Mercedes-AMG GT S

Fresher, faster ... and definitely not softer

RYAN LEWIS

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

YES, you read that right; Mercedes-AMG has updated its theatrical hot rod, the GT S.

No, you probably didn’t notice because the differences are minimal, and Affalterbach’s intramural twoseater felt as fresh beforehand as the day it launched, which – remarkably – was almost three years ago.

But since debuting the GT S to establish the range in Oz in 2015, Mercedes has expanded the local GT family to include another five variants, leaving the GT S Coupe in need of a mild refresher to bring it up to speed.

It now sports AMG’s signature Panamericana grille and a lightly restyled front apron with active cooling vents. Elsewhere it’s the same dramatic beast as before; cab-rearward silhouette, low roofline and a road presence that oozes menace.

Lurking beneath its long, low bonnet is AMG’s riotous, handbuilt twin-turbo V8. A slight performance bump gains the dry-sump lump another 9kW/ 20Nm, not that you’ll notice in the context of 384kW/670Nm totals.

At $298,711 the GT S draws an obvious comparison with the brilliant Porsche 911. The AMG lacks the 911’s ultimate steering precision and tactility, but it will slap a wicked grin across your face whether you’re absolutely nailing an apex or not.

It does this firstly with the completely antisocial and wholly addictive exhaust bellow that fractures the air at a ‘can that really be legal?’ volume.

Then there’s the cabin experience that sits driver and passenger closer to the rear wheels than the fronts, which provides the sensation of the chassis pivoting around the occupants’ hip point. The hugely grippy front-end and inherently balanced chassis hunker down through corners while rocketing through with monstrous speed.

There’s a hardened attitude to the way this GT demolishes a road. It’s forever eyeing off any twisty bit of tarmac ahead.

Adaptive dampers feature in the GT S (a point of difference to the sub-S GT) with three modes, though the softest of those is Comfort in name only. A resolute ride is part of its demeanour, but that lack of compliance grows tiring over long distances. Same goes for the loud tyre roar. The GT S is a sports car to the core.

Mercedes-AMG has nailed the emotional criteria here. The GT S looks spectacular, sounds ferocious and is made to be seen in. There’s a sense of occasion with this car that’s arguably greater than in an equivalent 911, and it always feels special – whether you’ve found a road to fully let the animal off the leash or you’re simply Sunday cruising. nstrous ned T

PLUS & MINUS

Thunderous performance; almighty grip; spectacular styling; character Road noise; no genuine Comfort mode; last-o gen infotainment system Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Mercedes-AMG GT S 3982cc V8(90°), dohc, 32v, twin-turbo 384kW @ 6250rpm 670Nm @ 1800-5000rpm 7-speed automatic 1570kg 3.8sec (claimed) 9.5L/100km $298,711 Now Beef injection In its initial configuration the GT S was criticised for overly light and remote steering, and excessive ride harshness. There are no on-paper changes there for 2018, but insiders suggest AMG took the feedback and adjusted calibrations. The stocky coupe is still spooked by mid-corner bumps and the steering remains quick, but there’s more weight and its once spikey off-centre response has been toned down. Colleagues who have driven both agree the changes are noticeable.