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The Mercedes AMG GT, Crafted like a race car

19.02.2016

'Handcrafted by racers', is the catch phrase Mercedes- Benz is using for the new AMG GT. And it's quite a statement. It implies that the AMG GT is a track focused sports car, something Merc has never done before. No doubt you're saying to yourself, "what about the SLS?" Well other than a few layout similarities there's not a lot that ties the SLS super-sports car to the AMG GT.

The technical stuff

That's because the GT has been crafted from the ground up by AMG, using techniques and materials that are normally reserved for actual racing cars. The code-name M178 four-litre twin-turbocharged V8 is dry sumped to lower the car's centre of gravity as much as possible.

Those turbos sit inside the V, allowing for a compact engine and reducing the length of the intakes, which significantly improves throttle response and reduces turbo lag. Moving to the rear, there's a seven speed double clutch gearbox sitting on the rear axle. This gives the GT optimal weight distribution and keeps that all important centre of gravity low.

The engine and gearbox sit on dynamic mounts, which stiffen in sporty driving modes to reduce the engine's weight transfer having an affect on handling characteristics. But then soften in normal driving conditions to limit vibrations transferring to the body shell.

The combination is simply sublime, and of course the performance is remarkable. 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds and top speed is north of 300km/h. But the story doesn't end with exceptional stats.

Aluminium is used extensively throughout the car, comprising over 90 percent of the spaceframe. There's a steel bootlid, for rigidity and a bit of weight over the rear. In front of the front wheels AMG use super lightweight magnesium, thereby limiting inertia ahead of the front axle which helps to reduce understeer.

The rear axle is looked after by an electronic locking differential, which has a variable locking effect, optimising turn in and traction on exit of a corner. The double-wishbone front and rear suspension is forged aluminium to reduce unsprung mass.

The drive

Now, you must forgive me for all the technical detail above, it just highlights the lengths to which AMG has gone to make the GT the ultimate sports car. The results of their efforts are clear as day once you get behind the wheel.

I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to flog the AMG GT around Zwartkops Raceway near Pretoria. And it's something to behold. The GT clung to the tarmac like nothing I've ever driven around there. Front end grip is mega. You can really feel the effect of that clever weight distribution. Composed and balanced, giving exceptional confidence to get back on the loud pedal.

Then there are the brakes, a set of optional carbon ceramic discs measuring in at a whopping 402mm in diameter. They're brilliant. Progressive and linear in their application, precise enough for nice modulation to adjust both force and entry into the corner (a bit of trail braking is always nice). The standard steel brakes are less effective though - and suffer from fade after four or five laps at full tilt - so get the ceramics.

There's a precision to the AMG GT that I've not experienced in a car before. And that gives you the confidence to explore the car's limits without fear of binning it into a wall. It's balanced and subtle, but brutal on power delivery, throttle response and traction.

Any AMG wouldn't be such without a proper bit of noise as well. The GT delivers it in spades. Nice cracks and burbles on up and down shifts, and a solid roar when the pedal is mashed into the carpet.

Amazingly the car also possess huge ability to be civilised, enough to be used every day. In comfort mode the GT cruises along at a whisper, keeping revs low and dialing out road imperfections remarkably well. The double clutch gearbox handles itself nicely, with smooth slick changes. Creature comforts bathe the leather and aluminium trimmed interior. I'd happily sit in the worst traffic in the GT.

Verdict

Yes, I like this car. And I didn't think I would if I'm honest. The pictures don't do its subtle lines any justice and make the proportions look a bit funny. In the flesh there's a presence about it.

And of course it's a brilliant thing to drive. AMG pulled out all the stops on this one, utilising actual racing technologies to produce a car that feels at home on a track, yet is perfectly happy bumbling along a motorway, or doing the daily grind.

The question of course is whether the GT can steal some of Porsche's lunch. After all it's the 911 that has dominated this segment for 40 years. Unfortunately without having driven them back to back it's hard to say, but what I can tell you is that it feels like it was 'handcrafted by racers' - and that draws me to the Merc.

Article written by Miles Downard
19.02.2016
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