Mercedes-AMG GT Road­ster

BiTurbo V8 power in an open-top beauty

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Jim Gorde Pho­tog­ra­phy: San­jay Raikar

The thing with a point of view is that ev­ery­one has one. And, what’s worse, in close prox­im­ity, you’re handed a slice of said opin­ion whether you want it or not. Thank­fully, some points of view are ap­pre­ci­ated. Even more so be­cause of how they trans­late into the real world. What one likes to hear, and what one be­lieves oth­ers like to hear are two ideas that do not al­ways share a path. How­ever, some peo­ple get it right, some­times, and the re­wards of that ef­fort are great. So what if it’s an en­try-level idea.

The beauty of a road­ster is its abil­ity to make you smile when the top is down. Yes, open-air mo­tor­ing is a bliss in it­self, but when you have an en­gine with a sound­track as good as that 4.0-litre BiTurbo V8, there is lit­tle more you could want out of life. What a road­ster is sup­posed to do, pri­mar­ily, is make the drive ex­pe­ri­ence more alive. The clichéd wind in your hair, open road, and the free­dom of mo­tor­ing are all still be­ing ac­tively pur­sued for a rea­son: they feel good. And they do make you feel alive. Be­sides, hav­ing a big ol’ V8 does add to the ex­pe­ri­ence sev­eral-fold over some four-cylin­der kitchen blender of a pow­er­plant.

Right. So the AMG GT Road­ster is here, pack­ing a fold­ing soft-top and the hand­built M178 BiTurbo 3,982-cc V8 that re­cently un­der­went an up­grade to 476 PS and 630 Nm. Those aren’t small num­bers. They’re just as ca­pa­ble as tick­ling your ex­cite­ment buds as they are at rais­ing hell — on road or track. And, for Rs 2.19 crore — a hefty sum, in­deed — you could find your­self driv­ing down a m oun­tain road, the wind in your hair, and the rest of your hair stand­ing on end as the GT Road­ster does what it does best — bring the thrill in spades, with its own unique sound­track.

I was not on a moun­tain road. I was on a For­mula One race­track. And the wind was heavy with the stench of over­pop­u­la­tion and its as­so­ci­ated short­com­ings. But, even so, as I baked un­der the 38.5° C sun — with the track tem­per­a­ture pre­sum­ably over 50° — I found a smile had man­aged to sprout and grow as I waited my turn to drive the glis­ten­ing candy-ap­ple red AMG sports car. AMG do it right. They al­ways do it right. The Panamer­i­cana grille looks mean. The lines on this GT are cur­va­ceous and se­duc­tive and very, very invit­ing. It’s a naughty lit­tle road­ster, and the smile with those teeth show­ing only add to the want of jump­ing in and just go­ing wild around the closed cir­cuit. And, pho­tos clicked, that’s just what I did.

The af­ter­noon sun threat­ened to brown me an­other shade of tan, but the AMG GT Road­ster, with its al­can­tara rich in­te­rior and chis­elled seats had other plans. Foot on the brake, push the glassy ‘Start’ but­ton sit­ting in the taste­fully milled alu­minium cen­tre con­sole, and the V8 growls to life. Rem­i­nis­cent scenes came back to mind. I’d only re­ceived a taxi-lap in the SLS AMG some time ago around this very cir­cuit. The M159 6,208-cc nat­u­ral V8 in there sounded pow­er­ful, yes, but ex­tremely el­e­gant and re­fined; like a 6’6” bouncer in a suit who spent three years in soft-skills train­ing. This AMG GT Road­ster sounds noth­ing like that. Where the M159 was a po­ten­tial Grammy-win­ning bari­tone, this M178 is a brute blar­ing its vo­cals loud and proud. This V8? It sounds raw. It sounds like it was made by speed freaks that want to en­gage ev­ery sense on the move, and not just thrill your eyes with the sen­sa­tion of speed it’s ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing. Hear­ing what sounds like an an­gry bear at the helm of a heavy truck pro­vides for a com­pletely dif­fer­ent sen­sa­tion. Your eyes be­come alert, yes, but that’s from the tin­gling in the back of your head from the en­gine noise. And it’s a glo­ri­ous noise!

Head­ing into the first cor­ner down the start-fin­ish straight, I’m past 180 km/h, the AMG 7SS is barely done nib­bling down fourth, and the revs have piled on just right for an en­gage­ment through the roof. If the roof was on, it would have been raised, just like the ex­cite­ment and the hair on my hands. Into the first cor­ner and the GT darts in pre­cisely. No un­der­steer, no over­steer, and a lit­tle bit of tyre squeal as I change from right to left and head up the hill for Turn Three and the back straight.

It may be a front-mid-en­gined GT, but — speak­ing purely from a sound per­spec­tive — the rout­ing of the ex­haust makes it al­most seem like the en­gine is an inch away from the back of your head! It’s wild, al­most rau­cous, and feels com­pletely un­hinged. And I ab­so­lutely love it! It’s the au­ral bliss which can re­sult only from the finest met­al­lur­gi­cal skill-set and piec­ing ev­ery bit of the puz­zle to­gether with ut­most pre­ci­sion and flair. A chunk of rea­son be­hind sali­vat­ing at this prospect is that to­day we know the en­vi­ron­ment is in a cri­sis. There will be elec­tric cars and they will be just as quick. Yet, for those who have craved these fos­sil-fuel pow­ered metal mon­sters, it’s en­gines like these that rekin­dle hope. Shut down a bank of cylin­ders. Shut off fuel sup­ply. Hell, en­able elec­tron­i­cally-con­trolled coast mode. But keep the essence of mo­tor­ing alive. Let the en­gine roar to its heart’s con­tent. Let the wide low-

pro­file tyres squeal as you at­tack the bends. Let the seat bol­sters squeeze you in­ap­pro­pri­ately as grav­ity and G-force make other plans for your body than what you and the car set out to ac­com­plish. So what if it’s “only” 476 horse­power? So what if it’s a down­sized en­gine? It’s still eight cylin­ders. It’s still rear-wheel drive. And it can still chew you up and spit you out awk­wardly if you get ahead of your­self and do some­thing stupid. The AMG GT (and the GT S) was a re­birth — a res­ur­rec­tion — of the sports car for Mercedes-AMG. This one feels no dif­fer­ent. Okay, I can hear the en­gine a lit­tle bet­ter with the roof down, but that’s about it.

A cou­ple of decades ago, F1 cars had 450 PS. Peo­ple were set­ting records with 500 PS. The world’s fastest car in the late 1990s did over 380 km/h with 627 PS. What is it now? Why do you need 800 PS to do 350 km/h? It’s like the car needs 450 PS to just sub­due the elec­tron­ics and tell them to sit down and shut up! When a car man­ages to do more with less — that’s the mantra to­day, isn’t it? — it’s great. No, I’m not talk­ing about go­ing more miles on lesser fuel. It’s about de­liv­er­ing more thrill with less power. Mercedes-AMG have given us a raw sports car, the likes of which take the bat­tle to the sports car of all sports cars: the Porsche 911. Never have the two ends of Stuttgart been so evenly matched. So there are mul­ti­ple power out­puts and body styles — hard-top, soft-top, glass-top, what-not — but they do what they set out to do: be proper sports cars. I don’t know about you, but with the AMG GT, I be­lieve the world has two in­cred­i­ble car lines. And, for me, that’s rea­son enough to cel­e­brate the present. It doesn’t mat­ter that they trim out the top-end and give you 476 PS. Pile on the pres­sure and they’ll give you a 557-PS GT C — coupé and road­ster. Pile it on a lit­tle more and you would prob­a­bly even re­ceive a 600+ PS Black Se­ries. Let AMG work the top like only they know how to. You won’t be dis­ap­pointed. Not if they keep do­ing cars like this. Never.

( Left) Sporty ‘de­signo’ in­te­rior blends man­made leather with al­can­tara and red stripes. Con­vert­ible top is avail­able in one of three colours

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