to behold and it's particularly good in a bright, lurid colour. We completely adore the aesthetic of the GT S, no doubt about it.

The gobsmacking exterior isn't let down by the cabin, either, with the driving position of some note - you feel like you're sitting half a mile back from the AMG's prow - and the centre console riddled with those eight circular buttons either side of the Comand controller, with a stumpy little gear lever behind. It's great in here, but Mercedes' almost deliberately bloody-minded layout of switchgear reaches bamboozling new levels in the GT. For instance, the hazard warning and heated seat switches are in the headlining of the car; try as you might to constantly remind yourself of this fact, you'll no doubt be groping blindly and erroneously around the door cards for one or the other of them if you're driving and not paying the fullest of attention.

And, on that note, the way the GT S drives is wonderful, but it's no 911. It lacks the deftness and precision of that smaller car, although it's not quite the rough sledgehammer that the SLS was. The main issues with the Mercedes-AMG revolve around its slightly twitchy back end, despite the fact it is actually 50Nm down on torque compared to the same 510hp engine in a C 63 S, and that enormous conk. Positioning the long and wide GT S on a narrow lane isn't the most precise of affairs, and if you're injudicious with the throttle - even in the dry - you'll feel the rear wheels squirming for grip and traction in most of the 7G-Tronic's ratios up to fourth.

But, by crikey, the visual spectacle of the GT S is replicated in its drive. It's a thrilling machine to steer, that biturbo V8 making absolutely all the right noises and providing a quite ludicrous amount of all-revs shove, while the steering is a real plus point: communicative, weighted to near perfection and precise in its responses. Optional £6,000 carbon ceramic brakes were fitted to our test car and they provide the massive retardation you'd expect of such expensive anchors, but brilliantly they work usefully well even when cold and the brake pedal has lovely progression, with no top-end snatching to mar their eye-popping performance. Thus, while there is a little bit of fight in the GT S when you're trying to muscle it down your typical British back road, it's not unruly and the car provides a riveting experience to the lucky person behind the wheel.

Of course, its name includes 'GT' and when you throttle the big Merc back, it does a damn fine job of making you forget its primary function is as a near-200mph sports car. Those mammoth 20-inch wheels on very wide, very low-profile tyres don't quite give the AMG Bentley-rivalling levels of ride comfort, but it's more than supple enough to provide largely cosseting long-distance manners, while in its more docile engine settings the V8's grunt is easy to marshal with minimal throttle openings. You can basically tool around in the GT S as if it were nothing more rumbustious than a C 250 d Coupe. And it'll still sound completely magnificent, even if you never venture past 3,000rpm.

There are a few further issues. While we don't expect any 500hp+ car to be exactly thrifty on fuel, a return of 19mph pottering on local roads isn't the best news in the world, while 28mpg on a steady 70mph run doesn't match up to what a (sigh...) 911 Turbo S would give back; we once got 35mpg out of the 560hp Porsche on a long jaunt up the M1. And given the starting price of the GT S is £111,000, with another two models above it in its own hierarchy, then being able to slap £20,000 of options onto it seems a bit rum.

But, despite the few niggles, we'd still have the Mercedes-AMG rather than any 911 this side of a GT3. There's a tremendous sense of occasion when travelling in the GT S, while it's a marvellous thing to simply gawp at in the metal. It's not quite the perfect sports car, but it is immensely appealing and a very, very special thing to drive in all situations. And what more can you ask for from a £131,000 hunk of Teutonic madness than that?

Alternatives:

Aston Martin V12 Vantage: So many Astons to choose from but this compact coupe with a V12 shoehorned into its conk can match the AMG GT S for aural histrionics.

Audi R8 V10 plus: Stunning all-rounder with an absolute gem of a V10 wedged into its midriff, the R8's only weakness is - strangely, for an Audi - a slightly underwhelming cabin.

Porsche 911 GT3: The obvious sports car choice and the vehicle the GT S directly targets. GT3 is of course a blinding thing to steer but 911s are so common, aren't they? So why not try the AMG?


Matt Robinson - 3 Nov 2017



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








 

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