Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S

A mighty behemoth re-incarnated

"Has the 911 finally met its match?" said Ershad

"It's got no Gullwing doors and the engine is completely new"

"A fighter jet profile starting with a long bonnet with protruded power domes outline a fast track silhouette"

"The GT S looks great from every angle!"

The SLS Gullwing was a superstar. It was the first Mercedes-Benz car designed by AMG in-house and the model stood for a unique German expression of 'sport and performance'. Succeeding the SLR McLaren, it had Mercedes-Benz's last naturally aspirated engine (a 6.2 liter block). The successor Mercedes Benz AMG GT S (our tester here) was nothing short of a mighty behemoth re-incarnated.

I couldn't make it to the AMG Performance Tour this year at the Yas circuit, and was disappointed about not getting to drive the all new Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S. I finally got hold of the exact same model and here's my take: the new AMG GT S isn't a direct replacement to the Gullwing - at least not technically!

First of all, it's got no Gullwing doors and the engine is completely new. On paper, it's the second sports car developed entirely in-house by Mercedes-AMG. The GT S is based on the SLS with the same width but a shorter wheelbase and a taller profile. Most of the body is made of aluminum alloy with exceptions for the boot lid which is made of steel and the engine bonnet which is made out of magnesium. In short, some weight was cut down. Under the hood, we've got an AMG 4.0 liter V8 bi-turbo block and the turbochargers are internally mounted. The 2 seater, 2 door sports car was quite an attraction and the yellow color has ensured it will continue to be noticed.

Visually, the GT S is fantastic. A fighter jet profile starting with a long bonnet with protruded power domes outline a fast track silhouette. The wide mesh grill with an oversized Mercedes logo in the center along with an AMG badge screams aggression and you can see the designers aren't being shy. LED headlamps with DRLs, side lights and three high-beam reflectors all join in to shoot a dragon stare. The arched roof flows smoothly into the broad tail, which has an overall rounded shape and the spoiler stands out. It works with the touch of a switch inside or, in sport modes, extends or retracts depending on the vehicle's speed. The GT S looks great from every angle!

The low-slung driver's seat is great and you instantly get the benefit of extra head room. But the long hood and low windshield header combine to work against front sightlines. There is plenty of space for the two seats allocated but with very little left for regular storage. The sweeping dashboard and the arched high center console are animated with loads of buttons and knobs. The dashboard has got circular air vents and a nice screen, however, the designers have gotten the gear lever wrong - it's been placed too far back and you really don't want this clumsy affair with a 510hp beast. The rest remains true German-refined premium fit and finish.

So what gives the GT S its 'S'? Some extra torque (49Nm) and of course an extra 48hp power count to reach 510hp. An electronically controlled LSD replaces the regular analogue counter. It also has the AMG Dynamic Plus Pack that comes with an AMG performance steering wheel and Active engine mount. The AMG Ride Control Sports Suspension is another feature what can shift modes from comfortable to sporty stiff. The S has also got an electronic AMG rear axle differential lock with variable locking effect and the additional 'Race' transmission mode. The AMG ceramic hi performance compound brake system is precise and looks great in those lovely alloy wheels which are bigger - 19" front and 20" rear.

Turn on the engine and the V8 erupts into life with a loud bark and long burble. The AMG note was quite exciting and on the road, I barely got time to register a reaction on my first stretch to tick 100kph. Such was the force that it all happened in just a few thumping heart beats - precisely less than four seconds.

The engine is compact and here's what they've done for better agility: dropped it down and moved it back well behind the front wheel centerline. As we down the accelerator pedal, the twin turbo effect gets into action right from the low rev range. The weight balance was impressive considering the long stretch of the bonnet coupled with power proportions. Now that demands stability and the GT S was up to the mark. The ride was firm, even in the normal mode without compromising too much on comfort. Quick and reliable brakes were all what you need to be confident and the GT S certainly was faithful. The flat tires were planted well on road. AMG Dynamic Engine Mount minimizes the effects of engine movements on the chassis. The stiffness of the engine mounts vary according to situations: smooth when cruising and hard in twist and turns. The AMG performance steering wheel was light, linear and precise - something you really want to believe.

On a straight line, the GT S was predictably stable but the surprise bit was to come in a cornering stretch. The moment I felt a bit lifted off, it locks up adequately to keep the vehicle straight and steady. It was a flat cornering maneuver just as we see in video games.

The 7 speed dual clutch auto transmission system was really quick. I preferred to ride in 'auto' mode as it barely wasted any time. However, I couldn't resist the paddle shifter under the steering for a more engaging affair. They say the shift time is improved by about 60 percent as we move onto the higher sporty modes. The GT S is very spirited and the drama doesn't end there. From a high speed run, as I got a couple of gears down, the concerto of 'pops and bangs' was too good.

Stability is an encouraging factor and now it's time to check out the switches in the center console. We moved on from "C" mode which here means 'Controlled Efficiency' all the way to Sport, Sport+ and Race mode. We had options to configure the exhaust rumble to all levels and the same was offered for suspension settings. When standing still, you can just feel the rumble note progressing as we shift modes. What a way to show off.

The message is clear. AMG GT S isn't just any Merc. Unlike the Gullwing, which was more a supercar, the AMG GT S is a thoroughbred sports car which is where we see the business today. The question is, has the 911 finally met its match? I can say they've done a great job as it checks the boxes on almost every aspect of sports car, be it the looks, interiors, performance, technology, spirited aggression or the most important part: handling. It's a fresh appointment and it looks like they are ready. Porsche 911, Jaguar F-Type R - you there?

Pros: outstanding looks, brilliant handling, commanding
Cons: gear shifter positioned too rearwards, the long bulgy bonnet affects the front view
Rivals: Porsche 911 Carrera, Jaguar F-Type Coupe R, Audi R8
Engine: 4.0 liter, V8 twin-turbocharged, 510hp @ 6250 rpm, 650Nm @ 1750 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch automatic with manual shifting mode, RWD
Performance: 0-100 kph: 3.8 sec, 9.5 L /100 km, top speed: 310 kph
Weight: 1633 kg
One word: Beast

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