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First drive: Mercedes-AMG GT four-door. Image by Mercedes UK.

First drive: Mercedes-AMG GT four-door
Mercedes-AMG locks missile-targeting on the Porsche Panamera and scores a direct hit, with the storming GT 63 S four-door.


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Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

How do you stop your customers from steadily bleeding away to buy the Porsche Panamera? That was the dilemma facing Mercedes-AMG and the German concern has decided that the best approach is 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em'. So it has stretched its GT two-door sports car into a four-door model (which is a slightly simplistic, and also not technically accurate, summation) to create the quite-possibly-Panamera beating AMG GT four-door. The best news is that this latest Affalterbach creation is a truly blinding bit of kit.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door
Pricing: GT four-door from 121,350; GT 63 S from 135,550
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: 4Matic+ all-wheel drive with electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential, nine-speed AMG Speedshift automatic
Body style: five-door coupe (see copy)
CO2 emissions: 257g/km (VED Band Over 255: 2,070 first 12 months, then 450 per annum years two to six of ownership, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 22.1mpg
Top speed: 196mph
0-62mph: 3.2 seconds
Power: 639hp at 5,500-6,500rpm
Torque: 900Nm at 2,500-4,500rpm
Boot space: 461-1,324 litres (depends on the 750 three-seat rear bench with folding backrests being fitted)

What's this?

The answer to a question nobody outside AMG thought to ask: what would the AMG GT sports car be like if it was longer, and had two more doors? Apparently, the AMG GT four-door, to give it its proper honorific, was built to plug a customer leak at the top of Mercedes-AMG's pile. Despite the presence of such luxury items as the aforementioned GT, plus AMG-ified examples of the venerable SL (with both V8 and V12 power), and the similarly opulent S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet pairing, it seemed there was a disconnect with people buying the ostensibly more 'practical' (and we use this term very loosely...) AMGs - like the C 63 and E 63 S supersaloons. They just weren't migrating up to all the sports cars, roadsters and grand coupes offered at the top of the AMG tree.

But where were they going? Well, to Porsche, natch. Because, apparently, once you've owned an E 63 S, the next logical step is to plump for a Panamera. Obviously, this simply Would Not Do in the eyes of the top brass in Affalterbach, hence the AMG GT four-door was conceived. And, like we said at the top of the piece, despite it looking similar on the outside, truthfully this is not a stretched AMG GT. It's in fact based on the same platform as an E-Class or a CLS, the latter car bringing some particular confusion to the concept of 'high-class four-door performance coupes' because it has previously been available with monster V8s in its first two generations and is already togged up with the '53'-badged AMG hybrid drivetrain in its current Mk3 guise. However, while you can get a CLS with Benz badging and, say, a diesel engine, you will be able to do no such thing with the Mercedes-AMG-only GT four-door. Its mere presence is enough for Mercedes to say that there will not be a Mk3 V8 CLS, for fear of it treading on its big brother's toes.

In other markets, the AMG GT four-door will be available with the V6 and straight-six hybrid drivetrains that merit '43' and '53' badging respectively, but the expectation here in the UK is that they will solely be offered as thunderous V8s, with maybe some EQ-Boost hybrid-assisted derivations of these motors down the line. For now, though, what a pair of AMG GT four-doors we have. There are just two, the GT 63 and then the GT 63 S. Either is powered by the 4.0-litre, hot-inside-V biturbo V8 petrol, wet-sumped in this application (unlike the dry-sumped unit in the ferocious AMG GT R), which sends its power to all four wheels (4Matic+) via an AMG Speedshift nine-speed automatic transmission. Both gain air suspension, active aerodynamics (known as the Airpanel at the front, in the radiator grille, and epitomised by a moveable spoiler at the back) and rear-wheel steering - like the GT C and GT R models at the upper ends of their model lines - and both cost well north of 100,000. The 63 rocks in at 121,350, while adding an S to that number chucks another 14,200 onto the ticket for a base price of 135,550. Of course, there are still plenty of options beyond this that can elevate either car's windscreen sticker into the region of 150,000, but let's focus on the base differences for now.

The GT 63 has its 4.0-litre V8 in 585hp/800Nm trim. That's enough to hurl 2.1 tonnes of finest German engineering at the horizon at a rate of 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds, with a top speed of 193mph. Not enough for you? Are you insane? The GT 63 S gains not just extra power and even more performance - with 639hp and 900Nm, and only another 20kg to carry, it'll run 0-62mph in a searing 3.2 seconds and top out at 196mph - but also the usual 'S' accoutrements: such as dynamic engine mounts, an electronically controlled locking diff on the rear axle, a 'Race' driving setting with 'Drift Mode', different 20-inch alloys, a Dinamica-upholstered AMG Performance steering wheel and yellow brake callipers. Equipment is generous on both, though, while the interior is sumptuously finished, dotted with endless digital displays (not just the gorgeous Widescreen Cockpit; every button on the transmission tunnel and the drive setting switches on the steering wheel are electronic, with only a few physical rotary/toggle elements) and big enough for four fully-grown adults. Option up the 750 three-seat rear bench (the AMG GT four-door is a four-seater as standard) and the Mercedes technically becomes a five-door, because then the second-row seat backs fold down - allowing for more cargo space and the ability to access the cabin via the fastback hatch.

How does it drive?

Before we get onto the driving experience afforded by the AMG GT four-door, a word on its aesthetics. It sets expectations high, well before you get in and turn over the brutal V8. It's not classically beautiful, per se, and some of the visual tautness of the two-door GT is lost in the four-door's longer midriff, but we still think it's a suitably expensive-looking and aggressive thing. The Panamera might be far easier on the eye in its current, second generation than it was in its first, but the Mercedes is the more appealing creation. It is particularly handsome in its designo and magno special matte-effect paints, although bear in mind these will set you back 1,695 and 2,145 respectively.

We drove both the GT 63 and the S, perhaps spending more time in the former in more favourable conditions, but we're going to focus on the latter. However, we'd like to put it on the record that the 585hp/800Nm GT 63 is hardly slow. Not even in the slightest. Nor is it particularly lacking in handling prowess, breadth of talent on the ride quality front nor for acoustic drama. It is, in short, a quite wonderful vehicle that would surely get a Panamera Turbo rather hot under the collar.

However, the GT 63 S is a proper hooligan. Driven in the teeth of a Scottish snowstorm, at night, on one of the country's glorious old military roads (in this case, the B974 between Strachan and Clattering Bridge), there was a degree of circumspection shown that perhaps was lacking the next day in the 585hp GT, driven in sunnier, drier climes, but even so, the GT 63 S felt absolutely immense. The performance is stratospheric. This is as you might expect of something churning 900Nm into the tarmac through grippy sports rubber, sure, but it's still enough to take your breath away when the full fury of the 4.0-litre engine hits in any of the lower five gears - it's undoubtedly a more fiercely accelerative, round-the-rev-counter performer than even the stellar AMG GT R.

Sounds tremendous, too, with yet another, subtly distinctive soundtrack from the oh-so-familiar 4.0-litre V8. The GT 63 S doesn't particularly sound much like its multitude of brethren that employ this unit (which, lest we forget, was originally developed for and made its debut in the AMG GT two-door itself) and thus has its own strident, growling tone. Complete with the standard-fit-across-the-line-up AMG Performance Exhaust, overlaying everything with its usual cackling array of pops, rasps and thuds in the car's sportier modes, the AMG GT 63 S is most pleasing on the ear.

The handling astounds even more than the ridiculous straight-line performance, mind. It has an agility and keenness to turn in that is quite preternatural on a 2,120kg car that's more than five metres long, aided and abetted most handsomely by that four-wheel steering. It'll enact flick-flack direction changes with an impeccably iron-fisted, level-bodied sense of total control that it feels almost un-crash-able (dangerous phrase, that...), while it also enjoys bounding into, then powering out of, the tightest, most nuggety of corners with a disdain that's borderline comical. Throw in the stupendous traction advantages of 4Matic+ and the cross-country pace the AMG GT 63 S can summon up would probably embarrass one of the legendary Impreza WRC cars of the 1990s, never mind anything that's road-going and four-wheel drive.

Naturally, it functions equally as well as a grand tourer, with first-class noise suppression and adjustable air suspension with adaptive dampers that combine to do a damned fine job of convincing you that you're rolling on wheels a good four inches smaller in diameter than they actually are. The throttle control is wonderfully well-judged, so that it doesn't feel like you're performing a task akin to restraining a furious tiger while you're just trickling the AMG through towns, and the silky nine-speeder is a gem when you merely need it to slush unobtrusively through its many ratios. Indeed, the only minor gripes we have - and they are minor - are these: in Sport+ mode, the suspension can get a little bit discombobulated by washboard surfaces, although you'd be surprised at how good even this firmest setting is at all other times on British roads; and no matter how good the AMG GT 63 S is at masking its sheer bulk with its frankly preposterous acceleration, its unrelenting body control and its rapier-like steering, on the brakes you can sometimes feel that this is a big, hefty car that you're trying to stop from high speed - you'll underestimate the pedal pressure you need to haul it in a few times at first. Other than these observations, though, it's a glowing report card for this Panamera rival. A report card so bright, in fact, that the Porsche might just be knocked off its perch... seems like AMG nailed its customer retention design brief 100 per cent successfully, then.


At the moment, we keep comparing the AMG GT four-door to the Panamera, because there's nothing else quite like these two on sale right now. Sure, before too long, BMW's revived 8 Series will no doubt spawn an M8 Gran Coupe and swell the four-door, hyper-performance, coupe-like-saloon ranks to three - although you could argue the AMG GT is so desirable that it's also a rival to the likes of the Maserati Quattroporte, a Bentley Flying Spur or a Ferrari GTC4Lusso.

But whatever you might think about its extraordinary cost, or the fact an E 63 S probably does 95 per cent of the things the AMG GT 63 S does for considerably less cash, or the tenuousness (or otherwise) of its links to the GT sports car, or the continuing abuse of the word 'coupe' in the automotive world, or the narrowness of the marketplace it competes in, what you cannot deny about the latest Mercedes-AMG is this: it's quite simply a magnificent, sensational and remarkable machine. Move over, Panamera, because there's a new king in town.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 22 Jan 2019

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2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door. Image by Mercedes UK.

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S four-door. Image by Mercedes UK.


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