Now though, there’s a new player in the fray. It’s a car that promises that perfect blend of liveability as well as excitement, and it comes with an AMG badge. I’m referring to the all-new Mercedes-Benz AMG GTS. I spent time with this brute to see if it had the bite to match the bark.
This new Mercedes-AMG sports coupé replaces the SLS as the brand’s flagship performance model. It is however not the ‘new SLS’ as many tend to think. This car is more sports car than supercar. Now before you complain let me explain…
The AMG GTS might look very similar to the SLS but the designers have toned it down slightly. Sure it has a long bonnet and a short rear end and the driver and passenger just about sit on the rear wheels, much like the SLS, but one main feature that’s missing is the Gullwing doors. The AMG GTS has normal, practical doors. It also comes across as slightly more compact. Now as for overall design, well I don’t think it’s a particularly pretty car. By no means is it an eyesore, but it’s not Aston Martin DB9 GT pretty. Instead, the AMG GTS looks purposeful; its big air intakes found at the bottom of its very low front bumper provide cooling for not just the massive brakes but for the savagery that lurks under that bulging bonnet.
At the rear, the lift-back tailgate does make access easy and the boot will hold up to 350 litres of luggage. Another feature that I particularly like at the rear is the mechanical rear wing, which raises at higher speeds; it shows other road users that you mean business and inside, it is business!
Typical Mercedes-Benz really, with sumptuous leather covering just about everything. The car that I drove featured a beige interior, which worked in harmony with the gloss black inserts found throughout the interior. There is a Tablet-like screen which fits snugly onto the dashboard and the controls are neatly and ergonomically fitted to a large, raised centre console. An interesting feature is that the eight buttons and dials for things such as driving modes, traction control, adaptive suspension, active exhaust and the start/stop engine button, are arranged in a V-shape with four buttons on either side, which I presume alludes to what lies under the hood.
Now, let me mention the things that make this a true driver’s car… The 4.0-litre 375kW/650Nm Bi-Turbocharged V8 sits quite far back; in fact, on closer inspection, you’ll notice that it sits behind the front steering rack, almost under the dashboard and the seven-speed automatic gearbox has been mounted at the rear. This gives the car near-perfect weight distribution, something that can be felt when making use of the car’s launch control function (also known as Race Start).
In the AMG C63S the car would light up the rear tyres when launched, snaking its way off the line and, ultimately resulting in a loss of time. The GTS on the other hand, doesn’t lose traction as quickly as the C63S. Proof of this is the fact that the GTS will hit 100km/h in under 3.8 seconds - from rest.
The fun stuff
I decided to take the car on a trip to the Lowveld and, as its name suggests, I found it to be a rather accomplished GT car. When the suspension is in Comfort mode, along with the gearbox and engine, the car is as soft and docile as a lion cub. However, this was a trip to the Lowveld and as soon as the road became tantalising I put it in its most aggressive settings. The result was a white-knuckle, sweaty palms kind of experience. The vehicle was relentless! It mauled the road like a ferocious lion mauls its prey, charging from one corner to the next. Thankfully the model I drove was fitted with Carbon Ceramic brakes, which can dissipate its speed rather effectively.
The car has extremely direct steering, so much so, that if you sneeze while holding the wheel it will change direction. The car also sits flat through a corner and don’t expect the rear end to come around, the car is planted, like a purebred sports car should be.
After spending a week with the R2 million plus AMG GTS both in town and on some of the best roads in our country, I can tell you the car is near perfect. It makes a glorious noise and when driven with restraint you won’t need to visit the pumps that often.
There are some issues though, one being its lack of height. For some reason there doesn’t seem to be a standard speed-hump size in my area. This led to me being stuck between two speed humps; I managed to get over the one but not the other, no matter how many approach angles I tried. I also found that its long bonnet made it difficult to park. So if you see an AMG GTS parked over two parking spaces, the owner isn’t being silly, it’s just the best he could do.
Mercedes says the AMG GTS has been designed by racers and I can tell. Most AMG models come across as German muscle cars - big hammers if you will. The GTS - although brutal - feels more like a precision tool.