The Mercedes-AMG GT R is the latest addition to AMG’s halo supercar range, which also includes less-powerful versions (GT and GT S) and a convertible (GT C). The R is the most performance-focused of the breed and has more power, wider tyres and less weight to improve dynamics, both on the road and around a race track. It debuts a bunch of AMG firsts too, like four-wheel steering, active aerodynamics and a complex 9-stage traction-control system, which are designed to increase high-speed stability and performance.
- The way it looks. In the metal, the GT R oozes pure menace thanks to bodywork that is lower and wider, plus a redesigned nose and grille inspired by the iconic Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing racing car. It is, quite simply, one of the most aggressively styled cars on sale right now.
- The engine. Nestled beneath that low, wide bonnet is a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 producing 430kW/700Nm thanks to new turbochargers, increased boost and a different compression ratio. The regular Mercedes-AMG GT S currently on sale here in Australia produces 375kW/650Nm. AMG claims the GT R takes 3.6 seconds to race from 0-100km/h and after experiencing its savage acceleration at a race track in Portugal, I have no reason to doubt them.
- The noise. AMG V8s have always sounded fantastic, but three exhaust pipes (yes three!) and less sound deadening enhance the GT R’s soundtrack even further. With the throttle wide open, the GT R’s V8 roar sounds terrific, but it’s the fuel-gurgling cracks its delivers on downshifts that are the most intoxicating. In its more conservative Comfort and Sport settings, noise is directed through the large central exhaust, but dial in Sport+ or Race mode and the wider (and louder) side exhausts are activated.
- The handling. AMG’s engineers have gone to dizzying heights to reduce unnecessary weight in the GT R, which now includes carbonfibre body panels, a lighter lithium-ion battery and lightweight forged wheels. Combine this with wider, super-sticky Michelin rubber (275/35 R19 up front and 325/30R20 out back) and the new four-wheel steering system (which turns to the rear wheels to improve low-speed agility and high-speed stability), and the GT R is a predictable and user-friendly car to drive quickly. The high-tech active aero helps here too, with parts of the GT R’s body work moving at speed to help reduce drag and to increase grip by sucking the car into the road.
- The GT R’s cabin is richly trimmed and feels expensive, however its ergonomics aren’t perfect. The gear lever is mounted right at the back of the centre console and is hard to reach and fiddly to use, which is particularly annoying in city traffic and when parking. The same applies to the buttons on the centre console, which look great (they’re arranged in a V formation, with four on side, to mimic a V8 engine), but are difficult to read and reach.
- Vision. The GT R’s low-slung cabin and narrow glasshouse can make it difficult to see out of. Vision through the rear window is particularly restricted and means you rely heavily on the reversing camera during parking.
- Fuel efficiency. No one buys a big V8 to save on fuel bills, however if you drive it hard, the GT R will drink upwards of 16L/100km which could become expensive. Official combined consumption is rated at 11.4L/100km.
ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD CONSIDER?
The track-focused Porsche 911 GT3 RS is the AMG’s biggest rival in philosophy and in price, though at $387,300 the Porsche is almost $30,000 more expensive. The Porsche is less powerful too, with its normally aspirated flax-six’s 368kW/460Nm well down on the GT R’s 430kW/700Nm. However the GT3 RS is arguably the sharper handler of the two. Other supercar rivals that compete with GT R’s price include the Audi R8 V10 Plus ($389,616) and McLaren 570S ($379,000).