Mercedes-AMG GT R
The Beast of the Green Hell at the BIC
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