It’s not often you get to say this about a car, but perhaps the most memorable feature of the new Mercedes AMG GT is its nostrils. That long, sharply chiselled nose has a pair of cooling vents just in front of the windscreen, one of which lies directly in your eye line when you’re sat in the low-mounted driver’s seat.
Cocooned against the transmission tunnel, your view of the world is dominated by several yards of beautifully sculpted bonnet. And one very fine air vent. It’s a deeply evocative place to sit, better perhaps than the old the SLS, and certainly more compact.
With its current generation of cars, Mercedes has really nailed interiors right across the board. The GT is predictably sumptuous, although it’s not without its quirks. With all that bonnet in front there’s not a huge amount of room for luggage (or anything else for that matter) behind the seats. High, wide sills also make elegant entry a bit of a challenge, but in a way that’s part of the appeal; this is not a big, soft grand tourer, but rather a leaner, fitter sports car.
The GT uses a new 4-litre twin turbocharged V8, based on the A45 AMG’s inline four. This replaces the superb naturally aspirated 6.2-litre engine found in the SLS and the old C63. It’s fair to say we approached this new engine with a degree of trepidation. Virtually all manufacturers are switching to forced induction these days, but it’s not always a wholly successful move. Fortunately, in this case, we shouldn’t have worried.
The soundtrack is pure blood and thunder, with a deliciously naughty V8 gurgle. Better still, you’d struggle to tell it was turbocharged. Torque is predictably mighty, but the engine still has a healthy appetite for revs, and the throttle response is first rate. It’s mated to a heavily revised version of the rear-mounted dual clutch gearbox from the SLS, which provides wonderfully crisp shifts both up and down. With 510 bhp (in S trim) and 650 Nm of torque, performance is 911 Turbo territory.
Our time with the AMG GT S was limited to a couple of laps of the high speed bowl at Millbrook, so it’s hard to make any definitive statements on the dynamics. Traction and stability are certainly impressive, though, and the car felt hunkered down on the bumpy concrete.
Our only gripe comes with the variable assistance on the hydraulic power steering. At high speeds it feels suitably chunky, but we initially found it disconcertingly light on the site roads around Milbrook. That said, being able to steer with a flick of the wrist can have its advantages on a powerful rear-wheel drive car.
Ultimately, the beauty of the AMG GT S lies in its sense of occasion. It’s a stunning thing to behold – both inside and out – with a driving experience to match. German cars are sometimes accused of being a bit cold and clinical, but this AMG is anything but; even coming from an ancient order of Aston Martin fanboys, I’d have to concede it poses a serious threat to the soulful V8 Vantage. It possesses enough theatre to make the Porsche 991 look a bit anodyne in comparison, and arguably more finesse than the similarly gutsy Jaguar F-Type R. Make no mistake, the AMG GT S is a very serious contender indeed.
2015 AMG GT & GT S
|Performance & Economy||AMG GT||AMG GT S|
|Engine||3,982cc bi-turbo V8||3,982cc bi-turbo V8|
|Transmission||7-speed dual-clutch automatic, front engine, rear-wheel drive||7-speed dual-clutch automatic, front engine, rear-wheel drive|
|Power (PS / bhp)||467 / 462 (at 6,000rpm)||516 / 510 (at 6,250rpm)|
|Torque (Nm / lb.ft)||600 / 442 (between 1,600 and 5,000 rpm)||650 / 479 (between 1,750 and 4,750 rpm)|
|0 - 62 mph (seconds)||4.0||3.8|
|Top Speed (mph)||189||193|
|CO2 Emissions (g/km)||216||219|
|Combined Economy (mpg)||30.4||30.1|