Mercedes-amg GT C

We loved Road­ster. Now we get be­hind wheel of thrilling 550bhp coupé.

Auto Express - - Contents - Lawrence Al­lan Lawrence_al­lan@den­ @Lobal­lan

Why 550bhp coupé could be the most com­plete AMG GT yet

THE Mercedes-amg GT was a sin­gle car when it was launched two years ago, but since then the model line-up has ex­panded so rapidly that Mercedes now refers to it as the “AMG GT fam­ily”. Rang­ing from the stan­dard 470bhp GT to the track fo­cused 577bhp GT R via the S ver­sion and GT Road­ster, it pro­vides buy­ers with plenty of choice. So where does the GT C fit?

The 550bhp GT C bor­rows some cru­cial el­e­ments from the GT R – the wider body and rear track, ac­tive rear-wheel steer­ing and a por­tion of the ex­tra power – to make it more fo­cused to drive than the stan­dard car. But it’s also sup­posed to be a more us­able and sub­tle pack­age than the GT R.

We were im­pressed by the GT C Road­ster when we drove it in the UK ear­lier this year (Is­sue 1,466), but does the coupé ver­sion do any­thing to change our view? It’s not as ex­pen­sive as the equiv­a­lent drop-top (by £11,500), for starters. But for the time be­ing, the coupé is only ini­tially avail­able in lim­it­e­drun ‘Edi­tion 50’ spec, cel­e­brat­ing 50 years of AMG. This adds matt paint, black chrome trim and wheels, plus quilted leather up­hol­stery.

The coupé is 70kg lighter than the Road­ster, on ac­count of the re­moved fold­ing roof mech­a­nism and re­duced chas­sis strength­en­ing. But to be hon­est, you’ll be hard-pushed to no­tice the lower weight on the road. What you will spot is the big­ger boot, mak­ing this a true grand tourer.

Yet what makes the GT C more ap­peal­ing than the GT and GT S is its sheer breadth of abil­ity. The stretched rear track makes it feel im­pres­sively planted and com­posed where lesser AMG GTS lack fi­nesse, scyth­ing through fast bends with barely any body move­ment. The steer­ing is an­other real im­prove­ment – it’s still su­per di­rect, so takes a bit of get­ting used to, but there’s more feel and nat­u­ral weight­ing than in this car’s cheaper sib­lings. This com­bines to give a con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, al­low­ing you to build speed and ex­ploit the car’s grip.

The mo­men­tous trac­tion, com­bined with the GT C’s near-two-me­tre width, means this isn’t a lairy, old-school AMG car, how­ever. While it was rea­son­ably easy to place on the road on our Ger­man test route, we sus­pect Bri­tain’s nar­row B-roads may make it more in­tim­i­dat­ing. It’s far from straight-laced,

“The GT C’s ex­haust is more vo­cal than lesser GTS’ and of­fers a ca­coph­ony of crack­les and bangs”

though. You can thank the en­gine for that. We’re very fa­mil­iar with AMG’S hand-built 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, and it re­mains a dom­i­nat­ing fea­ture in the GT C.

All 680Nm of torque ar­rives at 1,900rpm, and from there the GT C builds speed with ex­plo­sive urge. It ri­fles through the gears rapidly, par­tic­u­larly in the racier driv­e­train set­tings, and it feels ev­ery bit as fast in-gear as a Porsche 911 Turbo. It’s also re­mark­ably re­spon­sive for a turbo en­gine, seem­ing happy to rip through to the red line.

The speed is only half the story, though, as no AMG V8 would be com­plete with­out the trade­mark gut­tural sound­track. The GT C’s unique ex­haust means it’s more vo­cal than lesser AMG GTS, snarling off the line and of­fer­ing a ca­coph­ony of crack­les and bangs when you lift off. It’s ad­dic­tive, and pro­vides an el­e­ment of the­atre that some ri­vals lack.

Equally im­pres­sive is that once switched to Com­fort mode, with adap­tive sus­pen­sion damp­ing the worst in­tru­sions and the ex­haust in its qui­etest set­ting, the GT C will cruise serenely all day long. It’s still a firm car, but it man­ages to feel less jig­gly than the stan­dard AMG GT. But we’ll re­serve full judge­ment un­til we get to try it in the UK.

And it’s in this set­ting that the brutish Mercedes al­lows its oc­cu­pants to en­joy the lav­ishly trimmed cock­pit. All GTS re­main er­gonom­i­cally flawed, but the high-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and knurled switches give the lux­u­ri­ous Audi R8 a run for its money.

The only fly in the oint­ment that stops us rec­om­mend­ing the GT C is the price hike caused by the Edi­tion 50 spec. How­ever, Mercedes will launch a more mod­est ver­sion of the coupé once this one has sold out.

IN­TE­RIOR Er­gonom­i­cally flawed cabin feels tight for taller adults, but lux­u­ri­ous ma­te­ri­als and a clear screen make up for it. Knurled met­als, gloss plas­tics and leather cover all sur­faces

EN­GINE Bel­low­ing 4.0-litre twin­turbo V8 re­mains the star of the show, scream­ing to the red line with pops and crack­les when you lift off. Drive modes (above) al­low you to al­ter set­tings

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