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2018 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Review

2018 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Review
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The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT performs brilliantly on any kind of pavement, making it one of our favorite modern sports cars.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT is a firebrand for the luxury brand, and a serious contender among the world's sports cars, supercars—even race cars.


This year, Mercedes fleshes out the range even further, which begins with the touring-oriented AMG GT and works its way through GT S, GT C, and track-ready GT R variants. GT and GT C versions are even available as convertibles—just the ticket for high-speed, al fresco ‘bahn burning. We’re big fans of the AMG GT lineup, even if they force considerably daily driver compromises in their quest to deliver the highest level of performance available behind Mercedes’ signature three-pointed star.

All AMG GTs use a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine, rated from 469 to 585 horsepower that sends power rearward via a 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle. Even the slowest of the pack sprints to 60 mph in under four seconds, but numbers aren’t the main draw here. The AMG GT delivers the kind of pure driving experience we’ve not seen from a Mercedes-Benz in decades. Even the roughly $112,000 base GT is a raw, but refined corner carver loaded with racing-derived technology.

The AMG GT’s V-8 is mounted behind the front axle, which delivers a 47/53 front/rear weight split. Power makes its way to the transaxle via a massive carbon fiber “torque tube.” Once back there, a true locking differential rapidly sends grunt where it is needed and rear-axle steering on some variants helps these sports cars feel planted on even the most demanding course. Depending on the model, up to five driving modes including a custom-tailored Individual setting let the AMG GT either lope around in town or scream to its maximum potential on a closed course.

What really sets the AMG GT apart, however, is its hydraulic power steering. Rivals have largely adopted electric steering. Even the best systems—we’re looking at the Porsche 911—don’t quite compare to the natural feel delivered through the GT’s thick-rimmed, leather-wrapped tiller.

The AMG GT looks the part, too. Its exceptionally long hood gives way to a curvy, surprisingly upright and short windshield. The roofline tapers into a hatchback with a pair of squinting taillights—perhaps the only view some sports cars will ever see. The droptop is just divine, too, especially when its cloth roof is specified in a muted color rather than the “default” black canvas.

Styling
With its long hood and decadent proportions, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT leaves us swooning.

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT looks to the future while honoring the brand’s nearly forgotten racing past. We’ve given it two extra points for its exterior and one for its more compromised interior.

All variants come as coupes, but only the base GT and the GT C can be ordered as convertibles. A long hood underscores the fact that the AMG GT’s V-8 is mounted aft of the front axle. Up front, big headlights sweep back into the fenders. A vertical grille is a direct link to Mercedes’ early and mid-century racing cars—especially the Panamericana cars of the early 1950s. Order your AMG GT in silver and you’ll understand.

Coupes have a gorgeous roofline that sweeps rearward into a tailgate that gives way to a flat surface with a spoiler that pops up at higher speeds to improve downforce. Voluptuous rear hips provide the appearance of muscularity without being overt about it. Only the AMG GT R screams with its bulky fixed rear spoiler and more aggressive body kit. You could order one in the wicked matte-finish Green Hell paint scheme named after Germany’s most famous race track, but perhaps it’s better to leave that for the promotional material.

Inside, the AMG GT line plucks liberally from Mercedes’ parts bin, but that’s just fine. Ergonomics are not great here, with switches for functions like the hazard lights and the seat heaters oddly located above the windshield, but there’s plenty of drama. It’s too bad that the AMG GT’s deep cupholders take priority; Porsche integrates their equally limited-use units far better by tucking them away when not deployed.  

AMG GT Roadsters don’t have quite the same sexy profile, but a trio of roof color shades helps buyers personalize their cars a bit. The roof certainly looks better down; when raised, it elongates the trunk lid.

This year, a new AMG GT C variant arrives, either as a coupe or a convertible. The special Edition 50 package—limited to 500 examples sold globally—includes matte gray paint, unique wheels in a dark finish, and a bright, off-white interior. Your best bet, at least if we were spending your money, is to take advantage of the automaker’s Designo offerings that include more than 18 interior shade combinations.

Performance
The 2018 AMG GT can be as much of a road-carving scalpel as you want it to be.

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT might not have the gravitas of the division’s first go-around—the SLS—but this one’s for drivers and drivers alone. We’ve rated this diverse lineup a full 10 out of 10, which is an easy number to reach once you’ve considered its underhood muscle, the tenacity of its handling, the directness of its steering, its compliant ride, and its ability to transform from daily driver to track star at the twist of a control knob.

At the heart of all versions of the AMG GT lies a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 that sends power rearward via a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transaxle tied to a pair of delectable paddle shift levers. Placed behind the axle and low into the car’s aluminum space frame, the V-8 ‘s location helps improve the AMG GT’s balance. Base AMG GTs make 469 horsepower, but the 465 pound-feet torque that rolls on just after idle is this engine’s MVP. A guttural snarl through the GT’s sports exhaust further enhances the experience .

Step up to the AMG GT S and power increases to 515 hp and 494 lb-ft, substantial but not exactly earth-shattering figures. Performance is, predictably, a bit more rapid. The bigger change is the inclusion of an adjustable sports suspension to replace the trick Multimatic struts found in the base GT. Comfort mode is softer than the standard GT, while Sport firms things up with little reduction in quality.
The AMG GT C’s 550 hp and 502 lb-ft makes it the master of nearly any road and it adds rear-axle steering that both aids straight-line stability and makes these coupes and convertibles feel even more nimble on a winding country road.

The AMG GT R tops the lineup. Its story goes far beyond the 577 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque rating made possible by upsized turbos. Here, you’ll find the sharpest suspension of the group with universal ball joints that replace control arm bushings in the lower rear wishbones. Even pushed to the limit, they don’t give in. That’s to the detriment of ride quality, but who cares? It means that road feedback through the steering wheel, already an AMG GT asset, is amplified.

A yellow knob sprouting out of the dashboard gives the driver a staggering nine traction control modes to pick from—and that’s not including the five drive modes accessed via a separate knob.

But don’t think that the AMG GT R is the only way to have a pure, honest, driving experience. We hold the AMG GT close to our hearts for its relative simplicity and delightfully analog feel. Then again, the rear-wheel steering that’s on GT Cs is a game-changer, albeit one that comes with a hefty price tag.

Hey, you’ve got to pay to play—and you’ve got to pay more to play harder.

Comfort & Quality
Practicality is not the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT’s forte, but it sure does feel nice once you’re inside.

At prices that start at around $115,000 and climb to about double that, we expect the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT to look and feel like a proverbial million bucks. But its ergonomics are flawed and it’s hardly practical, which is why we’ve scaled its comfort and quality score back to a palatable 6 out of 10.

There’s no such thing as a “base” AMG GT. Almost all models are upholstered in acres of beautiful leather upholstery and can be decked out in one of six different interior trims to go along with an impressive 18 interior hue and finish combinations. A trio of seat designs starts at snug and ends with Weight Watchers—but, again, that’s par for the course here.

What surprises us is the AMG GT’s short windshield, which is pulled in close to the driver. Reach your fingers out from the steering wheel and you’ll tap the A-pillar. Sure, it’s probably wrapped in soft synthetic suede if you’ve ticked the right options boxes, but it’s still awfully close.

Utility certainly isn’t this car’s prime attribute, either. Coupes may have a hatchback configuration, but you’ll be hard-pressed to store more than a couple of duffel bags back there. Interior storage is similarly weak, with a shallow center console and a surprisingly deep, but ill-shaped well that doubles as a pair of cupholders.

Safety
The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT is well-equipped with safety gear for a supercar.

Few things in life are certain, but here’s one: neither the federal government nor independent testers will ever ram a 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT into a wall in the interest of measuring its protection in the event of a collision.

And neither should you.

But that’s why we can’t assign it a score here.

However, that’s not to say that the AMG GT comes up short in terms of tech designed to prevent you from the unimaginable. Standard equipment includes automatic emergency braking, a rearview camera, and parking sensors. You’ll pay extra for blind-spot monitors and active lane control.

Eight airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, and traction control are standard across the lineup. However, outward visibility is not. Even the Roadster with its top tucked away doesn’t offer a great view forward thanks to a high belt line and roof pillars smack dab in the driver’s face.

Features
The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT is kind of a good value. At least that’s how we’re spinning things to our better halves.

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT pampers as only a premium car can. It’s a fine car with no options selected thanks to its terrific base equipment and a high-zoot infotainment system. Spend away and the sky’s the limit, plus Mercedes will do its best to ensure you that your GT doesn’t look like your neighbor’s. Sealing the 10 out of 10 deal is the GT’s massive level of baked-in, race-derived technology. 

The AMG GT is available in four basic iterations, which mirror one another in terms of base and optional equipment. The AMG GT is the gateway to the line. Pick the GT S and you’ll get more power, plus an adaptive sports suspension and staggered 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels. The GT C delivers even more grunt, as well as rear-wheel steering, an electronic rather than conventional locking rear differential, and wider rear tires. Topping the line is the AMG GT R, which is basically a race car composed largely of carbon fiber body panels with a semi-plush interior. Suffice to say that you don’t buy an AMG GT R to drive to Home Depot.

Optional equipment runs the gamut. Start with an AMG GT and you’ll probably want to replace the standard synthetic leather and suede upholstery with nappa hides, and the basic silver-painted interior trim makes more sense as a piano black lacquer. Just $1,300 for Burmester audio seems like a no-brainer, but we might skip out on the $875 active lane control and blind-spot monitors. At around $115,000 to start, this is big money, but the AMG GT feels like it’s worth all of those Benjamins.

Fuel Economy
You’re probably not buying a 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT because it sips fuel. Because it doesn’t.

It’s safe to say that if you’re spending in this stratosphere, fuel economy is not a major concern.

But should you park your 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT in front of your eco-minded business, at least you can rest comfortably knowing that there are less-efficient vehicles on the market.

Base AMG GT and GT Ss are are rated at 16 mpg city, 22 highway, 18 combined. Dropping the top with a Roadster dials that highway figure back to 21 mpg.

AMG GT Cs are thirstier, but not much worse: 15/20/17 mpg, per the EPA’s test.

Not that you’re going to daily drive an AMG GT R…but if you did, expect the same 15/20/17 mpg figure as the GT C.

All versions of AMG’s flagship coupe require premium fuel, of course.

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