Mercedes-AMG GT S

Worthwhile improvements for updated twin-turbo coupe

b y SCOT T N EWMAN

ENGINE 3982cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo / POWER 384kW @ 6250rpm / TORQUE 670Nm @ 1800-5000rpm / WEIGHT 1570kg / 0-100KM/H 3.8sec (claimed) / PRICE $298,711 O CALL the original Mercedes-AMG GT S a disappointment would be far too strong, but it didn’t quite hit the mark. It was AMG’s second stab at a standalone sports car after the SLS Gullwing, but though its size, engine and price were all downsized, performance was anything but, its 375kW/650Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 punching it to 100km/h in just 3.8sec.

However, this repositioning put it head-to-head with the Porsche 911 and 50 years of finely honed sports car engineering. Against such a formidable foe any cracks in the armour were going to be ruthlessly exploited and the AMG GT S had two. At PCOTY 2016 it impressed mightily with its ability, but a dislike of mid-corner bumps and light, darty steering were a constant barrier to enjoyment and left Affalterbach’s T angriest trailing not only the 911 GT3, but its C63 baby brother.

Amidst the rapid expansion of local GT offerings from one to six (two Roadsters and base GT, up-spec GT C and hardcore GT R coupes) it’s been easy to miss the updates to the GT S, which consist of the ‘Panamericana’ grille from the GT3 race car, active front cooling vents, the option of rear-wheel steering (standard on GT C and GT R) and an extra 9kW/20Nm from the M178 V8, bringing totals to 384kW/670Nm.

To be frank, not even the most finely calibrated bum dyno is going to notice the extra grunt, but then the GT S wasn’t lacking to begin with. A C63 Coupe might have similar outputs, but the GT S’s 155kg weight advantage makes it decisively the more potent machine. The power is all-consuming and unrelenting, accompanied by an exhaust note that is awesome and terrifying in equal measure, with a deep roar under heavy load followed by seriously antisocial levels of exhaust theatrics on the overrun.

Full throttle on the road is a rare event, with any attempts to stem the accelerative flow by grabbing a higher gear rendered redundant by the enormous torque reserves available from just 1800rpm. The dual-clutch transaxle is a superior performance gearbox to the wetclutch auto found in other AMG V8s, too; not perfect, but quicker and more decisive in its shifts.

Easily the most apparent difference between the focused GT S and AMG’s more traditional two-doors is roadholding ability. Compared to a C63 Coupe, for instance, the traction and lateral grip the bespoke sports car can generate is stunning.

The early kilometres of our test

STAR RATING 4.5

Like Engine; smoothroad dynamics; attitude Dislike Dislikes bumps; road noise