A STUDY IN DRAMA, CLASS

Coming attractions

ANDY ENRIGHT

MERCEDES-AMG GT RANGE

THE Mercedes-AMG GT is not coming to Australia. The Merc marketing people from Mulgrave have put the red pen through it.

Not enough demand, they say. So no 350kW 4.0-litre V8 coupe or cabriolets for us. Ample recompense comes with the fact that we’ve got the green light for the 384kW AMG GT S coupe, 410kW AMG GT C coupe and cabrio, and the ballistic 430kW AMG GT R coupe range-topper.

The GT range that is set to ship here has been given a well-judged reworking for 2019, concentrating on three specific update goals: greater athleticism, more aggressive styling and a better-quality, more feature-rich interior to bring it in line with the four-door extension to the GT line.

The GT now gets the AMG Dynamics system that we first saw on the C63 S coupe. This augments the electronic smarts of the steering and stability control to offer keen drivers more options and the choice between stability and agility. As in the C63, AMG Dynamics offers Basic, Advanced, Pro and Master modes, while the GT R adds the clever nine-stage traction control dial. The Master setting is uncannily good, making the steering sharp without feeling nervous and allowing heaps of mid-corner adjustability. What initially feels a bit of a truck-like point-andsquirt hot rod in fact delivers enormous high-speed stability.

At more modest speeds, the GT can still feel a big unit. You’ll start feeling very wary of width restrictors, multistorey car parks and drive-thru lanes.

The driver’s seat remains almost on the rear axle with that enormous prow stretching ahead. It’s undoubtedly suffused with a giant dose of drama, but agility is not the first attribute that comes to mind in town. Go beyond that initial impression and really drive the thing and it has a genuinely talented chassis with superb body control, well-telegraphed feedback and a meaty steering system. The harder you drive, the better it gets.

The design tweaks are relatively low key, but help modernise what was already a handsome car. Lights, diffusers, exhaust finishers and wheels are the targets.

Drop inside the snug cabin and you’ll still have to claw the GT into gear T-rex style with a drive selector that’s set way too far back on the tunnel, but the ergonomics are otherwise good. A new Parktronic system of sensors and cameras also takes some of the anxiety out of sliding over two metres of width into a tight spot.

A revised centre stack is indented with a series of TFT display buttons which mirror the functions on colour display buttons on the new steering wheel. The clocks are now a fully digital 12.3-inch pane which can be configured through three modes. In the middle of the dash is a 10.25-inch widescreen display for infotainment functions.

The AMG GT updates improve certain elements of its functionality but don’t make significant changes to its dynamic character. A little subtlety and nuance has been injected into its DNA. They’re welcome additions.

ANDY ENRIGHT

Coming attractions

The new metal we’re driving next issue

1 MERCEDES-BENZ EQC

Quiet, refined and suitably premium were our takeaways from sticker of $150,000 when it arrives in October. our initial taste of Merc’s first all-electric SUV, though so far our exposure has been confined to the passenger seat. We’ll finally drive it in Norway next month to see how it stops, steers and goes. The first member of the burgeoning EQ family, the EQC400 packs an 80kWh battery, 450km range, and a likely

2 JAGUAR F-PACE SVR

High-performance SUV might be an oxymoron, though this one is especially tasty. The flagship of the F-Pace range, the SVR adds JLR’s stonking 5.0-litre supercharged V8 and some useful tech upgrades. A rival to the likes of AMG’s GLC 63S and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q, the Jag undercuts both on price with a $140,040 sticker.

3 TOYOTA RAV4

Seems Toyota’ onto a winner with its all-new RAV, at least in range-topping Cruiser Hybrid e-AWD spec. It performs strongly in our mid-size SUV comparo on p66, but next month has a verdict on the rest of the range. Split across 11 variants through four model grades (GX, GXL, Cruiser, Edge), buyers will have the choice of FWD or AWD, and petrol or petrol-electric hybrid propulsion. Prices will run between $30-50K.