What is it?
It’s a Mercedes-AMG GT without a roof. It’s called the GT Roadster, unsurprisingly, and it’s tested here in an all-new ‘C’ specification, which sits between the GT S, which is quite fast, and the all-mouth and also all-trousers GT R, which is extremely fast.
That broadens out the GT range to quite a few models now, possibly confusingly, so here’s the simplified rundown. You can get a GT as a coupé and a roadster. All have a 4.0-litre V8 but the angriness of the car and engine package varies. There’s the standard GT, with a mechanical limited-slip differential and 469bhp. Then there’s the GT S, which gets an electronically controlled limited-slip differential and 515bhp. At the moment, this is a coupé only, but a roadster version will come.
Now there’s the GT C, which looks more like the very angry R model (more of which below) and gets that car’s wider bodywork and wider track, plus rear-wheel steering and a power output of 550bhp. At the moment, the GT C is available as a roadster only (the car I’m testing here), but a coupé will follow.
And then there’s the GT R: the Porsche 911 GT3 of the Mercedes-AMG GT range, if you like. This has all kinds of angriness and 576bhp and is currently a coupé only (but that might change). The designs of both coupé and roadster versions of the GT have been updated to look more like the R model, which means they get the prominent ‘Panamericana’ grille.
Got that? Good. The important thing for now is that the GT has become a roadster, so it is available with a three-layer fabric hood that can be raised or lowered in 11sec at vehicle speeds of up to 30mph. You can have the hood in a choice of three colours and the interior in more colours than you’ve hitherto been able to have, too.
Again, this broadens the appeal of the GT in the same way that Porsche does so intelligently with the 911, making a car for all tastes, countries and levels of driving enthusiast. You or I might like a GT R Coupé with matt paintwork, the Track Pack and the carbon-backed seats. A Floridian tennis coach might want a standard roadster with a beige roof. Now everybody can have what they want.
All GT roadsters get, like the coupés, a mixed-metal monocoque, with a little steel, quite a lot of aluminium and bit of magnesium here and there. In its C form, you can also add some composites, notably for the bootlid, which means that the car weighs 1735kg.
That’s still a fair amount (65kg) heavier than a standard GT roadster, on account of the differential, the active rear steer, more cooling necessity, the wider body/track, and the fact that the C comes with adaptive damping as standard, as well as larger wheels – 19in on the front and 20in on the rear. It also has a leather upgrade inside.
Nonetheless, the power increase is sufficient to give the C a 0-62mph time of 3.7sec, compared with 4.0sec in the regular roadster, and a top speed of 196mph to the standard roadster’s 188mph. You’ll probably want the roof up if you try to attain either. That 4.0-litre V8 I mentioned earlier has two turbochargers and drives the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission mounted at the rear.