Mercedes-AMG GT R

The Beast of the Green Hell at the BIC

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

Bark­ing dogs sel­dom bite, they say. Ex­cep­tions, how­ever, present them­selves ev­ery now and then. One such beast just hap­pens to be some­thing rather suited to a race­track, while also be­ing of­fered as some­thing that lets you live the race ex­pe­ri­ence on tar­mac. Not that we rec­om­mend rac­ing on pub­lic roads, or a pub­lic dis­play of trac­tion, but some things can’t al­ways be helped. Es­pe­cially when there’s a drive mode selec­tor po­si­tion that says ‘RACE’ — not an ini­tial like ‘C’ or ‘S’ but a full-blown four-let­ter mode not of­ten seen on a Mercedes Dy­namic Se­lect drive-mode selec­tor, even on AMG mod­els. This one’s spe­cial.

How spe­cial? Well, the Buddh In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit (BIC) was the best place for Mercedes-AMG to have the car with the hope to show­case at least some of its abil­i­ties. Now, re­mem­ber, this one set the lap record for a rear­wheel-drive car at the leg­endary Nür­bur­gring Nord­schleife with a blis­ter­ing 7’10.920 — some 35 sec­onds quicker than what the Mercedes-AMG GT man­aged not too long ago. An­other thing it did even less long ago was break the lap record right here, at the BIC, with Chris­tian Ho­henadel at the wheel set­ting a 2’09.853, three sec­onds quicker than the pre­vi­ous best and over five sec­onds quicker than its high-per­for­mance sport coupé pre­de­ces­sor, the SLS AMG.

Those are just two of its no­table num­bers. There are a lot more num­bers the AMG GT R musters and none of them are any­thing what you could call con­ser­va­tive. How does 585 PS sound? Then there’s the 700 Nm that come with it. Then con­sider it’s the light­est GT model on of­fer, weigh­ing in at 1,555 kg. That gives us an­other prodi­gious num­ber: 376 PS/tonne. All of those mean it can rocket off from stand­still to 100 km/h in 3.6 sec­onds and on to a 318-km/h top speed.

There’s more to it than num­bers. As al­ways. It’s what sets apart the good from the great. It’s not a GT S with a more pow­er­ful en­gine. Well, it sort of

is, but they haven’t just turned the blow­ers up one speed.

The GT R is a heav­ily recre­ated en­gi­neer­ing ef­fort. The en­gine is still an M178 4.0-litre BiTurbo V8, with its tur­bos nes­tled in­side its V, built by hand in Af­fal­ter­bach. It still uses an AMG Speed­shift seven-speed unit. And it still looks a lot like its sib­lings. Un­til you get closer and see all isn’t that sim­ple a job that was at hand.

The en­gine uses re­vised tur­bos with higher boost, with a lower 9.5:1 com­pres­sion ra­tio help­ing to deal with the added pres­sure, and more re­vi­sions to the ex­haust hard­ware to im­prove flow. The gear­box has a taller first, shorter sev­enth, and the fi­nal drive goes shorter, too: from 3.67:1 to 3.88:1. It has an elec­tronic rear lim­it­ed­slip diff, and rear-wheel steer­ing. And, more im­por­tantly, ac­tive aero­dy­nam­ics — ig­nore the big, fixed car­bon-fi­bre rear wing, it’s the magic at the fr ont I speak of. An ac­tive front split­ter drops down and redi­rects air­flow, mak­ing the GT R a leech for tar­mac, suck­ing up ev­ery ounce of grip like a greedy kid slurp­ing in that long bit of noo­dle. Then you have the wider 325-sec­tion rear tyres. AMG’s car­bon-ce­ramic brakes are also of­fered as stan­dard. What that re­sults in is a hair-rais­ing amal­gam of blis­ter­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion, in­ci­sive cor­ner­ing, and fac­erip­ping stop­ping power.

Look at it. It screams wild ag­gres­sion. The Panamer­i­cana front grille looks evil. Its low, mean crouch of a stance makes it

It feels like a cy­borg tyran­nosaurus – one with two equally ca­pa­ble sets of limbs both just as adept and claw­ing into your senses

seem ready to pounce. Get in­side, and you know it means busi­ness.

The driver’s seat is more or less fixed. You have ad­justable bol­sters. Rich al­can­tara lin­ing and a not-too-brightly lit info con­sole with a gauge marked up to 360 km/h is what you see. In the cen­tre is a bold yel­low knob: the trac­tion con­trol selec­tor with nine lev­els. The wheel is chopped and weighted firm, I can imag­ine not t oo dif­fer­ent from what the AMG GT3 race car feels like. Push the glow­ing start but­ton, and a heavy, pow­er­ful bark an­nounces the en­gine’s com­ing to power, fol­lowed by a deeply satisfying rum­ble into idle. It’s al­most in­dus­trial, that heavy idle. Sounds fan­tas­tic!

With the car hav­ing al­ready done quite a few hot laps, the oil tem­per­a­ture was over 100° C. Thank­fully, we’d be cap­tur­ing the car on cam­era over the first lap, mean­ing I could drive in ‘Com­fort’ mode. Should be suf­fi­cient to cool things down enough be­fore get­ting the beast on its toes again.

The ride qual­ity is firm, which­ever way you look at it. AMG Ride Con­trol works con­tin­u­ously, al­ter­ing suspension char­ac­ter­is­tics to keep the wheels planted. Ev­ery­thing is made to be rigid, and light. The car­bon-fi­bre treat­ment is ev­ery­where from the front lip spoiler and aero ele­ments to the roof and the large fixed rear wing. In­side, it’s part of the trim and cen­tre-stack com­po­nents.

Fi­nally, I get my cue, and switch to ‘Race’ mode just be­fore the fi­nal turn on to the main straight. The GT R lit­er­ally dou­ble barks in re­sponse and tight­ens up in­stantly.

In what is just about three quar­ters of the start/fin­ish straight, the GT R is roar­ing on its way to 200 km/h, shift­ing at 7,000 rpm. The en­gine power peaks at 6,250 but they’ve gone ahead and given it an­other 750 rpm till the nee­dles get to the red zone, I be­lieve, to sat­isfy that pri­mal in­stinct. Oh, bes­tial lust! It’s ex­plo­sive!

Brak­ing hard into Turn One, I hear the tyres screech into the next up­hill left­hander be­fore I turn the wheel sharply to the right and go bal­lis­tic on the back straight. Re­lent­less ac­cel­er­a­tion fol­lows, yet I had to en­sure it didn’t over­heat (boil­ing oil, re­mem­ber?) and kept pulling the right pad­dle just as the nee­dle hit around 6,200 rpm, as­sum­ing the re­ac­tion times — mine and the car’s — would trans­late into the mo­tor turn­ing over at just over 6,250 rpm by the time the shift took place.

At the end of the straight, the car­bon-ce­ramic brakes shed speed in a hurry and the fat rub­ber dig into the sear­ing tar­mac. One sweep­ing right-han­der be­fore get­ting back on the power, and then prep­ping for a set of cor­ners. The steer­ing is ex­tremely well-cal­i­brated and weighted per­fectly; a full lock to lock is just about two turns.

Di­rec­tion changes, then, no mat­ter how in­tense, are dis­missed swiftly and with ut­most pre­ci­sion. Stay­ing on the brink of more power as the seem­ingly end­less parabol­ica com­mences, the GT R teetered on the line be­tween more power and more trac­tion wait­ing to be de­liv­ered to get the turn over with. Just as quickly as it be­gan, the GT R had mon­stered through the cor­ner, and the next one as well, sharp­en­ing its an­gles of at­tack thanks to the rear wheels also bend­ing to serve.

It’s a beast, for sure, but not just some di­nosaur merely scary by size and at­ti­tude. It feels like a cy­borg tyran­nosaurus — one with two equally ca­pa­ble sets of limbs both just as adept and claw­ing into your senses. The spe­cial Green Hell magno paint fin­ish, too, is some­thing you’d think it got by swoosh­ing off any clear coats it had when it started off.

Pow­er­ful, ag­ile, and prop­erly wild. That about sums up the Beast of the Green Hell. It’s a backto-es­sen­tials su­per­car. If you want to feel the most tan­gi­ble sense of petrol mol­e­cules ex­plod­ing to pro­duce horse­power that lit­er­ally throws you for­ward faster than you’d imag­ine, this is the one to have. And few come close to its bark­ing mad char­ac­ter.

Dark theme in­te­rior with con­trast stitch­ing adds to sport ap­peal, as does the glow­ing red in­stru­ment con­sole ( In­set, top) Nine-level trac­tion con­trol lets you fine-tune power-de­liv­ery char­ac­ter­is­tics

( In­set, be­low) AMG Dy­namic Se­lect of­fers five drive modes, in­clud­ing a ‘Race’ mode

( Above Left) Car­bon wing sticks the 325-sec­tions to the tar­mac

( Above) Heav­ily re-en­gi­neered 4.0 BiTurbo V8 makes 585 PS

( Right) Ce­ramic com­pos­ite brakes with six-pot calipers sit be­hind forged al­loy wheels

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