Nicks badge from GT coupe; takes it lit­er­ally

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents -

THE ro­tary con­troller used to se­lect the drive modes of the new AMG GT 4-Door doesn’t move with quite the crisp pre­ci­sion you may ex­pect from a circa$290,000 su­per sedan (or should that be su­per-lift­back?), but that doesn’t seem im­por­tant right now. What re­ally has my at­ten­tion is the word glow­ing in the dash, ar­rived at via the se­lec­tion of Race mode, com­bined with a but­ton-push for ESC Sport. The dis­plays shows ‘Mas­ter’, part of the sys­tem in­tended to out­line the rec­om­mended driv­ing skill for each com­bi­na­tion. It opens with Ba­sic, moves to Ad­vanced,

steps up to Pro, and tops out with that term mak­ing me just a lit­tle un­com­fort­able.

This is the set­ting that ramps the pow­er­train to its most ag­gres­sive, the damp­ing to its firmest set­ting, and al­lows the sta­bil­ity con­trol its long­est leash. But Mas­ter? I’m a mas­ter of pre­cisely noth­ing; that ac­co­lade should be re­served for men like the bloke climb­ing into the AMG GT R in front of me, Ger­man tin­top cham­pion Bernd Sch­nei­der, who will lead our trio of cars for hot laps around Texas’s Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas.

Min­utes ear­lier, Sch­nei­der had as­sured me that the Mas­ter set­ting is en­tirely suit­able: “For sure, you’ll slide, but the in­ter­ven­tion from the car is very sub­tle; hardly any­thing at all if your cor­rec­tions are okay...”

Right then; I’ll take his word for it. Af­ter all, this all-new of­fer­ing from AMG only has 470kw/900nm, and the cir­cuit is fear­somely fast in most places, and tech­ni­cal in oth­ers. What could go wrong?

As we idle in pit lane wait­ing for our ses­sion, I re­flect on truthin-nam­ing poli­cies, and can’t help but think there’s a lit­tle sleight of hand here. The Mercedes-amg GT 4-Door Coupe 63 S, to give it its full moniker, is un­re­lated to AMG’S GT line in any­thing other than styling cues and some in­te­rior in­spi­ra­tion. That car, in its five-vari­ant line-up, is a reardrive, rear-transaxle lay­out. This new model is nei­ther of those things. It’s an all-wheel driver built on the MRA ar­chi­tec­ture that un­der­pins E Class and CLS. It’s sim­plest to see it as a lower, swoop­ier ver­sion of the E63 S with the wick turned up. Ef­fec­tively it’s a re­place­ment for the AMG CLS 63, which now tops out as a six­cylin­der model with a 55 badge. But that’s not to down­play the new car’s sig­nif­i­cance as only the third ded­i­cated model the AMG divi­sion has pro­duced, and the first with four doors and room for the kids.

And that bit about wick­ing up the 63 S? The twin-turbo 4.0litre in this in­stal­la­tion matches its pre­vi­ous torque record of 900Nm (in the AMG S63 su­per limo) but takes power to a new all-time high, with 470kw. So yes, com­fort­ably more than even the most hard­core of the two-door line-up, the GT R (430kw/700nm) that Sch­nei­der is strap­ping into.

Cu­ri­ously, as we ac­cel­er­ate hard onto the main straight and fire to­ward the up­hill brak­ing area for the turn one hair­pin, 900Nm doesn’t feel lu­di­crous, it feels about per­fect. The strength of this en­gine through the midrange feels mon­u­men­tal, the up­per reaches found via a tor­rent of grunt that’s de­liv­ered with ut­ter lin­ear­ity. Race mode opens the switch­able ex­haust, and al­lows the V8 to prop­erly open its lungs.

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