Drive

We test drive the all- new MercedesAMG GT 63 S 4- Door Coupe in Austin, Texas, and find that it han­dles the track just as well as it does the high­way

Gulf Business - - FEATURES - GAU­TAM SHARMA

We test the new Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-door coupe

THIS IS LAUGH-OUT- loud fun. We’re at the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas – which hosts the US round of the For­mula One cham­pi­onship – and, up ahead, five-time Ger­man tour­ing car cham­pion Bernd Sch­nei­der is fling­ing his sil­ver MercedesAMG GT R around the track as though it’s a qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion for a Deutsche Touren­wa­gen Masters (DTM) race.

I’m perched in the brand­new AMG GT 63 S 4-Door and do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to keep up with the Ger­man race ace that is serv­ing as our pace­maker in the low-slung twodoor coupe. On pa­per, the odds are very much in Sch­nei­der’s favour, given that the lux­u­ry­lined saloon I’m driv­ing stretches more than 5m in length and weighs over two tonnes. Yet the GT 63 S 4-Door hus­tles around the cir­cuit with de­cep­tive pace and agility. It’s per­form­ing well be­yond my ex­pec­ta­tions of a big luxo char­iot that can seat up to five oc­cu­pants and stow 461 litres of lug­gage. The new MercedesAMG saloon flag­ship was con­ceived to ful­fil a spe­cific job de­scrip­tion – to take on the Porsche Panam­era Turbo while lev­er­ag­ing the ca­chet of the two-door AMG GT that sits atop the three-pointed star’s high-per­for­mance range. That said, the GT 4-Door has more in com­mon from a me­chan­i­cal point of view with the E- Class than the two-door GT, as the alu­minium space­frame chas­sis of the lat­ter could not be stretched to the shape and di­men­sions re­quired of a large four-door saloon with a spa­cious boot.

But it wasn’t just a case of

slap­ping a new body on the ex­ist­ing E-Class ar­chi­tec­ture and rolling the car out. The GT 4-Door is the only sedan to be pre­pared in-house by AMG, and al­though the start­ing point was an E63, a whole­sale re­vamp of the chas­sis and un­der­floor has been car­ried out to jus­tify af­fix­ing a GT badge.

There’s sub­stan­tial alu­minium brac­ing un­der­neath to boost tor­sional stiff­ness, and the GT also gets a whole new rear sub­frame and be­spoke front axle.

An­other key dif­fer­en­tia­tor be­tween the GT 63 S 4-Door and its sib­lings is the fact that stuffed un­der its men­ac­ing snout is the most po­tent ver­sion to date of AMG’s fa­mil­iar 4-litre twin-turbo V8. Thump­ing out 640hp and a mind-numb­ing 900Nm of twist, it pro­pels the two-ton­neplus sedan at the hori­zon with or­gan-com­press­ing vi­o­lence.

A 0-100kph split of 3.2sec and a top speed of 315kph is hardly slug­gish but, more than that, it’s the huge wave of torque on tap from 2,500rpm on­wards that really grabs your at­ten­tion. It’s a large part of the rea­son why the GT 4-Door feels about 300kg lighter than it ac­tu­ally is.

Nat­u­rally, de­ploy­ing this mas­sive grunt with­out fry­ing the tyres or mak­ing the GT 63 S an un­ruly mon­ster re­quires a chas­sis that’s ex­cep­tion­ally well tied down. To this end, the AMG braini­acs have thrown ev­ery pos­si­ble bit of tech at the car, in­clud­ing four-wheel steer­ing, adaptive air sus­pen­sion, rear­biased 4Matic+ four-wheel drive and an electro­mechan­i­cal dif­fer­en­tial that’s some­how able to make sense of mas­sive torque and huge cor­ner­ing loads ap­plied si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

We al­ready know the fourl­itre twin-turbo V8 well from other Mercedes-AMG mod­els, but in the GT 63 S it’s pos­i­tively mon­strous. The tur­bocharged V8’s mas­sive lowand mid-range grunt rock­ets the big sedan out of cor­ners, with sat­is­fy­ing drifts to be had if you so choose – al­though the car’s nat­u­ral ten­dency is to­wards gen­tle, pro­gres­sive un­der­steer as you push to­wards its lim­its of trac­tion and lat­eral ad­he­sion. Even more im­por­tantly, the AMG GT FourDoor is also a rel­a­tively re­fined and comfy propo­si­tion in real-world con­di­tions. We dis­cov­ered this dur­ing a road loop ear­lier in the day that saw us trickle out of morn­ing traf­fic in down­town Austin, Texas, be­fore tack­ling high­ways and wind­ing coun­try roads. Slot­ting the drive mode in its com­fort set­ting re­sults in the GT 4-Door mor­ph­ing into an agree­able cruiser. The ex­haust that’s so rau­cous in sport+ and race modes re­cedes into the back­ground, with noth­ing more than a muted bassy rum­ble per­me­at­ing the cabin.

The dash lay­out isn’t dis­sim­i­lar to the Mercedes CLS, with a full 31.2cm wide-screen dig­i­tal dis­play, dou­bling as the in­stru­ment clus­ter and the in­fo­tain­ment screen, with a vir­tual speedo that’s cal­i­brated all the way to 360kph. High­end mod-cons in­clude a Burmester sur­round sound sys­tem and LED cabin light­ing that can serve up no less than 64 am­bi­ent colours for the in­te­rior. The tur­bine-mim­ick­ing air vents are also a nice touch, as are the alu­minium-look high­lights in the steer­ing wheel spokes, door trims and seat­backs.

My pre­con­ceived no­tion be­fore driv­ing the GT 4-Door was that the new­comer rep­re­sented lit­tle more than some op­por­tunis­tic, mar­ket­ing­driven niche plug­ging by Mercedes and AMG. I’m happy to have been proven wrong. They’ve left no stone un­turned in max­imis­ing the per­for­mance po­ten­tial and ev­ery­day us­abil­ity of the GT 63 S 4-Door. It’s mighty on a race­track, yet per­fectly agree­able as ev­ery­day trans­port.

TECH SPECS Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe En­gine: 4-litre bi-turbo V8 Trans­mis­sion: Nine-speed sports trans­mis­sion Power: 640hp Torque: 900Nm Top Speed: 315kph Price: TBC

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