Out of all the high-end and exotic sports cars I’ve driven I’m not sure any of them has possessed the visual magnetism of this one; a street-legal race car that tames curvy roads better than any I’ve ever tested.
This is the range-topping Mercedes sports model – the AMG GT R.
You’ve wrangled with the choices and your research has led you here. You want a Mercedes sports car; one conceived from the beginning as a race-inspired AMG model. Well, that’s the GT, with a starting MSRP of $113,395. But hold on, which GT is right for you? Is the 469 horse base model enough? Maybe a step up to the GT S or GT C with their 500+ horsepower engines are what you need. Or will you go all in with the most formidable member of the AMG family, the GT R Coupe? Designed foremost for racetrack use, this model is ostensibly a streetable version of the AMG GT3 race car. No Mercedes model has ever been fitted with as much motorsport technology as this one. Bigger turbos, wider track, meatier tires, an oversized rear wing and increased downforce are just the beginning of the R pedigree. The manually adjustable double wishbone suspension has been specifically designed for the GT R, aided by AMG RIDE CONTROL matching the car’s firmness to your driving desire.
Rear wheel steering is standard, vastly improving cornering and when the driver wants less electronic intrusion, this traction control knob dials in 9 levels of slip on the rear wheels with stage 1 intended for wet track conditions and stage 9 letting it all hang out. Stronger, lighter weight carbon fiber is used everywhere from the torque tub that connects the motor to the rear transaxle to diagonal braces in the engine bay stiffening the front end. The 7-speed dual clutch transmission has modified gearing more suited to track use and the specially developed exhaust not only saves weight but shows off an unusual 3 pipe layout. And the sounds this car makes when in Sport+ and RACE modes are those of an angry, V8-powered European race car. All of this adds up to a GT that’s more powerful, faster, and nimbler. For me, it conjures up memories of testing that other GT-R, the one with the Nissan badge, and the Lamborghini Huracan but if you put me on the spot, this GT R Coupe gets my nod as the most impressive sports car I’ve ever driven.
Sitting low in these firm wraparound seats with a narrow windshield, you really do feel like you’re in a race car. And then there’s this cockpit control panel – a little overwhelming at first but quickly intuitive with knobs to dial in drive modes, suspension settings, exhaust loudness and traction levels. But despite its purpose driven nature, the GT R is still a car replete with Mercedes-level comfort.
Despite the 577 horsepower, 516 pound-feet of torque, 0-to-60mph time of 3.5 seconds and top speed of 198 mph, the GT R is way more everyday practical than you’d think. If you bought one and never took it to a track you could still enjoy it. The ride quality is tense but acquits itself of harshness. And even on these massive competition Michelins, it steers with ease and tracks straight ahead, exhibiting none of the tramlining you might expect from aggressive rubber like this. The relaxed Comfort mode combined with a surprisingly efficient 17mpg and a cabin stocked with Mercedes-level creature comforts creates a dynamic car that can do anything you ask of it, from your neighborhood to the track.
The dual clutch automatic is brilliant and not at all clunky, accepting of around the town driving while firing off immediate shifts when driven hard, particularly fun while in manual mode. And these backfires can be orchestrated at any time by simply grabbing the downshift paddle or lifting off the throttle. The $9,000 carbon ceramic brakes also play nice on the street without grabbyness or squealing. But it’s this handcrafted, biturbo 4.0-liter V8, low curb weight of 3,594 pounds and the GT R’s steadfast handling that are at the foundations of a world class sports car that is as exacting and fun as anything I’ve ever driven.
I really want you to feel how awesome the GT R is from behind the wheel. Beyond the instantaneous buildup of speed, the crazy fast manual gear changes, and the ear-popping backfires the most incredible part of the GT R’s drive is its ability to effortlessly snake through turns with the unique sensation of rear wheel steering pivoting the car on a dime. It is so well-planted and directly connected to the driver’s movements that you feel invincible. And in comfort mode, it’s docile enough to be driven every day; truly an amazing car with exceptional capabilities.
How amazing is this Green Hell Mango matte finish paint? It highlights the body’s contours so well and bends light in the most beautiful ways. Yeah, it’ll cost you an extra $10k and prefers to be hand washed but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I love this car’s proportions and with its lowered stance it just looks incredible. You want some negatives? The turning radius is ridiculously large, there’s no heads-up display, there’s quite a bit of cabin noise and the infotainment system is the old Mercedes unit without a touchscreen or full smartphone integration. Fully optioned, the price balloons from a relatively reasonable $157,000 to over $197,000 as seen here with all of the good stuff. But for the scrupulous sports car buyer, a green AMG GT R is a must addition.