With an SLS-inspired silhouette, stunning design and a brand new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, Mercedes-AMG's
second bespoke model takes aim at the 911
DIAL 911 BECAUSE MERCEDES-AMG has cocked its rifle and trained sights on Zuffenhausen. This is the AMG GT, the replacement for the spectacularly gullwinged SLS AMG and slotted one segment lower. It's built to directly rival the venerable Porsche, as well as a whole host of accomplished rivals including the Audi R8 and Jaguar F-type. Estimated to be priced in the region of ` 1.3 crore when it is launched in mid-2015 in India, the AMG GT will be significantly cheaper than the ` 2.4 crore price tag the SLS wore towards the end of its run, and will be the second series production model from Mercedes-Benz's performance car division in Affalterbach in Germany.
Similar to the SLS AMG, the GT has an Aluminium spaceframe chassis but apart from the passenger cell, which is carried over, the rest of it has been designed from scratch. The AMG GT has a shorter wheelbase and reduced overhangs for better agility, though the width and tyre sizes remain the same as the SLS.
The coupe is clothed in a lightweight Aluminium body structure that is claimed to weigh 231kg. Only the rear hatch is steel and you can option a glass or Carbon fibre roof. The front cross-member is in even lighter Magnesium – a critical area to keep weight down as it is ahead of the front axle line. There's a bespoke double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension also made largely from Aluminium.
The engine is the brand new M178 4.0-litre direct-injection V8, closely related to the CLA 45 AMG's four-cylinder unit with which it shares a bore and stroke. Dubbed ‘hot-V', the twin turbochargers are squeezed between the cylinder banks, keeping the motor compact. Mounted well behind the front axle line for a front mid-ships layout, the engine gets Nanoslide low-friction cylinder-bore surfaces that also feature on AMG's F1 engines, forgedAluminium pistons, Zirconium alloy cylinder heads and a dry-sump lubrication system. And despite the turbos, AMG promises a properly full-chested AMG soundtrack and none of that exhaust piped through the speakers stuff.
To give it 43:57 front/rear weight distribution, the 7-speed twin-clutch Getrag gearbox is mounted at the rear in a transaxle layout, connected via a Carbon fibre torque tube. The ESP system gets two Sport modes: S for bumpy racetracks like the Nurburgring, S+ for ultra smooth tracks like Hockenheim and our very own BIC. The GT S gets Race mode (launch control) and of course, you can switch ESP off completely. It may not be as lairy and oversteery as the SLS was, but the GT is also designed to be a lot of fun, “not like a Playstation”.
The AMG GT will be available in two guises: the standard variant gets 456bhp at 6000rpm and 600Nm of torque between 1600rpm and 5000rpm. The GT S gets 503bhp at 6250rpm and 650Nm from 1750-4750rpm for a claimed 0-100kmph time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 310kmph (4.0 seconds and 303kmph for the GT). Both versions get a locking rear differential, mechanical on the GT, electronic on the GT S for faster response and accuracy. The GT S also gets active dampers from F1 supplier Multimatic, which are faster acting and more precise
than regular magnetorheological units. Active engine and driveline mounts can also be specified – all four individually controllable – to prevent the torque tube and transmission from flexing under accelerative load.
Brakes are massive 360mm steel discs on the GT, while the GT S gets increased 390mm discs at the front. Carbon-ceramic discs measuring 402mm at the front and 360mm at the rear can also be specified for further performance gains and weight reduction. Steering is electro-hydraulic, claimed to be tuned for better accuracy and feedback. Nineteen-inch 255/35 front and 295/35 tyres are fitted on the GT, while the GT S gets fatter 265/35 19-inch fronts and 295/30 20- inchers at the rear.
To the styling then, and the silver arrow proportions look fantastic in the flesh, particularly with one of the display cars cloaked in a matte Aluminium finish that instantly brought to memory those legendary racing cars. There are no gullwing doors but the shape still has an exaggerated long bonnet and cab-rearwards design reminiscent of the SLS, now with lovely detailing. The liftback-style tailgate is reminiscent of the F-type, while there's an active rear spoiler to aid aero. The tailgate also allows the GT to pass the golf bag test (two in fact, will fit) and the suspension has been tuned to be comfortable when not on a racetrack.
To questions on hints of the 911 in the design, exterior designer director Robert Lesnik says, “The
THIS IS THE AMG GT, THE REPLACEMENT FOR THE SPECTACULARLY GULLWINGED SLS AMG AND SLOTTED ONE SEGMENT LOWER TO DIRECTLY RIVAL THE VENERABLE PORSCHE
911 is an icon, but this company has some design icons. We don't need to copy anyone.”
Inside, Mercedes has created an environment that is comfortable yet sporty, with a low seating position, concave door panelling and thick, curving centre console encompassing the passengers. There's an 8.4-inch central screen sitting atop the dash, whilst a mixture of leather, Carbon fibre trim and matte silver finishes add to the sporting luxury theme. The centre console's ‘Drive Unit' is even set in a V8 layout as a nod to what's burbling away up front.
Motorsport is at the heart of AMG and not only did Nico Rosberg drive the AMG GT at the launch, but it was preceded by the back catalogue of greatest hits including the 300SEL 6.3 ‘Red Pig' and 300CE 6.0 ‘Hammer', while in the audience sat AMG founders Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher. That history, along with the MercedesAMG's purple patch in Formula 1 will be a crucial part of the AMG GT's appeal as it takes aim at the best from Zuffenhausen, Ingolstadt and Coventry.