by Sebastian Cenizo
If you've heard of the Mercedes-AMG GT R, you'll likely be aware that it's a hardcore track-biased supercar that is still capable of taking you to work if need be. What you may not know is that now, the coupe has a roadster sibling sharing its stable. Just 750 examples are being produced, making it far more special and exclusive than something as vanilla as a Porsche 911 Turbo S. With 577 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque sent via a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle through a carbon-fiber tunnel to the rear wheels, this ultra-special roadster earns every penny of its $189,750 sticker price. With a cozy but comfortable cabin, this is a topless track weapon that you can still live with on the daily drive.
The GT R Roadster is an all-new offering for 2020, with significant changes over its less powerful brethren. A wider track accommodates GT R-specific lightweight wheels, while new LED headlights and taillights modernize the front and rear ends. The back features unique exhaust tips and a redesigned diffuser too. Updates for the GT R also include a new center console, a new steering wheel with the AMG Drive Unit for quick selection of driving modes and settings, while a lap timer and smartphone integration are also standard. Overall, the GT R is a completely reworked vehicle with more power, more grip, and enhanced aerodynamic traits that completely justify its price premium over the GT C.
|AMG GT R Roadster||
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
It's difficult to avoid sucking in your breath and taking a moment to let the design of the GT R Roadster be fully absorbed. Even with its folding soft-top in place, it's a handsome thing. The long hood ends with full LED headlights and the distinctive Panamericana grille. The fenders feature gaping vents while the bulging arches house ultra-wide tires wrapped around 19-inch wheels in front and even wider rears on 20-inch wheels at the other end. An adjustable carbon-fiber wing sits atop the stubby trunk while a functional diffuser houses a central exhaust exit. The overall impression is one of slightly restrained aggression that hints fairly obviously at blistering performance potential.
The AMG GT R Roadster is not short on length, measuring 179.7 inches from end to end, with a wheelbase of 103.5 inches. Adding to the menacing styling is the sheer width of this car - it measures 81.7 inches across. That width is further pronounced by a height that is tiny in comparison, measuring just 49.4 inches. With a curb weight of 3,746 lbs, the big V8 doesn't have to work too hard to get this thing going.
A single engine and transmission configuration is available for the GT R Roadster, and they're all about going fast. The familiar Mercedes-AMG 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with its hot inside the vee turbocharger layout is present once again, here making 577 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. All the power is sent via a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle transmission to the rear wheels only. This, coupled with Race Start (launch control), allows for 0-60 mph sprints of 3.5 seconds according to AMG. However, real-world tests have shown even quicker times. The top speed is limited to 197 mph, but this car is about more than just the components that power it and the speeds it can do in a straight line.
Thanks to active aerodynamics that activate and deactivate depending on the drive mode and the speed you're doing, the GT R Roadster can increase front end downforce and reduce lift to create the famous Venturi effect that essentially sucks the car to the road. Paired with the adjustable coil-over suspension that features adaptive damping, an adjustable rear wing, and a wide track with sticky rubber, and this is a magnificent machine that can pull over 1G of lateral force. Massive AMG-specific brakes bring the party to a halt in a smooth and manageable way, allowing for easy modulation even in daily driving, while optional ceramic discs can add further bite to really suck the eyeballs out of your face on the track. Despite its heavy performance focus, the adaptive dampers do an acceptable job of smoothing out smaller imperfections and you won't find your bones being ground to dust if you decide to use the GT R daily. However, its true home is certainly the track, where a nine-stage stability control system allows as much or little playfulness as you desire.
The AMG GT R Roadster is not the car to buy if paying for premium gas hurts your soul - this car requires you to do that often. Its official EPA figures read 15/20/17 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. With a 19.8-gallon gas tank, mixed driving will return around 336 miles of range, but we don't see ourselves doing much "mixed driving" if one of these ends up in our driveway. If considerably more economy is your goal, the 2019 Porsche 911 Turbo S cabriolet (which is still on sale) returns 19/24/21 mpg on the same EPA cycles.
The AMG GT R is a strict two-seater, and thanks to its low roof (when it's up), you'll have to duck on the way in. Nevertheless, you sit low and have plenty of headroom and legroom even if you're a six-footer, as well as reasonable adjustability to find the perfect position. Despite how snug the interior feels, the width of the car means you're unlikely to butt elbows with your terrified passenger as the well-bolstered seats hold you in place while you pull a G of lateral force in the bends.
A weekend getaway car this is not. Even with the roof up, you only get 5.8 cubic feet of volume, which is probably just enough for a race helmet and a small gym bag with your fire suit. Fortunately, space is not compromised by putting the roof down.
The cabin, despite its snug packaging, has a space in the center console for your phone and a small spot beneath the center armrest for wallets, keys, or a beverage. The door pockets, however, are so shallow that their existence is pointless, and the glovebox isn't much better either.
The GT R features a configurable 12.3-inch driver info display, on which you can find AMG Track Pace, a performance monitor and lap timer. Also included with every GT R is launch control and six drive modes that are controlled via the AMG Drive Unit on the steering wheel. Other features included are heated and ventilated seats, dual-zone climate control, and AIRSCARF, which wafts warm air on the back of your neck for top-down comfort. Front and rearview cameras make parking a little easier, as do parking sensors at both ends of the car. Pre-Safe collision mitigation is also standard along with adaptive high beams, but adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, heated mirrors and keyless entry are all optional.
The infotainment system is displayed on a 10.25-inch screen and blares music out via four speakers as standard, although a 10-speaker upgrade and an 11-speaker 3D surround sound system are also available, both from Burmester. Standard infotainment features include navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, a pair of USB ports, SiriusXM satellite radio, and smartphone connectivity from Apple and Android. HD Radio, voice control, and an SD card slot are also standard. TuneIn Radio and WiFi are available at an added cost.
No recalls have been issued for the 2020 or 2019 model years of the GT R in any form, but the 2018 coupe was subject to one recall for a seatbelt that may bind and thus cause slack.
In terms of coverage, Mercedes offers two four-year/50,000-mile warranties - one as a limited new car warranty and another for the powertrain. No complimentary scheduled maintenance is offered.
The GT R has not been crash-tested by either the NHTSA or the IIHS, but this is common for vehicles in this price bracket.
Not a lot of safety features are standard or even available as options, as this car is intended predominantly for the track. Standard driver aids are limited to front and rear parking cameras and parking sensors, as well as Pre-Safe collision preparation. Optional add-ons are minimal too, with adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring as the only available aids. The body also features built-in roll hoops and a reinforced windshield frame for more structural integrity in the event of a rollover. Should you bin it, there are at least eight airbags as standard, with dual-stage front airbags, driver and passenger knee airbags, side-impact airbags and curtain airbags.
If a capable GT car is what you want, the regular versions of this model will be more adept at comfortable cruising. Nevertheless, even those have tiny trunk areas and not much in the way of cabin storage. Rivals like the Porsche 911 Turbo S are also more user-friendly on a daily basis, but there are no glaring faults with the GT R either. For a top-down machine that can seriously haul ass around a track - even with the top down, there is little out there that can boast this car's aerodynamic ability. Gone are the days when a convertible version of a sports coupe was a heavily compromised and underwhelming watered-down version of the original - this GT R is a car that will stick it to hardcore, focused sports cars on the track and then still be capable of boulevard cruising in more than acceptable comfort. Coupled with the fact that there will only be 750 of these machines built and buying one can be justified as a smart investment for the enthusiast.
The base price of the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster starts at $189,750, before the $995 destination charge and other fees and taxes. Interestingly, a number of options are available at no charge, which makes customizing the GT R a less guilty pleasure than in some other AMG offerings. Splash out on some flashy paint, a multitude of carbon-fiber parts, and a few other add-ons like a premium Burmester sound system and the most you'll spend on the roadster is around $228,000.
There's no denying that the GT R is a good-looking thing, but considering its rarity and the price bracket it falls into, we can justify spending extra on the two carbon packages, adding $9,300 to the base price, as well as a few add-ons for more convenience. These would include blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assist for $875, and adaptive cruise control for $2,250. If you intend to take the GT R on track regularly too, as one ought to, the ceramic brake upgrade is worth a look at $8,950. Adding the touchpad controller costs nothing and makes navigating the infotainment system considerably more intuitive, so we'd opt for that too.
The 2019 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabrio is still on sale and is worth considering if you're keen on a fulfilling drop-top driving experience, but it's starting price is higher than that of the Merc, at $203,000. Despite less capacity at 3.8 liters, its twin-turbo flat-six develops the same amount of torque as the GT R, three horsepower more at 580, and returns better fuel economy. It too has a seven-speed automatic transmission, but unlike the rear-drive GT R, it sends its power to all four wheels. If you have little ones, it's a bit more practical too, with two small rear seats, and with its rear-engined layout, the small 'frunk' has some more space if you need it, although the difference in storage capacity over the GT R is minimal. However, it will never feel as special as the GT R, which has genuine supercar looks and rarity of numbers. For us, the drama and ability to stand out in a crowd, as well as the excitement of rear-wheel-drive and phenomenal aerodynamic technologies employed on the Merc make it a more compelling choice for us to spend nearly $200,000 on.
If it's the full-on drop-top supercar experience you want, the McLaren 600LT Spider is a magnificent choice with a bona fide exotic name to boot. No one will ever accuse you of owning a sports car made by manufacturers of vans if you're in one of these, and the Mac's 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 provides even more power at 592 hp. Its doors also add more flair and drama, opening skyward. However, this comes at quite a pretty penny. The 600LT Spider's base price is well north of $250,000, and its seats aren't what you'd call comfortable. For the same money, you can have a fully-loaded GT R with plenty of change to spare. For some, the McLaren badge may be too irresistible to ignore, while for others, the more GT-like approach of Merc's offering will be more appealing. The best way to decide will be to drive each option.
Check out some informative Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster video reviews below.