What is it?
The bloke in charge of the way the new Mercedes-AMG GT C coupé drives is called Markus Hofbauer. He used to work at Porsche, and that he prefers a 911 Turbo to a 911 GT3 tells you more than a little about the Mercedes-AMG GT range.
It’s in the way the 911 Turbo goes about things, see; and Hofbauer knows, because he helped engineer 911 dynamics before he moved to AMG. You don’t have to be absolutely ‘on it’ all the time to make decent progress in a 911 Turbo. It’s fast, but secure and unflappable.
Which brings us to the car Hofbauer is actually here to introduce to us today: the Mercedes-AMG GT, which has, conveniently for the purposes of this article, become available in C specification as a coupé, almost completing the two-door GT range.
A quick recap. The GT is the second 100% AMG sports car, following on from the SLS. It’s a two-seat coupé and roadster, with an engine in the front and drive to the back, where sits a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle, driving the rear wheels.
You can have a GT in base form as a coupé and roadster, which has 496bhp; or you can have it in S form, which adds an electronically controlled limited-slip differential in place of a pure mechanical one, and has 515bhp - though that only comes as a coupé.
Then there’s the C, which we’ve tried in roadster form before but has now arrived as a coupé too – initially in 500 examples of ‘Edition 50’ trim only – priced at £139,855. But, once those have run out, it’ll be 12 grand cheaper for no great loss. It has 550bhp.
Finally, there’s the GT R, AMG’s answer to a 911 GT3 (or Turbo), if you like, only not limited in production, making 576bhp, and available as a coupé only. AMG could make a roadster, but probably won’t. At least, Hofbauer would prefer it if they didn’t, but knows that given the GT C has the same chassis settings in both coupé and roadster form, they wouldn’t have to ask for his help to tune an R roadster anyway.
Which just leaves the S model looking oddly unfinished, because it’s the only standard variant unavailable as a roadster. Will one arrive? Perhaps. I think AMG looks at the gradual roll-out of Porsche models, and the publicity that comes with them, a little enviously. So there might be a few more words on it here in a few months.
But back to that 911 comparison. The AMG GT range, across these six models, is now, like 911s, meant to offer something broadly rather appealing: a base roadster for boulevardiers, up to an R for track enthusiasts, albeit all off of fundamentally the same 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine and gearbox.
There are some alterations inside as you move up the GT range – the R will offer you harnesses, for example, while the base models get the softer furnishings, but fundamentally there’s not so much between them. Just a cabin that looks and feels well-finished, with the full gamut of Mercedes’ entertainment and info systems, pleasingly laid out.
There are perhaps a few too many buttons on that big transmission tunnel, which, combined with the letterbox view out over a long bonnet, makes the GT feel quite the muscle car, in its way: you sit near the back, overlooking the lengthy nose.
It’s a welcoming, soothing, evocative interior, albeit one that’ll be cramped for taller drivers – mysteriously, because this is a big car. I suppose it’s because it’s mostly aluminium. The Jaguar F-Type, similar of layout, isn’t immune from the same thing.