Mercedes-AMG will release the new AMG GT Coupe next year.
It comes in two models, both powered by 4.0-liter twin-turbos sending torque to all four wheels, as necessary: The GT 63 with 577 hp, and the GT 55 with 469. The difference in the two outputs comes down to software, which defines the sportiness of the GT.
Pricing and curb weights will be out closer to launch.
It says it right there in the name: GT, or Gran Turismo, Grand Touring, however you want to spell it out. That generally means “a car in which to cruise comfortably and look cool.” Yet throughout all the prodigious literature provided by AMG on this subject, Mercedes’ high-performance division calls it a “sports car.”
So which is it?
GT or Sports Car?
After a day spent flinging a silver GT 63 through the high hills and narrow roads around Granada, Spain, with one sometimes-terrified passenger, over roads filled with equal parts blind corners and live goats, using all the various different electronic driving modes available to us, we’ll say it’s a “very sporty GT,” even though that term doesn’t exist in the SAE handbook of automotive engineering terms.
Yes, AMG has launched a second generation of its mighty GT, one dedicated to the proposition that electronics can make your car do just about anything. It’ll keep you in line and out of the weeds despite size, weight, and lunging aerodynamic proportions.
If you are looking for the visceral thrills provided by whatever great sports car you remember from whatever era defined the term for you, this is not it.
The AMG GT instead incorporates electronics in everything from steering precision to body roll (which just about doesn’t exist, really), to the magnificently complex yet surprisingly accessible MBUX infotainment system.
So it works, but in its own, isolationist, quiet-cabin, computer-controlled, comfortable-ride way.
The new AMG GT shares architecture with the SL, but Benz is quick to note that the SL is more comfortable and luxurious than the “sports car” GT. The proportions are almost exactly the same: 106.3-inch wheelbase, 66.3- front and 66.4-inch rear track, and 186.1-inch length.
The SL is less than an inch shorter and a little bit wider but shares the same height. It’s over seven inches longer and almost two inches wider than the previous GT.
None of that really matters the way it would if the whole aerodynamically superior thing wasn’t controlled by more chassis electronics than the space shuttle. That includes, but is by no means limited to, AMG ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL suspension (they love capitalization in Germany) with active roll stabilization, rear-axle steering, and active aerodynamics to “deliver precise handling.”
But it’s all based on a solid collection of aluminum pieces welded and glued together to form a cohesive whole unlike anything else out there. Here’s how the Germans themselves describe it in a nutshell:
“To reduce the unsprung mass, all suspension links, steering knuckles and wheel carriers on the front and rear axles of the new AMG GT Coupe are made of forged aluminum. The multi-link concept guides each wheel with minimal elastic movements. The high camber and toe rigidity not only enables high cornering speeds, but also gives the driver optimal road contact at the high cornering limit. This is reflected in excellent lateral dynamics and driving stability at high speeds, as well as in the good-natured response to external influences such as crosswinds, bumps in the road or jumps in the coefficient of friction.”
Good-natured! That is indeed, true. But beyond that solid foundation it’s electronics that are carrying the day.
The biggest and most imposing of these electro-controls is no doubt the adaptive AMG adjustable dampers. There are two variable pressure relief valves on each damper, one controlling jounce, one rebound, each controlled independently. Those dampers are also fitted with two hydraulic connections, one on the compression side and one on the rebound side.
AMG’s intelligent hydraulic interconnection of the four suspension struts and the pressure regulation of the pump and switching valves allow a very wide roll spring rate with reduced rolling movements, AMG explains. This means there is no need for a traditional antiroll bar at either end.
“Figuratively, any torsion bar from zero to stiff can be realized automatically,” AMG says. “In everyday life, this increases comfort because even one-sided road imperfections are compensated for individually. During dynamic cornering, the hydraulics also actively reduce loss of camber. Thanks to the resulting high camber rigidity, the coupe turns in very precisely.”
Combine that with an electronically controlled limited-slip rear diff, composite brakes, and electromechanically actuated rear-axle steering, and you have essentially mastered the craft’s significant—though not yet released—curb weight.
Then all you have to do is twist the little dial on the steering wheel to your choice of six (!) driving modes and you’re off.
In most city driving, of course, Comfort was the preferable choice. But on aggressively attacked mountain roads, even those with goats suddenly appearing without warning around corners, simple Sport—as opposed to Sport+ and Race modes—was preferable. The other two modes are Slippery and Individual.
Sport mode offers what AMG says is a “sporty character through more agile response to accelerator pedal commands, shortened shift times, earlier downshifts and the emotional gear changes through throttle blipping. A more dynamic suspension and steering set-up.”
“Ja, we have found that Sport is the best,” said AMG chairman and CEO, the affable Michael Schiebe, speaking later that day when we told him of our drive.
There was one “anomaly,” as they say in space travel. During one fast, relatively tight corner early in the day, it felt like the steering ratio suddenly changed from tight to loose and back again, requiring a couple quick corrections mid-corner. It wasn’t over- or understeer, and there was no slip of the wheels at either end. But the wheel went whacky for just a couple microseconds. It never happened again and none of the AMG engineers could come up with a good explanation for what it might have been.
But overall the new GT was a joy to drive. The mountain roads of the Sierra Nevada, as they’re called—just like the mountains in California but much lower—were perfect to hang out a new GT.
A true sports car, say a 911, any McLaren or a Ferrrari SF90 would have been fun up there, too, and no doubt faster. But in the drive to and from the mountains a GT, specifically this GT, would have been better, while being just about as good in the real twisty stuff.
Prices and curb weights will come out closer to the car’s U.S. launch in the first half of next year.
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