The SLS, were you lucky enough to encounter one, tended to make an impression. As Teutonic as the Bismarck and not a whole lot smaller, the gullwing-doored attention-getter had a way of commanding your gaze without ever entirely satisfying it.
The GT redresses that balance. The proportions are similar, but it comes with a curvier body. It’s shorter by 92mm and, from more than one angle, sensationally appealing. Not every tester appreciated the flagrantly pinched rear quarters, but admiration for the GT’s stylish image was virtually universal.
There are those, perhaps, who will miss the SLS’s extravagant method of entry and exit, but besides cost, the doors are conventionally hinged for a good reason: the absence of top-heavy gullwings contributes to the lowering of the GT’s centre of gravity.
The mostly aluminium underbody weighs just 231kg, with Mercedes claiming exceptional rigidity from a spaceframe derived from the SLS. The new engine, though, has more in common with the turbocharged four-cylinder unit found in the A45 AMG than the departed M159 motor.
Designated the M178, the V8 has the same bore and stroke as its smaller sibling and uses similar technology to retain a high-revving character. Its two turbochargers are mounted within the cylinders’ vee configuration, an arrangement that allows optimum response and, just as important, keeps the engine physically compact.
This is necessary because despite the available acreage, the V8’s ideal position is well aft of the front axle. Similarly, the new motor is lubricated via a dry sump – useful for high lateral loads but also necessary for mounting the lump as low to the ground as possible.
AMG’s devotion to dynamic balance continues in the rearward location of the transmission. The seven-speed Speedshift DCT – familiar but fettled for faster shifts in the GT – is assimilated into a transaxle that also includes a locking differential, electronic in the S version tested here and mechanical in the standard model.
The SLS was packaged thus, and together with a steel tailgate and magnesium front deck, this is a key reason for the GT’s rear-biased weight distribution.
Like its predecessor, the new model’s chassis also gets the purist-preferred double wishbones all round. The hub carriers, steering knuckles and wishbones are forged aluminium to reduce unsprung mass, and the three-stage adaptive dampers are electronically managed via AMG’s Ride Control.