Mercedes-AMG GT review
Mercedes thinks it can knock the Porsche 911 off the top of the sports car market, and the AMG GT is the car to do it
The Mercedes-AMG GT is a high performance sports coupe that sits at the top of the firm’s range. It’s one of the most expensive and powerful Mercedes you can buy and its two-door, two-seater layout coupled with sharp handling and a thundering V8 engine put it firmly in Porsche 911 territory.
There are two versions: the AMG GT and the GT-S. Both are incredibly fast, as the standard model has 456bhp, while the GT-S ups the ante to 503bhp and can hit 62mph in a scorching 3.8 seconds.
It makes for a good cruiser, too. Because the suspension isn’t too firm, the AMG GT is comfortable enough on long, lazy journeys.
The Mercedes-AMG GT is the firm's flagship sports car, a two-door coupe that has been developed entirely in-house by Mercedes’ performance arm AMG.
Despite having a silhouette inspired by its predecessor, the SLS AMG, it isn’t a direct replacement. Instead the AMG GT is a smaller and less expensive sports car that has the Porsche 911, Jaguar F-Type R, Aston Martin Vantage and Audi R8 in its sights.
It’s an astonishing looking car and the styling is arguably more distinctive than that of many other rivals. The interior is just as impressive too: it’s extremely well built but still has all the flair of the car’s exterior.
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Power comes from an all-new twin turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine that will appear in the next generation of AMG models. It’s the only engine available and it drives the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox – there’s no manual version. The AMG-GT is offered with two power outputs – 456bhp in the GT and 503bhp in the flagship GT-S.
The faster GT-S can sprint from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds and on to 193mph. It comes with an electronically controlled differential (a system to distribute the best amount of power to each wheel) and AMG Ride Control three-stage damping. The GT gets a mechanical differential, but will still manage 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds.
The AMG-GT starts at £97,200, while the GT-S costs £110,500. Aside from the luxury S-Class Coupe and the extravagant Mercedes-Maybach models, that lofty price tag makes the AMG-GT the most expensive car in Mercedes’ current range.
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Consequently, running costs are very high and every model is in insurance group 50 (though that’s comparative with rivals). Official fuel economy isn’t bad at around 30mpg for both versions but you’ll never see that if you make the most of the immense power.
The handling is extremely sharp but the AMG-GT is much more composed and less intimidating than you’d expect a 400-500bhp rear-wheel drive sports car to be. It’s quite civilised and as comfortable on long journeys as it is racing around a track.
Engines, performance and drive
One look at the specification of the AMG GT is enough to get you excited about the driving experience. An all-new 4.0-litre V8 with twin-turbochargers, a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, multi-link suspension and a low centre of gravity – it has all the best sports car ingredients.
You sit low in the car and the driving position is good, although the view is dominated by a large bonnet bulge. The engine is mounted behind the front axle for better weight distribution and a lower centre of gravity. As a result, the car feels sharper than previous AMG models and very stable.
Body control is excellent and for a powerful front-engined rear-wheel drive car (which are often quite twitchy) the grip is sensational. The back end is really steady under acceleration and the AMG GT feels incredibly composed. The steering is light and sensitive but it doesn’t have the same level of feedback that you’ll find in a Porsche 911, yet that huge amount of grip means you’ll need a track to get near the car’s limits.
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Despite its sharp handling, the AMG GT is actually a reasonably refined cruiser. The suspension is just the right side of firm and on smooth tarmac with the dampers in Comfort mode, the AMG GT rides decently enough to be comfortable. The wide tyres generate some road noise at speed and the engine does tend to make more of a racket than that of rivals, but overall refinement is good.
Press the starter button on the transmission tunnel and the 456bhp 4.0-litre V8 (503bhp in the GT-S) barks into life. The noise is addictive and really comes into its own above 3,000rpm – especially with the sports exhaust activated.
With 600Nm of torque (650 in the GT-S) available as low as 1,600rpm, the AMG-GT feels instantly responsive, yet peak power doesn’t arrive until 6,000rpm – so there’s performance on offer throughout the rev range.
As for acceleration, you’re looking at 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds from the standard model and 3.8 seconds from the GT-S, while top speed for each model is 189mph and 193mph respectively – both extremely fast.
The dual-clutch gearbox shifts seamlessly, and there’s a nice blip on the downshift accompanied by pops and bangs from the exhaust when you’re decelerating.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
A high performance V8-engined sports car with a near six-figure price tag is never going to be cheap to run, but the GT gives you the image, sound and thrills of the outgoing SLS model for a lot less money.
The GT and GT-S versions emit 216g/km and 219g/km of CO2 respectively and these figures mean tax costs are going to be similar to the 209g/km Jaguar F-Type R Coupe. As a mark of the efficiency gains Mercedes has made, the outgoing SLS emitted 308g/km. Fuel economy for the GT is 30.4mpg, while the GT S is virtually no different at 30.1mpg.
A fuel economy around 30mpg sounds very impressive for a car with the AMG GT’s level of power. However, it’s worth remembering that it’s unlikely to return anything like those figures if you take advantage of its performance in any way.
As with mpg and CO2, insurance costs for the AMG GT are extremely high. Every model sits in group 50, which is as high as it’s possible to get.
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However, you can’t really single the Mercedes out in this area, as the majority of rivals at a similar price point and with equivalent levels of performance also sit right at the top end of the insurance scale, so it’s the same situation across the board.
Cars with a premium badge on the bonnet are usually off to a good start when it comes to residual values, while the AMG GT's exclusivity and limited production numbers, means it has extremely strong used value of around 59 per cent of its original cost after three years. That leaves it ahead of the Porsche 911, which has itself traditionally enjoyed cast-iron resale values.
It’s worth bearing in mind how much it costs in the first place though, as there’s more outright value to lose than with cheaper cars.
Interior, design and technology
The Mercedes-AMG GT follows in the footsteps of the old SLS Gullwing model. It's a smaller car but it retains the same front-mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout (The engine is mounted at the front of the car but pushed back as far as possible for better weight distribution).
The design shows a clear lineage back to Mercedes’ famous sporting models from the 1950s and earlier, too.
With the same long nose and squat proportions, there’s a hint of the SLS about the AMG GT’s shape, but delicate lines make the GT look far more svelte and its proportions are similar to those of the Jaguar F-Type. At the front, traditional AMG bonnet and side vents leave you in no doubt as to the car’s potential.
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Customers can choose from a range of carbon, black or chrome exterior detailing packages, but even in its most basic form, the GT has the head-turning appeal to rival the world’s most desirable sports cars.
Inside, the driver-focused cabin makes a strong impression. The seats are low and a huge transmission tunnel runs between them. In a nod to the V8 engine, the centre console has eight buttons laid out in a V formation – and it comes in a choice of chrome, matt carbon, high-gloss carbon, black diamond or matt silver finishes.
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The AMG GT’s build quality is first class, with plenty of leather and metal used throughout. The huge centre console is the dominant feature: it splits the cabin in half and features two banks of buttons to control an assortment of functions. A lovely flat-bottomed steering wheel, covered in Alcantara trim, finishes off the stunning cabin and if you’ve got the funds, there’s huge scope for personalised leather trim and other high-end options.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The dashboard has Mercedes’ excellent tablet-style screen, which is controlled by the latest COMAND system with a touchpad and roller dial, while clear navigation mapping and audio controls mean it's easy to operate on the move.
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The COMAND control wheel and touchpad are located where you’d expect the gearlever to be – the lever itself is positioned further back because you use it only to select forward or reverse before switching to full auto mode or using the steering wheel paddles.
As you’d expect with a car that costs as much as the AMG GT, the likes of Bluetooth, DAB radio, a pair of USB sockets and an SD card reader are all standard.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Day-to-day usability is key to rivalling coupes such as the Porsche 911, but the Mercedes-AMG GT isn't the most practical sports car on the market.
For starters, it’s strictly a two-seater and while cars in this class are not bought for their seating capacity, rivals such as the 911 and the BMW M6 Gran Coupe at least offer small back seats suitable for children.
The Mercedes’ chunky A-pillars (the solid bits on either side of a car's windscreen) make visibility tricky at junctions, and the high bonnet means some hills will be tough to see over. With tiny door pockets and a small glovebox, storage space is a bit tight in the cabin, too.
The AMG GT is 4,546mm long, 1,939mm wide and 1,287mm tall, which makes it longer, lower and wider than a Porsche 911. It’s also longer than the Audi R8, almost exactly as wide but a bit taller.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
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A low seat means there’s plenty of headroom and the driving position is excellent, so the AMG GT can be a comfortable long-distance grand tourer. It’s the same deal for the passenger seat, so transporting two in comfort is easy enough, but that’s about the extent of the Mercedes’ abilities in terms of space.
The boot is similar in shape to the F-Type Coupe's, and it will hold two golf bags longways. There's a maximum of 350 litres, or 285 litres if you pull the load cover closed, but at least that keeps your belongings out of sight. The boot lid opens wide so access is easy and there’s an aluminium strut to stop luggage sliding forward under braking.
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However, the shallow boot and its lumpy floor make the space a little awkward. By comparison the F-Type Coupe has a 407-litre boot, while the 911’s combination of rear seats and a 115-litre deep nose boot gives it a slight advantage over the AMG GT.
Reliability and Safety
The GT is new from the ground up, but it’s been subjected to rigorous performance testing so we wouldn’t be too concerned about reliability. Especially as AMG’s famous ‘one man, one engine’ principle means the 4.0-litre V8s are hand-built to the strictest quality standards.
Across the car, a host of proven Mercedes components should further cement confidence in its reliability. The AMG GT didn’t appear in the models section of our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey but Mercedes ranked 11th in the manufacturer survey, which leaves it comfortably in the top half of the 32 car makers, although the firm’s dealers finished a disappointing 21st.
Safety kit is a strong point. The GT comes as standard with Collision Prevention Assist, knee airbags for driver and passenger and tyre pressure monitoring, while optional extras include adaptive high-beam LED lights, a reversing camera, lane tracking, blind spot warning and traffic sign recognition.
The AMG GT comes with a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, which is comparable with the cover offered by other premium brands with high performance models.
Porsche has the exact same three-year/unlimited package, as do BMW and Jaguar. The only exception is Audi, which falls behind the pack with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty.
Mercedes recommends a main service for the AMG GT every 12,500 miles. The firm does offer a fixed price service plan for its cars and a monthly payment plan can be arranged based on mileage and usage. However, the firm hasn’t published costs for the AMG GT on its website.
It’s obviously a bit more bespoke than your standard Mercedes and a relatively new model, hence why the costs aren’t so obvious, but as a guide, a two-year service plan for the outgoing SLS AMG model costs £60 a month for a car covering up to 15,500 miles a year.