What's it like?
In addition to the ingredients we mentioned previously, the GT has inherited the new transmission tunnel design from the larger GT63 four-door, with its ‘display’ toggle buttons for things like transmission mode and active exhaust setting. The appearance of that new console is intended to mirror the shape of the car’s V8 engine – although it’s a likeness you’ll need a fair bit of imaginative freedom to appreciate. Truth is, this is an oddly imposing edifice of a fixture in what’s a fairly tight cockpit, and it seems to unhelpfully displace the furnishings and switchgear around it. I didn’t like it much.
As part of the interior redesign, meanwhile, the old rotary input device for the GT’s infotainment system has been dispensed with, and some of its infotainment menu shortcut buttons have gone also. The new steering wheel’s remote ‘thumbpad’ controls go a reasonable way to making up for the shortfall on usability when it comes to switching between menus, for example, but they don’t cover for it entirely.
The driving experience of the entry-level GT hasn’t changed as much as the interior. Peak power and torque remain unaltered after the latest emissions-test recalibration; and 469bhp and 465lb ft also remain more than enough to keep the car’s turbo V8 engine right at the core of the GT’s hotrod-flavoured appeal. Open up the throttle and the AMG shrugs off its mass and picks up from dawdling speeds pretty instantly and with visceral thrust – and often without needing either full throttle or a downshift to do it. It sounds great, too – provided you remember to set that active exhaust to ‘noisy’ first.
Ride and handling are both good in parts, but not quite good enough to give the GT a genuine shot at super-sports car class leadership. Experience tells you to expect heavy control weights, but you don’t actually get them: light steering, which is quite direct just off-centre, makes the GT surprisingly manoeuvrable and easy to place at unhurried speeds, even allowing for the car’s considerable width and long bonnet.
At greater pace, however, that same light and direct steering which is a boon at low speed begins to feel over-assisted, making the car dive into corners just a little too keenly for comfort. If the steering rack had more on-centre stability, or just gave you a bit more heft to push against before the car started to change direction, the aggressive initial gearing wouldn’t be a problem, and the whole set-up would be more natural-feeling and intuitive. As it is, however, the power assistance seems a little too willing to help when you’re adding angle, and is also a little too unwilling to assist when you’re winding it off again.