Mercedes-AMG GT C: Hit the Roadster
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During an interview at the Geneva motor show, AMG boss Tobias Moers mentioned that whenever he tests one of his products, he always turns off traction control, and puts it in track mode.
“Oh I know,” I replied, “you’ve taken me for a hot lap in a Mercedes-AMG GT S.”
The first AMG GT S was launched in 2015 and Moers was in Australia for the grand prix and the media drive of the sports car at the Norwell track in Queensland.
I asked him to take me for a hot lap because who knows the car the most than the man who helped develop it?
Moers has been AMG’s CEO since 2013, but has worked with the company for 18 years, overseeing every aspect of the sports performance vehicles.
I spent most of the two hot laps going sideways as the GT S coupe was worked harder than any motoring writer could attempt.
As I whooped my delight while we drifted in quick succession around two tight bends, he said “I’m only giving you 80 per cent [capacity] because I’m CEO of the company so I don’t want to break the car.”
At the Geneva motor show two years ago, when I was again interviewing Moers, I asked him to confirm my source’s tip-off that a roadster of the GT was going into production.
Reluctantly he confirmed it. But realistically, it was a no-brainer. The moment you saw the GT, a topless version made sense, and AMG thought so when it first created the GT S coupe.
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History of the brand also made it a given. The predecessor of the GTS, the SLS, came as a roadster, too, while Mercedes has soft-top versions of the C-, E- and S-Class sedans.
Like the GT coupe, the roadster has a 4-litre, eight-cylinder bi turbo engine, producing 350kW of power and 630Nm of torque. It has a seven-speed transmission, rear wheel drive, and sits on 19in AMG 5 twin-spoke alloy wheels.
It is priced from $267,000.
The roadster sits on top of the same chassis that forms the basis of the remarkably capable AMG GT coupe.
It’s a beautiful-looking vehicle, reminiscent of 1950s roadsters thanks to the long hood and low profile, with the added muscular rear end a nod it its arch-nemesis, the Porsche 911.
And that long hood is deceiving, as the bonnet doesn’t just conceal the engine; instead it also covers the radiator with a substantial gap before the grille.
Like the coupe, the AMG GT roadster is snug inside. And you’d better pack light, as the boot is small (but slightly larger than the Jaguar F-Type roadster).
The roof folds behind the leather sports seats and, inside, the GT roadster contains the same dash as the coupe, with analogue dials, an infoscreen and four centre vents.
The console has buttons for dynamic settings but my niggle was the gear knob was set too far back and I kept getting the long sleeves of my tops caught in it.
When complimented on my test car by strangers, I usually admit that the vehicle isn’t mine — but with the GT roadster, I lied. I felt a close connection to the vehicle as I had a “scoop” at Geneva two years ago of it going into production.
At an inner city Auckland supermarket car park, a fellow shopper said, “I love your car.” “Thank you,” I replied nonchalantly.
Thumbs up by other drivers got a smug “yes, I own this roadster” look.
But it’s not all about looks. It’s what under that polished metal that counts.
The eight-cylinder bi turbo engine has the dull turbo notes but the sports exhaust provides plenty of pops and excitement.
You have Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes that change the dynamics of the car.
Comfort is fine for around town, you’d want the roadster in Sport for the motorway and off on to challenging winding roads the best setting is Sport+.
The low position on the road, long nose and larger rear make the roadster a superb sports machine, while the rear positioning of the engine helps with handling.
Taking on some coastal winding roads, I nipped through the gears via the steering wheel paddles.
Take the roof off, let your hair get slightly ruffled and take those corners fast – and the reward pays off.
You could be on a racetrack, say in Norwell, but this time you’re in charge, not Moers.
Mercedes-AMG GT roadster
Engine: 4-litre, eight cylinder bi turbo (350kW/630Nm)
Price: From $267,000.
Pros: Stunning looks, great performance
Cons: Tight interior