Here’s something that may surprise you: In general, building a low-volume supercar isn’t as big of a challenge for a major automaker as you might think. However, turning a low-volume sports car into a more massive machine, like the Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe, is a bit more difficult.
When Mercedes-AMG took on the challenge of turning its wild – and very expensive – SLS supercar into a practical and, more importantly, affordable rival to the Porsche 911 and Audi R8, the business case got a little more serious.
The result was the GT Coupe. Its concept is similar to that of the SLS: a large, front-engine, rear-wheel drive coupé muscle car with a seven-speed automatic gearbox.
However, the GT’s need to include practicalities like a decent-sized trunk without expensive frills like the SLS’s impressive gullwing doors means its designers and engineers have had their wings clipped.
And how is it? Well, the consensus is that it’s still one of the best supercars you can rent.
The GT’s M178 engine is the dry brother of the M177 engine found throughout the AMG lineup. This means that it has a displacement of 3982 cc and two turbochargers located in the 90 degree V. In the standard version of the GT, it produces 523 hp between 5,500 rpm and 6,750 rpm, some 50 hp more than at launch.
Like all AMG V8s, torque is also strong, falling short of the most powerful Audi R8 Performance. Whether on the road or on the track, the performance of the Mercedes-AMG GT never feels less than ballistic. Despite being turbocharged, throttle response is fantastic, coming out of every corner and accompanying driving agility.
The V8 moves with unrelenting ferocity down the straights, reaching into the horizon in an almost surreal way. With the escape button pressed, all of this is superimposed, of course, on a soundtrack that gargles blood and thunder like some sort of irritated Norse god.
The “basic” GT is an extremely fast supercar, reaching 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds in both its Coupé and Roadster versions, with a top speed of 241 km/h. The GT C, only in the Roadster version, reduces this time by 0.1 seconds, to 3.7 seconds, and raises the top speed to 315 km/h.
The center console is a highlight. It features a clever button layout made up of eight small color screens designed in reference to the V8 under the hood. Everything from the driving dynamics to the exhaust is controlled via these 8 buttons, each of which actively changes the display based on the chosen setting. It’s certainly smart, though possibly over the top. On some models, these buttons are joined by the same color-coded screen controls found on the steering wheel that offer the same functions.
The GT’s short, wide stature is compounded by the four wide air vents, above which sits the infotainment screen controlled by the previous generation’s software.
A second high-resolution color screen has also replaced the previous analogue dials in front of the driver, while the steering wheel is a borrowed unit from other AMG models that is oddly shaped and awkward, but quite comfortable and intuitive to use.
Like many aspects of the GT, the experience from inside the cabin is determined by the proportions of the car. The seating position is low, with a wide, ungainly console that rises to the wide, flat dashboard. The windshield is upright and closer than you’d expect, and the hood extends to what seems like the horizon. It’s a markedly different experience from what you get in an R8 or 911, whose low bonnets offer great visibility.
The overall quality of the vehicle is impressive both inside and out, and while it may lack the technology of a modern 911 or the showmanship of an Aston Martin Vantage, the interior is an impressive element of the GT package. The Black Series and GT R models build on this basic cabin architecture with more aggressive bucket seats and optional roll cages, but the basics stay the same.