The Mercedes-AMG GT Concept has been revealed, previewing an upcoming 800bhp plus petrol-electric hybrid-powered production model planned for UK sale in 2019.
Unveiled at the Geneva motor show, the uniquely styled four-seater has been conceived to complement the company’s existing two-seat GT sportscar in what Tobias Moers, chairman of AMG, says will be an expanded range of dedicated AMG models to be offered alongside traditional performance variants of standard Mercedes-Benz models in future years.
“With the GT Concept we are giving a preview of our third completely autonomously developed sports car, extending the AMG family to include a four-door variant,” says Moers.
The low-slung GT Concept, whose unveiling forms part of AMG’s 50th-anniversary celebrations, draws various styling cues from AMG’s two-year-old GT sports car, most notably its so-called Panamericana grille and thin, horizontally positioned LED tail lamps. They are combined with a new design lineage that is claimed to provide a glimpse of how the exterior styling of Mercedes-Benz’s future production models is planned to progress.
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But, while the GT sports car sits on its own unique aluminium platform structure, the production version of the GT Concept has been conceived around a specially modified version of Mercedes-Benz’s MRA platform, as found beneath the latest C- and E-Class and set to be adopted by the next CLS and a new S-Class due out in 2020.
At the heart of the new fastback concept constructed to preview AMG’s second dedicated production model is a new petrol-electric hybrid driveline, developed in partnership with the German car maker’s High Performance Production division and bearing the name of its newly created electric car division though its EQ Power designation.
The hybrid unit combines AMG’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine with an electric motor to deliver a combined system output which Moers puts at “up to 600kW”. This equates to 805bhp, topping the output of the most powerful of AMG’s existing models, the GT R, by a stunning 228bhp.
AMG says the GT Concept’s electric motor is networked with a combination of extremely light batteries that sees it deliver “an impressive electric range” together with a claimed 0-62mph time of “under 3.0sec”. The operating strategy of the new petrol-electric powerplant has been derived from the hybrid unit used by the Mercedes-Benz F1 team, with the battery charged whilst the car is being driven, both through brake energy recuperation and the aid of the combustion engine.
The production version of the GT Concept is also planned to be offered exclusively with a further developed version of AMG’s 4Matic+ four-wheel drive system, offering torque vectoring on each wheel together with an integrated drift mode function. Power from the electric motor provides direct drive to the rear wheels. As well as providing primary power in electric mode, it also acts as a booster to compliment the reserves of the combustion engine.
The new Mercedes-Benz model which goes under the internal codename X290 but is otherwise referred to by AMG insiders as the GT4, is planned to indirectly replace the CLS Shooting Brake, which officials confirm will be discontinued when the third-generation CLS is revealed later this year. Among the key rivals for the new AMG model will be the new second-generation Audi A7, BMW 6-series GranCoupe and Porsche Panamera.
Moers confirmed that he has local rival Porsche’s new Panamera squarely in his sights with the production version of the four-door GT Concept.
“Maybe we can’t be better (than the Panamera) in every way, but we can certainly be different,” Moers said.
Moers' advice was to expect class-leading power and driving dynamics from the road-going version of the car, which AMG insiders have been referring to as ‘GT4’.
“The simple combustion engined versions can be positioned above 600bhp,” he said – with the GT Concept itself suggesting that peak power could go as high as 800bhp for a petrol-electric hybrid.
“And of course we have an S-Class already, so we have more freedom to create a really dynamic driving experience here than many of our competitors do with their equivalents. This is our chance; we have to make this a true four-door, four-seat sports car like no other.”
The new family friendly AMG performance model, which stretches to almost 197 inches in length, is set to arrive in showrooms about a year after the first deliveries of the company’s range-topping 750kW plus, F1 inspired, hybrid powered, hypercar.
Setting a new design template
Stylistically, the GT concept treads new ground for Mercedes-Benz, both in proportion and detail. Created under the guidance of Mercedes-Benz design boss, Gorden Wagener, it adopts the relaxed surfacing treatment already adopted by the latest E-Class Coupe, eschewing the heavily structured look that has characterized the German car maker’s production models in recent years in favour of smoother and largely unadorned surfaces.
“The GT Concept embodies the most extreme expression of our design idiom, and underlines the autonomous profile of AMG as a performance brand,” says Wagener.
The GT Concept’s distinctive silhouette is dominated by a sweeping clam shell style bonnet that is set low and extends well back behind prominent front wheel houses. Further key design touches include a well-raked windscreen, heavily curved roofline, plunging rear screen and a short rear deck that forms part of the new car’s fastback tailgate.
The six corner Panamericana grille, with vertical slats overlaid on top a newly designed insert is angled forward to give the front-end of the new AMG model an outwardly aggressive shark nose style appearance. Underneath the grille is a newly developed version of AMG’s so-called A-frame bumper graphic complete with an integral central splitter element and three large cooling ducts featuring electronically controlled shutters which are claimed to improved aerodynamic and thermal efficiency.
The trapezoidal headlamps, imbued with new nanofiber technology that provides 3D illumination, reflect a new design theme set to appear on the next generation of models from the German car maker that Wagener refers to as the “predator face”.
Further back, the GT Concept features four frameless doors, a fixed B-pillar and Panoramic glass roof. The side window graphic, meanwhile, picks up on the theme already seen on Mercedes-Benz’s more recent coupé models. Hunches over the rear wheel houses also endow the new AMG model with a dose of visual muscle.
Practicality concerns have been addressed by lengthy rear doors, whose aperture runs well back over the sizeable rear wheel houses to aid entry to the rear. The GT Concept also features a large fastback style tailgate similar in style to that gracing the GT sports car, providing uninterrupted access to a deep boot.
The rear is dominated by a pair of thin, horizontally positioned tail lamps and a large, centrally mounted brushed aluminium tailpipe set within a multi-channel diffuser element within the lower section of the rear bumper.
Although the GT Concept’s stylistic similarities with the two-seater AMG GT are many, the production version is being developed not on the sports car’s aluminium spaceframe-style platform architecture but instead on Mercedes ‘MRA’ platform which several of AMG’s super-saloons already use.
But boss Moers warned not to under-estimate the amount of chassis technology from the AMG GT’s toolbox that could be applied to the ‘GT4’.
“Really, MRA just gives us a floorpan; it doesn’t limit us. The new car can have its own wheelbase and track widths, and can have the same kind of active aerodynamics, four-wheel steering and special ESP systems that you see on the AMG GT.”
From a styling standpoint, Moers suggested the finished ‘GT4’ would be very much like the GT Concept on the Geneva show stand. “The proportions of the production car (codenamed X290) really aren’t so different from those of the show car you have seen today,” Moers confirmed.
While unconfirmed at this stage, various engineering solutions developed for the production version of the GT Concept are expected to feature on the successor to the SL, development of which has been entrusted to AMG in a move which, Mercedes-Benz officials say, is aimed at injecting the next generation of the company’s traditional up-market roadster with heightened dynamic appeal.
Speaking at the car's unveiling, Ola Källenius, head of research and development said: "This car is a predator, and with its long nose and sleek body it has got a presence."