Even though ‘Performance’ is the first word in this event’s title, how a car makes you feel still counts for a lot. And while the Mercedes-AMG GT C was murderously fast against the clock, we sometimes bailed from it confused.
Nudge the steering into fast, smooth bends and it hunkers down on its fat Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s with proper focus. There’s a wall of grip to lean into.
The wider rear track and electronically controlled LSD also let you stomp on its twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8’s throat as soon as you’ve eyed the corner exit. Of course, its 252kW-per-tonne makes forward thrust cover-your-eyes fast and its thunderous noise will shake koalas out of trees.
Dynamically, though, things take a turn. While you sit on the rear axle sometimes, not even Rick, who has the most attuned butt out of all of us, felt confident in what the back-end was going to do. So what chance did us mere mortals have? Surprise it with a mid-corner bump and its chassis throws itself into a state of confusion to stop your heart for a moment or two.
MOTOR comparison: AMG GT C v 911 Carrera 4 GTS v Vantage
Still, on the right road, it is enrapturing when you’re feeling brave enough to tune into its frequency at nine-tenths. Its brutal mid-range, that can pull in any gear, and huge grip are pleasantly contrasted by its sharp steering feel and delicate front-end.
Its seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle shifts robustly and the sport bucket seats secure your kidneys better than an organ thief. But each situation comes with a balance of negatives; its steering had some iffy kickback on our road loop and its optional carbon brakes also felt too dull at first touch, or too sensitive half way through the travel. Meanwhile, the transmission’s low-speed manners left us wanting.
The interior’s beautiful to behold, but unfortunately, it’s a chore. The transmission stalk is placed too far back and its bulky centre console casts buttons (like the exhaust’s) out of easy reach. The ride, too, is on the firm side of things.
At $316,500 it’s obviously in proper sports car territory, but it’s hard to come to terms with that when it’s fitted with a sunroof. Conversely, it’s too fast and focused in practice to be anything else. The judges discussion tried to make sense of its place in the world.
With tremendous pace, grip and presence, it feels right as a track toy. But if that’s where the GT C’s going with this, we’d suggest just going the full-fat 430kW/700Nm GT R.
11 contenders, let the judging begin on Performance Car of the Year 2019
2019 MERCEDES-AMG GT C SPECS:
Engine: 3982cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
Power: 410kW @ 5750-6750rpm
Torque: 680Nm @ 1900-5750rpm
0-400m: 11.55sec @ 204.34km/h
The Bend lap time: 1min 27.3sec
Dylan Campbell - 7th
"Epic powertrain but chassis sometimes does stuff you’re not expecting. "
Louis Cordony - 8th
"Unbelievable noise and pace marred by little flaws."
David Morley - 8th
"I remain unconvinced by the ride, even if it is AMG-typical."
Scott Newman - 8th
"Why the recipe matters as much as the ingredients."
Rick Kelly - =5th
"A mean-looking car with a personality all of its own!"
PCOTY 2019 Scoring