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2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S review

Of all the words used to describe the new AMG GT, Gordon Wagener, Vice President Design at Mercedes, said it best: This new supercar is an amalgam of good old power and seriously sophisticated technology. 

The emotion is sourced from the anticipation brought forth by the GT’s breathtaking and carnal shape, and the promise of speed. The intellect comes from the fact that you could be killed while driving this car as hard as it was meant to be driven. 

Another great line comes from one of the Keno Brothers (I can’t tell them apart) where they said the following about performance cars: “They are very primal and involve all of our senses.” I think this too is very appropriate when it comes to the AMG GT S. 

Anticipation
These are the thoughts and feelings I had swimming in my mind and heart when I was handed the keys to my Designo Diamond White Metallic AMG GT S Coupe. My toes and finger tips were tingling, my soul was fizzing, and I was expecting this car to rearrange my face (in the nicest possible way). Many things did occur when I drove off with the GT and throughout the week I was with it -- but not all lived up to my anticipation. 

I really get the impression that Mercedes tried genuinely hard with this car. I’m not saying that Dodge pooped out their Viper or that Porsche threw their GT3 RS together. If I think back to the SLS and my brief time with it, I was more under the impression that Merc was simply showing off its knowhow, not trying all that hard to make the car as good as it was. 

This time around, the GT S is all about expressing thoughts, feelings and desire, and it’s all over the top. Somehow, the SLS AMG spoke for itself, whereas the GT needs a team of spokespeople. 

Maybe it’s me. 

Not a GT
Regardless; I will share with you one portion of my conclusion, and that is that the AMG GT is less of a GT than the SLS. And by GT I mean grand tourer. If you want a definition of the term, look it up on Wikipedia and you’ll actually see a picture of the SLS. How’s that? Now read how Sam Dawson describes what a GT is. 

I’ll get right to the point: the AMG GT S is not a comfortable car. It’s a gorgeous piece of art on wheels, but unless I was barrelling down a freeway, I was being tossed around in my seat as though in a GT3 -- I wasn’t expecting this at all. And yes, it’s possible that the name of the car is its only true fault. At least, that’s what I’d told myself on day one. 

All performance and prestige cars evoke emotions. From a simple Cayman to an exotic Lambo Huracan, all provide a feast for all of our senses. The AMG GT is way up there as a main course in the current mega hot-car buffet. It’s styling is sleeker and racier than the SLS, resembling more of a cross between the latter and the legendary SLR. The amount of work and detail in the car’s outer shell is impressive, but pales in comparison to what’s going on inside the GT’s intimate cockpit. 

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2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S
mercedes-amg gt 2016
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S
Review this Vehicle
Styling
Accessories
Space and Access
Comfort
Performance
Driving Dynamics
Safety
General Appreciation
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Photos:S.D'Amour
2016 Mercedes AMG GT S pictures

High-class cabin
It’s actually roomy within the confines of the GT’s cabin, if the centre console didn’t occupy the same amount of space as would a third seat. This massive centre portion is the piece de résistance on board the car. The shape of the unit is reminiscent of a NACA air intake (a low-drag air inlet design) in which you’ll find eight buttons set in a “V” shape (V8 perhaps?), the shifter and the Mercedes COMMAND controls complete the unit. Actually, that’s not entirely true: the GT features some of the deepest cupholders I’ve ever seen in any car. Bonus for XL Timmie’s coffee lovers!

About four of those eight buttons in the V… They influence the GT’s mood and character -- some of which should come with a warning label. The top left one is the key, after the one just below it is prodded. The “key” controller is the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT that transforms the car from mean to practically intolerable. 

The latter can be manually switched from "Comfort" to "Sport," "Sport +" and "RACE" and finally "Individual." At this point, the majority of you are familiar with what you can expect from the rotary knob as it moves from the left to the right. What you might not be aware of is that in Comfort, the car’s barely just civilized. And this is just for the transmission. The AMG RIDE CONTROL sport suspension offers up three modes and they are "Comfort," "Sport" and "Sport plus." This button is located at the bottom left of the “V.” 

Atop the mountainesque console are four vents, and just above it the main HMI screen for all matters of entertainment aboard the GT. Its sides are flanked by impressively supportive and comfortable sport seats that feature countless measures of possible adjustments. The rows of buttons and knobs culminate at the shifter that, although cool to look at, is positioned far too rearward for normal usage. My average 5’10” stature and driving position make it almost impossible to reach without rotating my hips in the seat. A visit to the chiropractor after a 3-point turn might be in order… 

Hot in “V”
But enough of the stuff you can mostly figure out with your eyes. How fast is this car? Unimaginably so. How’s this: The violence with which the V8 violates tarmac with its power is evident in the video where you see my head and upper body forced back into the seat. In many sport and performance cars, I’m able to brace myself for the upcoming rush of power; however, despite knowing what to expect, it caught me off guard every time. 

The GT’s biturbo 4.0L V8 is as much of a work of art as it is a wonder of technology. If you know anything about turbos, you’ll know that their turbines are exhaust-gas driven and the housings are located aft or as part of the manifold/header. The GT’s chargers are located within the “V,” thus the “hot inside the V” references. The advantages are numerous including a more compact engine overall and a more direct feed of fresh air. Thanks to 1.2 bars of boost, the results are wondrous and read as follows: 503 horsepower (510 according to some literature) and 479 lb-ft of torque. To be honest, on paper, these specs are far from impressive but the jokes on you if you think the car does not live up to the hype. 

I mentioned violent and violate, but it’s more like vicious. Max torque lands as early as 1,750 rpm and holds on all the way to 5,000 rpm, thanks to the AMG DYNAMIC PLUS package. The cavalry rides in as of 6,000 rpm up to 6,500. The power is immense. The GT is the one of the most vehemently accelerating cars I’ve ever driven. It grabs you by the guts, throttles you into the seat with a “shut the hell up” shove. 

Braking has the exact opposite effect. The counter balance between the go and the stop is perfect, insinuating that the driver can launch the car and bring it back under legal norms in no time. The GT will come to a full stop from the buck with neck-snapping force. 

Not always SPEEDSHIFT
The transmitting job of power to the rear electronic limited-slip differential is in the hands of the AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed transmission. DCT’s are the present and the future of geared transmissions and few manufacturers manage daily usability and all-out performance as does Porsche. I was expecting Mercedes-AMG to match their Stuttgart neighbours but unfortunately, they have not. Driving in the city reveals a ‘box that is slow on the uptake and occasionally hesitant in low speed shifts, whether or not the paddles are used. Going from drive to reverse and back can become frustrating in tight spots or rushed situations. 

I know this is an AMG GT but it’s been said and I agree that few will ever do more than Sunday drives and Cars&Coffee with their base $149,900 supercar. However, Sport or Sport + the thing, actually push it and damn, what a mad scurry!

Road hugger
Despite looking girthy, the AMG GT is in reality lithe on its toes. The engine is one of the lightest ever for what it is, the weight distribution works out to 47% (front) / 53%, and the car is made from a number of fancy and exotic materials. This explains why the Super Merc is as nimble as it is. 

The suspension’s tuning is honed from 33,696 km travelled around the fabled Nurburgring. I’m a big believer in the ‘Ring and what it represents, but I’m not sold on the GT’s ride being supple enough for everyday usage despite being adjustable. The dampers do what they’re told and keep the car excitingly flat at all times, maintaining the tires and their contact patch in contact with the tarmac. The level of grip is tremendous and incredibly satisfying – the car is glued to the road. But, you’ll work hard at avoiding potholes and other road irregularities to remain sane.  

Steering takes a few moments to adjust too. Like all cars where the driver sits just ahead of the rear axle, the impression that the nose leads the way is a real one. The AMG PERFORMANCE wheel requires only 2.4 turns from lock to lock making it quick to react indeed. The driving position and rapid steering give the sense that the driver is on lock-down with the car giving a true racecar notion. 

Not my type
If my review isn’t as positive as most out there, the reason beyond my expectations and less-than-perfect transmission were brought in by the highly-unusual-for-a-Mercedes squeaks and rattles. I asked the Mercedes rep about these irregularities and was told that nothing atypical had occurred to the car. 

The bottom line is this: The Mercedes-AMG GT S is a remarkable car but because it’s such a raw car, I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that it’s a Mercedes. I expect this type of unrefined behaviour from a Viper, a GT3 or a GT-R, but not from the three-pointed star. 

I might be foolish for saying this but I would not consider this car, and do with it what the Merc engineers intended. It’s too pretty, too emotional -- like a sensual and gorgeous woman with the sexiest curves. The fact that she smokes Camels, chews Tabaco, drinks Budweiser, spits, burps, and farts doesn’t register with me. 

If I had the necessary intellect, I would know that these broads are usually the most fun and the kinkiest. I think I prefer the opposite; pretty, a little rough around the outside edges but hyper talented (on the track, the kitchen, and the bedroom), but you’d never know just by looking at her…