What is it?
Onwards, friends, leaving no niche unturned, just as much in the super-sports car category as Mercedes is doing in the small family car segment. This is the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster in ‘R’ form and it takes the GT’s total number of derivatives to 16, across the two-door sports car’s coupé and roadster derivatives.
The R Roadster is one of the weirder ones in the line-up because if you imagine a Porsche 911 GT3 RS Convertible, that’s kind of where we are. The R Roadster has the second-most-focused GT chassis set-up (behind only the GT R Pro) and is meant to be a Nürburgring monster, but here comes with a soft-top body, which, you’ll know, usually means some dynamic compromises.
The aerodynamic, mechanical and dynamic specifications of the R Coupé and Roadster, then, are similar. There’s a big fixed wing (which looks a bit odd on the roadster), a 577bhp/516lb ft tune for the 4.0-litre V8, adjustable dampers, active rear steer and a wider track than on the GT C, the next model down in the range.
The R’s roof and body strengthening are the same as other GT roadsters, meaning a three-layer fabric hood and a kerb weight some 80kg heavier than the R coupé’s, leaving it at 1710kg. That is the first reason why this is a curious derivative: if you want the best driver’s variant of a car, adding 80kg to it is not usually how you’d go about it.
Reason two is that in removing the fixed roof, there’s always some compromise in body stiffness. Unless, say, you have a carbonfibre tub like McLaren does, and which this Mercedes doesn’t.