2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R

Automobile - - All - Stars 2018 -

I tested a Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car about a year ago and ex­cit­edly an­tic­i­pated the chance to drive the street ver­sion, the AMG GT R, ever since then. Some­how, I man­aged to not drive it on the road be­fore our All-Stars track day at Speed­ve­gas. So when the track opened, I was strapped in and ready to roll de­spite tem­per­a­tures in the low 30s.

In a real rac­ing en­vi­ron­ment, cold tem­per­a­tures and wide, low­pro­file tires can make for some wicked en­ter­tain­ment, and that was my ini­tial sit­u­a­tion with the GT R. I wres­tled with it for three full laps be­fore I got even a lit­tle help from the frozen tires. By that time, my pas­sen­ger, who had mis­tak­enly jumped in the car right be­fore I set off, was about to re­cy­cle their break­fast and was turn­ing pur­ple. I pit­ted and wrote in my notepad, “This car is not for her­bi­vores. Driv­ing it makes you crave raw meat!”

Emo­tion seems to erupt around this car. Upon ex­it­ing it, St. An­toine ex­claimed, “Holy Mother of Af­fal­ter­bach! With that long hood and all that V-8 up front, I never ex­pected this brute to turn in like Barysh­nikov.

Mon­strously Quick, Mon­strously Re­ward­ing, Mon­strously Easy

But it does. Bril­liant on its feet!” Re­hbock echoed, “Holy hell is this thing good!” Ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor Mac Mor­ri­son climbed out, stared at the GT R hard for a good 10 sec­onds, and per­formed a lit­tle head shake. “I’m ab­so­lutely blown away not only by how well this car han­dles and at­tacks this race­track but also by how easy it is to drive quickly and ag­gres­sively,” he said. “This is one of my fa­vorite cars in years.”

Later in the day, tem­per­a­tures warmed up a bit, so I grabbed an­other run. The driver setup is ex­cel­lent in terms of ped­als, steer­ing wheel place­ment, and a well-bol­stered driver’s seat. It is a su­perb driver’s of­fice and ex­tremely com­fort­able.

The en­gine makes 577 horse­power and 516 lb-ft of torque, send­ing it all to the huge 325/30R-20 rear tires in a flash, pulling hard all the way to red­line in a most un­tur­bo­like way. The sen­sa­tion of un­re­lent­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion is aided by a bril­liant dual-clutch gear­box, which I felt shifted as quickly as the lat­est Porsche PDK. The brakes are ex­actly what you would ex­pect from a car like this, su­perbly ef­fec­tive with loads of feel. En­gine sound is a growl­ing V-8 rum­ble that is a lit­tle rem­i­nis­cent of old Amer­i­can big-blocks to my ears.

The GT R’s on-track per­for­mance makes it just as much fun as, per­haps even more than, ev­ery other high­priced su­per­car we had at our dis­posal. Frankly, it was kind of ridicu­lous how late I could leave my brak­ing and then how I could—while still trail­ing the brakes heav­ily—al­most vi­o­lently ro­tate

the R into an apex then im­me­di­ately get back to the gas with al­most zero steady-state throt­tle time. The ex­cel­lent trac­tion con­trol al­lows as much power to the tires as they can take while still pulling mas­sive cor­ner­ing loads. Noth­ing but im­pres­sive.

Later I found some­thing in­ter­est­ing in my notes to pos­si­bly ex­plain why I and oth­ers felt so com­fort­able ag­gres­sively ma­nip­u­lat­ing the 577-horse­power R through ev­ery turn. “I think the long hood, a more rearplaced driver po­si­tion, and a su­perbly con­nected steer­ing feel com­bine to give a unique driver per­spec­tive out the wind­shield. It felt like I had ex­tra time to get the car sorted on turn-in, al­most like changes were in slow mo­tion. This per­spec­tive also seemed to give me a re­ally early in­di­ca­tion of when the car was even think­ing about get­ting out of shape.” The re­sult was im­me­di­ate trust and con­fi­dence driv­ing the GT R at the limit. I wasn’t the only one. As Ta­haney de­clared with en­thu­si­asm,

“Oh my God, it’ll make a rock star out of any­one—even me.”

Cabin con­trols are typ­i­cal Mercedes qual­ity, and the in­fo­tain­ment system seemed a lit­tle more user-friendly than most. Cabin noise was sur­pris­ingly quiet, es­pe­cially when com­pared to most of the other quick cars we had rolling on huge rub­ber. There is an im­pres­sive amount of stor­age room in the GT R as well. The rear trunk is plenty big enough for a cou­ple of sets of golf clubs and bags for the week­end. This all adds nicely to the car’s case for be­ing a great daily driver, too.

The GT R might be the best ex­am­ple of brute force with no ig­no­rance I’ve ever had the plea­sure of driv­ing. Now all many of us can think about is, when do we get to have an­other go? AM

BY ANDY PIL­GRIM

PRICE: $157,995/$187,345 (base/as tested) EN­GINE:

4.0L DOHC 32-valve twin-turbo V-8/577 hp @ 6,250 rpm, 516 lb-ft @ 1,900-5,500 rpm TRANS­MIS­SION: 7-speed dual-clutch au­to­matic

LAY­OUT:

2-door, 2-pas­sen­ger, front-en­gine, RWD coupe

EPA MILEAGE:

15/20 mpg (city/hwy) L x W x H:

179.0 x 79.0 x 50.6 in WHEEL­BASE:

103.5 in

WEIGHT:

3,650 lb

0-60 MPH:

3.3 sec

TOP SPEED:

198 mph

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