2016 Mercedes-AMG GT / GT S Revealed: The New Porsche 911 Competitor Breaks Cover!
The Porsche 911 is no stranger to attacks—and now a fresh one has been whipped up in Affalterbach by Mercedes’ high-performance arm, AMG. True sports cars wearing the three-pointed star are rare; the last two times such cars appeared, the company aimed sky-high with the McLaren SLR and the just-departed SLS AMG. Both were priced to appeal to folks with incomes matching the GDPs of small countries. This time around, however. Mercedes-AMG is in attack mode and the new GT guns straight for the semi-attainable Porsche 911 and competitors such as the Audi R8 and uplevel versions of the Jaguar F-type.
The Mercedes-AMG GT is a classic example of trickle-down technology. Instead of ripping off a clean sheet of paper, the engineers started with the awesome SLS AMG supercar; you can see the similarities in their proportions. Both feature a long hood, a steeply raked windshield, and a compact greenhouse, but this car is softer, more refined, and less brutal to behold. Unlike the SLS, however, the GT has a large hatch to access the trunk, and the bay to which it grants access will swallow plenty of gear—12.4 cubic feet of it—for a week away. The gullwing doors of the SLS coupe (the roadster had conventional doors) were binned for cost reasons, which also serves to protect both that model and the door type’s special places in the brand’s history.
We won’t see a roadster version of the GT anytime soon. That product decision was made to protect the SL, which isn’t selling in anywhere near the volume Mercedes would like and needs a brand-new AMG GT roadster sitting next to it in the showroom like it needs a hovercraft mode. (Actually . . .) But if Mercedes’ brass changes its mind, such a model could be added in very little time.
Power for the GT and GT S will come from two versions of AMG’s brand-new M178 twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8. Replacing the spectacular M156/M159 naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8, this new engine will power a plethora of upcoming AMG models, including the next-gen C63 AMG, a crossover GLC63 AMG, and the next-gen E63 AMG.
It makes its first—and likely brashest—appearance in this car. Related to the M133 2.0-liter four-cylinder that powers front-wheel-drive AMG models, the M178 features two turbochargers nestled inside the vee between the cylinder banks, Nanoslide low-friction cylinder-bore surfaces, forged-aluminum pistons, zirconium-alloy cylinder heads, and a dry-sump lubrication system. The AMG GT’s version makes 456 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 443 lb-ft of torque between 1600 to 5000 rpm. In the uplevel GT S, the M178 produces 503 horsepower at 6250 rpm, although the peak moves to span 6000 to 6500 rpm when ordered with the optional AMG Dynamic Plus package. Maximum torque for the GT S stands at 479 lb-ft, and it’s available from 1750 to 4750 rpm (or up to 5000 rpm with the extra-cost package).
This power translates into awesome performance. Mercedes claims the standard GT reaches 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 189 mph; the GT S shaves off a further 0.2 second from the sprint to 60 and is capable of 193 mph. The GT S is fitted as standard with active exhaust flaps, which are optional on the standard model. Down the road, there will be even more powerful versions; AMG has aggressively hinted at a GT3 version to be offered as a turnkey race car. No gazing into the crystal ball has yet revealed a V-6 or other lesser powerplants, however.
Output is transmitted to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic rear transaxle, another trait shared with the SLS AMG. It offers various driving modes to match the driver’s mood from eco-friendly to full red mist. The transaxle layout, along with shoving the engine as far toward the firewall as possible, helps the GT achieve a claimed weight distribution of 47 percent up front and 53 percent in the rear.
The control-arm suspension incorporates a pile of forged-aluminum bits. The limited-slip differential is conventional on the GT and electronically controlled on the GT S. Carbon-ceramic brakes are optional on both versions. The standard GT is fitted with 255/35R-19 front and 295/35R-19 rear tires. The GT S gets fatter meats: 265/35R-19 up front and 295/30R-20 in the rear. The AMG Dynamic Plus pack not only fiddles with the engine management, but also brings dynamic engine and transmission mounts, a feature common to higher-performance Porsche 911 models.
The interior has a stylized NACA duct in the center console, where eight round buttons are arranged to resemble the top-down view of an eight-cylinder engine. Aluminum pedals add to the sporting flair, and the row of buttons located in an overhead panel create a futuristic, aeronautical vibe.
As is customary in the segment, Mercedes-AMG will offer various interior and exterior appearance and trim packages to allow customers to create a unique look, including a broad palette of paints and a vast selection of wheels. And Mercedes wouldn’t be Mercedes if the car weren’t fitted with a huge array of assistance, safety, and telematics systems. We’d probably choose to keep our GT as pure as possible, but it will be as easy as a few pen strokes or touch-pad clicks to spend tens of thousands of dollars on baubles and bolt-ons.
The top-spec Mercedes-AMG GT S will rip and snort onto our shores in the spring of 2015; the slightly de-contented GT will follow the next year. There’s no official pricing information yet, but we suspect the numbers will be highly competitive with those affixed to the aforementioned competition from Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Ingolstadt, and Coventry.