New Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro review
We hit the track in the new Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro to see if it's a serious threat to McLaren and Porsche
The Mercedes-AMG GT R, particularly in Pro form, remains a real event to drive, and something completely different from the competition at this price point. At £188,345, that includes Porsche 911 GT3s and the McLaren 600LT – but the GT R Pro has no need to fear any of them.
This is the new Pro version of Mercedes-AMG’s hardcore GT R supercar, timed to conincide with a light refresh of the entire AMG GT range that incudes new headlamps, a completely new all-digital dashboard and infotainment system, and other minor revisions.
What is a Pro? Think of it as a GT R with even more of a track focus, offering no more power, but improved aerodynamics, suspension, and track-specific equipment as standard. Key amongst these tweaks is a new suspension set-up that offers lots of adjustment, although it is no longer tuned from inside the car – that has to be done manually crouched on the ground. Did we mention the track focus?
Added to that is the Track Package and ceramic brakes (both options on the GT R), the former including a roll cage and a fire extinguisher. The Pro is also slightly lighter, thanks in part to a roof panel made from carbon fibre.
However, what’s most obvious from simply looking at the car are the tweaks to the GT R’s aerodynamics, which include a larger front splitter with additional supports, vents in the front wings to extract air from the front wheelarches, and an additional lip on the rear spoiler. All together, the changes to the Pro make it around six seconds per lap faster around the Nurburgring Nordschleife compared with the regular GT R. In theory, it should also be more enjoyable to drive.
Car group tests
To find out if that’s the case, we’ve come to the Hockenheim circuit in Germany for a brief first drive. There was no opportunity to drive the Pro on the road, so it’s impossible to comment on whether the changes make it a less desirable road car until we drive one in the UK.
As is, the Pro certainly feels very much at home on the track. While the twin-turbo V8 engine may not produce any more power than the 572bhp GT R, it makes the most ferocious soundtrack of rumbling thunder, responds instantly to the throttle and charges down the straights with real exuberance. But then this is a car that can reach 62mph from zero in just 3.6 seconds, and go on to a top speed of 198mph, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.
The new digital dashboard flashes red when it’s time to grab the next gear, which is executed instantly with a flick of the right hand paddle behind the wheel. But the downchanges only just feel quick enough, and lack the slickness of a paddleshift gearbox in a McLaren or Porsche.
It’s obvious that the brakes took a real pasting from constant lapping sessions around the track, and the response to the pedal was mushy, even if the Pro still seems to shed speed with unyielding conviction. The front wheels turn into a corner very quickly – quicker than you might expect with that long nose jutting out in front of you; only small steering inputs are required to point the car where you want it to go. Do so, and the Pro grips really hard through a corner.
Traction on the exit is surprisingly good, too, in spite of the engine’s immediate torque. But you can still choose whether to keep your lines neat and tidy or be a bit more deliberate with the accelerator pedal, causing the rear wheels to break grip on the road.
Lapping the Pro is an intense experience, as the bucket seats clamp you firmly in place and the wheel is perfectly sited out towards your chest. It’s very noisy and very fast, so it’s reassuring that the nine-stage traction control setup does allow you to tailor the safety net to exactly your level of skill – and bravery.