We’re big fans of the regular AMG GT but there’s no doubt it’s a time and place car: you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time in order to enjoy it most, ideally somewhere smooth, wide and quiet.
The GT R is, in some ways, similar, because regardless of what you do with the chassis and engine, you’ll still be sitting behind the latter, with the front wheels quite a long way away.
But accept that the car will never be as narrow as a Porsche 911 and that you’ll never sit close enough to the fronts for it to feel as pointy as, say, a McLaren 570S, and you’ll not be disappointed by the way the GT R goes down the road.
There’s an underlying firmness to its suspension, no question, even if you pop the dampers in their softest setting.
But it’s far from having the harshness we feared it might when we first drove this car in Portugal on smooth roads. Even on gnarled asphalt that follows crests and lumps set down millennia ago, the GT doesn’t pitch you off line or corrupt its steering, although it does retain elements of that hot rod-ish character that suggests it wasn’t designed for the UK’s tighter B-roads.
With pretty reactive steering just off the straight-ahead, roads that require continual small adjustments aren’t its natural habitat. The car likes to be going straight for a while, and then turning a fair bit, rather than being guided or flowed, especially given the steering’s reluctance to straighten itself from bigger inputs; instead, you feel you have to unwind it yourself at lower speeds.
It’s no surprise, then, that the GT R much more easily finds its feet on a circuit. In that environment there’s still notable body movement even with the dampers fully firmed up, although that’s understandable given how much of the car’s development took place at the Nürburgring.
The German circuit demands some compliance, and the GT R’s honing there explains how it deals with country road lumps. But that movement is well controlled and its track-going pace is little short of astonishing.
It’s less engaging and involving than a 911 GT3 – its 2.0-turn steering is high on speed but low on feedback – but, and as the stopwatch confirms, there’s no denying this is a seriously fast car.
The GT R is a curious thing on a circuit. As it does on the road, if nothing else it sounds like you’re having a great time — and the car wants you to feel like you are, too.
It certainly feels very capable, but while it’s engaging, at no point does it make you feel hugely involved like, say, a Porsche 911 GT3 would. The GT R is throttle adjustable, though; there’s not much understeer and only as much oversteer as you want, although our test car’s standard iron brakes felt tired quite quickly.
So you’ve had a good time and you’re aware the performance was pretty good. And then you look down at the stopwatch and realise that the GT R is all but as fast around a track as a Ferrari 488 GTB. Which is, quite simply, utterly remarkable.