Mercedes-AMG GT review

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Mercedes-AMG has evolved its standard-setting GT coupe. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at the second generation version.

Ten Second Review

The Mercedes-AMG GT reinvents itself in this second generation guise. The exterior changes made to this new Coupe-only model might be subtle, but the fundamental differences this time round are substantial. Porsche 911 customers will need to seriously consider this car as an alternative.

Background

Could Mercedes really build a credible rival to Porsche's iconic 911, we wondered, when the original Mercedes-AMG GT was unveiled back in 2014. The answer, as it turned out, was that the Three-Pointed Star got closer to that super sportscar standard-setter than expected - and plans to edge even closer still with this second generation C192 generation model.

It's the fifth series production road car to be engineered from the ground-up by AMG and has shared its development with the latest Mercedes-AMG SL, alongside which it's built at the brand's Bremen factory in Germany. Don't be fooled by the very lightly evolved styling; much is different here. Primarily a switch to a 2+2 cabin and the adoption of 4WD. There's also a completely new interior, a longer wheelbase and a bigger boot. Sounds promising.

Driving Experience

Mercedes isn't developing any more fossil-fuelled engines, so it's no surprise that this second generation GT uses much the same twin turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 as its predecessor. What is different is the 9-speed AMG Speedshift paddleshift auto gearbox that works with it (replacing the previous 7-speed dual clutch transaxle unit). The biggest engineering change though, is the replacement of the old car's rear wheel drive arrangement with a fully variable four wheel drive system. That comes fitted to both the two mainstream models, the GT 55 4MATIC+ (which puts out 469bhp) and the top GT 63 4MATIC+ (which offers 577bhp). Both power outputs are upgraded over the previous model. Adding 4WD (and this MK2 model's bigger body) has upped kerb weight to a hefty 1,970kgs, but the base '55' variant still makes 62mph in 3.9s on the way to 183mph, figures the '63' version improves to 3.2s and 196mph.

There's an AMG Dynamic Select controller providing a choice of six different drive modes - 'Slippery', 'Comfort', 'Sport', 'Sport+' and 'Race'. And the driver can alter the AMG Dynamics ESC stability system in three steps. The aluminium double-wishbone AMG Active Ride Control suspension uses constantly variable electronic damping, coil springs and active roll stabilisation to suppress body roll. That's further aided by substantial engine bay bracing and a stiffer Modular Sport Architecture platform, a lightweight spaceframe-style structure using a combination of magnesium, steel, aluminium and plastic composites.

Design and Build

This second generation GT model has been visually evolved only lightly - yes, just like Porsche's 911 has been over that model's lifetime. Actually, the design differences here are greater than initial impressions might suggest. At 4,728mm in length, this C192 generation model is 182mm longer than before, as well as being 66mm higher and 45mm wider. As before, the long bonnet, curved roof line and angled tailgate deliver a cab-back profile. And there are big 20-inch wheels, with 21-inch rims optional. This time round, there's only going to be a Coupe body shape.

Inside, it really is all new, the cabin shared with the Mercedes-AMG SL. Which means you get a 12.3-inch instrument binnacle screen and a portrait-orientated 11.9-inch infotainment display, both featuring AMG-specific menus and graphics. There's an AMG Performance three-spoke wheel and the sculpted front sports seats have integrated headrests and automatically-activating side bolsters that tighten according to drive mode.

The big change with this MK2 GT model though, is the switch to a 2+2 cabin configuration, made possible by 70mm extension in wheelbase length. That means you get a pair of 911-style rear seats, though these are only intended for use by small children. They can be folded down to extend the larger 321-litre trunk capacity right up to 675-litres.

Market and Model

Expect pricing for this Coupe model starting at just above the £125,000 mark. Obvious rivals are coupe versions of Porsche's 911, the Audi R8 and the Aston Martin Vantage. Maybe also the McLaren GT. Expect more powerful, pricier GT versions of this Mercedes to quickly follow - there are rumours of hybrid technology variants with power outputs of over 700bhp. There'll be a GT3 racing model too.

Across the range, all the main things you'll want are standard, including constantly variable electronic damping, active roll stabilisation and four-wheel steering, which sees the rear wheels offering up to 2.5-degrees of steering angle. You get a very beefy set of brakes too, which combine 390mm still discs with 6-piston aluminium calipers up front, while there are 360mm steel discs and single-piston floating aluminium calipers at the rear. Standard safety features include active brake assist, lane keeping assist, speed limit warning, attention assist and a reversing camera.

As you'd expect, this second generation GT offers lots of scope for personalisation, including cabin fittings like AMG Performance seats and track-ready upgrades like carbon ceramic brakes.

Cost of Ownership

You won't be expecting this GT to be frugal, especially with its increase in weight. Sure enough, average consumption for both variants barely gets above 20mpg and CO2 emissions on the WLTP cycle are rated at just 319g/km. At least the slippery aerodynamics help. This MK2 model gets a so-called 'Active air control' system inside the grille to alter airflow into the engine bay. Plus there's a retractable rear spoiler that deploys at 50mph offering up to five different wing angle settings; and a carbon fibre element in the underbody that lowers by 40mm at speed to create a slippery venturi effect.

Service intervals for this GT will depend on how far you drive and under what conditions - but Mercedes does as usual offer 'ServiceCare', which allows you to spread your bills into manageable payments, guarantees the price of parts and labour for up to four services, and covers the cost of recommended service items such as brake fluid, spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters and screen wash. Another thing we'll need to tell you is that the comprehensive three year unlimited mileage warranty is built upon by Mercedes' Mobilo scheme which delivers breakdown cover for up to thirty years, as long as you continue to have your car serviced at a Mercedes main dealer.

Summary

This second generation GT is a much more complete product - and a much more complete competitor to its Porsche 911 arch-rival. Michael Schiebe, AMG's CEO, says the addition of 4WD to this C192-generation model is key, making it a car owners can use in winter conditions with much greater peace of mind. Almost equally important is the switch to a 2+2 cabin format, making this a Mercedes sportscar you could go touring in. In that respect, it's a much better prospect than its Mercedes-AMG SL roadster partner model.

Because of the existence of that car, there was really no point in doing an open top version of this GT this time round, but customers might be slightly disappointed that so much inside is shared with the SL. The weight increase may also harm this GT in 911 handling comparisons. Overall though, there's been a big step forward here. If you're thinking Porsche, McLaren or Aston Martin in this segment, you simply have to factor in this Mercedes too.

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