GT S has the right stuff for top award
FOUR LAPS AT EXTREME SPEED IS ALL IT TAKES FOR AMG GT S TO PROVE ITS CREDENTIALS
It’s the time of year when attention turns to Car of the Year candidates and international motoring publications start handing out awards for the best vehicles of 2015.
Some cars just have the “it” factor. Others win for their style. Others have so much technology packed into nifty price packages. Then there are the luxury vehicles that make you giddy just thinking about driving them, let alone once you get behind the wheel.
For me, one of the cars that has stood out in the sports vehicle section is the all-new Mercedes-AMG GT S.
The latest evolution from Mercedes-Benz’s performance division was launched internationally earlier this year and is now on sale in New Zealand.
The 4-litre, V8 biturbo, mid-engine car produces 375kW of power and a maximum 650Nm of torque, is paired with a seven-speed twin-clutch transmission with a top speed of 310km/h, and goes from stop to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds.
It is priced from $275,000 with the Edition 1 model tagged at $294,900.
And it seems I’m not the only one who thinks there is something special about the AMG GT S.
US car magazine Motor Trend has just awarded it Best Driver’s Car against nine other sports cars.
The GT S was tested at California’s Laguna Seca race track where it easily achieved the best lap time of 1:35.57 minutes, one of the top three times ever recorded on the circuit.
Having been on the Norwell race track in Australia in a GT S I can testify to its performance but I was also lucky enough to have hot laps at the track with AMG chief executive Tobias Moers.
While Moers has been AMG’s CEO since 2013, he has worked at the company for 15 years, overseeing every aspect of the sports performance vehicles.
“I feel as if I’ve got it all right with the GT S. In some cases I think we could improve [the vehicle] but with this car I think we have it right,” Moers told me during my four-circuit, extreme-speed ride with him.
The GT S is loosely based on the previous Mercedes SLS and is aimed as a direct competitor to the Porsche 911. There’s even a hint of Porsche with the round rear of the vehicle, though that shape now means the sports coupe gets a big enough boot to fit two golf bags.
Mercedes-Benz NZ was predicting sales of 30 units but, since its launch, the company says it is trying to get its hands on as many GT S cars as possible to meet the needs of customers.
It’s easy to see why the car is winning over Kiwis.
Its exterior styling combines a sleek, long “nose” — all the better for sniffing out those tight corners — and a cabin sitting low to the rear of the body.
The cabin is a cosy affair with a sleek dash and a V-shaped centre console, with three settings (Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus) within easy access of the driver.
The settings alter the suspension, engine and transmission set-up with Comfort best for around town, and amping up the speed when on motorways or quiet country roads, the car crackles to life in Sport set-up.
There is assurance as the 1645kg rear-wheel drive takes on tight corners, and as it downshifts you get the bonus of the crackle from the exhaust.
Sitting under that “nose” is the 4-litre engine and, for the first time, Mercedes mounted the turbocharges within the top of the engine instead of the side, with AMG calling it, “hot inside V”.
The company reckons this will give the engine better response and after its performance on the Laguna Seca track, they may be right.