by Jared Rosenholtz
Even within Mercedes-AMG's diverse portfolio, the GT coupe stands out as an especially focused performance machine with the power and engaging dynamics to match some of the world's top sports cars. The GT R is the most powerful expression of the GT and, along with its carbon-fiber bodywork and extreme styling, is possibly the most emotive car to wear the three-pointed star. Power comes from a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 with 577 horsepower, allowing the rear-wheel-drive GT R to conquer the 0-60 mph run in only 3.5 seconds. Even these numbers don't convey what an epic drive the GT R is, with its well-weighed steering, excellent feel and great agility. Porsche's 911 is perhaps the AMG GT's most accomplished competitor - and maybe it's not much of a coincidence that the track-focused GT3 and GT R share such similar badges. Both are brilliant, the GT3 having the ultimate edge for composure at the limit, but the GT R's epic V8 and sensuous design making it an easy car to love instantly. This is Mercedes showing us that its expertise runs far beyond luxury cruisers - the GT R is a beast.
Although Mercedes has made a few specification updates to the less powerful GT C Coupe (reviewed separately) and added an all-new four-door version of the GT, the GT R continues into 2019 unchanged.
The GT R looks even more extreme than lesser GT models, trading some elegance for outright aggression. There's no mistaking the silhouette, though, with an especially long hood and a massive, manually adjustable rear wing immediately noticeable. The GT R also has AMG-forged ten-spoke wheels with extreme-performance tires (19 inches in front and 20 inches at the rear). A carbon-fiber roof panel helps to lower the GT R's center of gravity, and AMG carbon composite brakes are fitted. Along with an AMG-specific Panamericana grille with 15 vertical chrome bars, some outrageous color options, LED headlamps, wide aluminum rear fenders, and large outer vents, the AMG GT R turns heads like few other cars on the road.
Like other AMG GT coupes, the R has the same dimensions. Length is 179.7 inches, height is 50.6 inches, and width including the mirrors is 81.7 inches (79 inches without the mirrors). The wheelbase is 103.5 inches long. What these numbers don't tell you is just how long the hood is, which takes some time to adapt to. By comparison, a Porsche 911 GT3 is narrower and lower but slightly longer. There's a bigger variance in weight: despite the Mercedes' weight-saving measures like carbon-fiber body bracing, it's still 441 pounds heavier than a PDK-equipped 911 GT3. The AMG GT R tips the scales at 3,594 lbs, making it 154 lbs lighter than the GT C coupe.
The GT R's color palette extends to 12 shades, with stealthy blacks and grays on the one side and some eye-popping options on the other. Standard colors are Black and Jupiter Red, while extra-cost metallic shades are Brilliant Blue, Iridium Silver, Magnetite Black, and Selenite Grey. After that is the designo range of metallic shades which will cost up to $3,950 extra depending on which one you go for. They're Cardinal Red, Diamond White, Iridium Silver, and Selenite Grey. At a whopping $9,900, AMG Solarbeam Yellow and GT R-exclusive Green Hell Magno can be specified - these wild shades somehow suit the GT R's personality.
Although not the fastest Mercedes to wear the AMG badge (at least in a straight line), the rear-wheel-drive GT R is the fastest GT, hitting 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and going on to a claimed top speed of 198 mph. While this is only a tenth of a second quicker than the GT C, it's all about micro gains when you're talking about this spectrum of performance. Peak power outputs are 577 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, a modest 4.9 percent increase in power over the GT C. Like the AMG GT R, the Porsche 911 GT3 is rear-wheel-drive but will get to 60 mph just a tad faster (3.4 seconds) when equipped with the PDK transmission. The AMG GT R's performance gains are best seen in its track times, where it was tested completing a 7:10.92 time around the Nürburgring, faster than the 911 GT3 and a 911 Turbo S, but just short of a Nissan GT-R Nismo. Whichever way you look at it, the GT R is a seriously capable track tool and firmly positions Mercedes-AMG alongside extreme competition from Lamborghini, Porsche, and Ferrari.
At the heart of the front-mid-engine GT R is a handcrafted AMG bi-turbo V8 displacing 4.0 liters. The engine produces 577 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque and is paired with an AMG Speedshift seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with shift paddles. The improved outputs are thanks to tweaks like uprated turbochargers with modified compressor machining, enhanced engine mapping, and a retuned combustion process.
A bit of lag aside at more modest speeds, flooring the throttle initiates explosive performance from a standing start and once on the move. The V8 snarl is a constant companion as the scenery whizzes by at a startling rate. Throttle response is brilliant and, when combined with the transmission's ultra-fast shifts in the sportier driving modes, it all adds up to a truly memorable and effective powertrain. While the shift paddles are there, the transmission is so adept at selecting the right gear at the right time that you don't really need them.
This is a track-honed sports car, so any notions of typical Mercedes smoothness and refinement should be left locked up in the garage alongside the S-Class. There's incredible grip on offer from the huge tires and the GT R gets a nine-level AMG traction control system to suit every possible driving condition. The GT R shares a standard adaptive suspension with the rest of the GT range but also gets manually adjustable coil-over springs.
It all comes together on the track, where the GT R superbly contains any hint of body roll or dive, with the hydraulic steering rack being both direct and communicative. With a great synergy between the throttle and steering, the GT R is quite an easy car to drive fast, even for drivers of average ability.
Of course, not every weekend will be spent on a track, so it's good to know that the GT R also feels thoroughly planted and secure on a high-speed cruise. It's far from quiet, but you also expect that in a car such as this. And while it doesn't smother imperfections like other Mercs, there's still enough compliance in Comfort mode to make this a sports car that you can live with. The huge brakes are as powerful as you'd expect, and you can shell out for carbon-ceramic items for the ultimate in fade-free braking on the track.
Fuel-efficiency is a secondary concern for the average buyer of the AMG GT R, which is just as well since EPA-rated estimates work out to 15/20/17 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. On a 19.8-gallon tankful of premium unleaded gasoline, the GT R will return a combined cruising range of around 336 miles. Don't expect to see those numbers if you use the V8 to its full potential, though.
The stylish and sporty GT R's interior is set up for serious driving, with all relevant controls placed within easy reach. There is a super sporty and low-down driving position on offer, with a supportive seat and sufficient steering-wheel adjustment. There's not a lot of space in the GT's cabin, though, so taller or broader drivers may feel cramped. Both occupants will enjoy the GT R's high-quality interior appointments, with Nappa/Dinamica leather upholstery and metallic accents being suitably premium for something sporting the three-pointed star on its nose. AMG performance seats with power-adjustable side bolsters, dual-zone climate control, and plenty of onboard technology sweeten the deal.
The GT R seats just two people - rear seats would simply be an affront to this AMG's performance goals. The seats are smartly upholstered in a combination of Nappa leather and Dinamica and have integrated headrests. Space is at a premium, partially due to a seriously bulky center console - six-footers will fit, but they'll always feel on the snug side in there, and there isn't really any comfortable space to rest your elbows. For average-sized adults, legroom and headroom are both fine and the driving position can be tailored to suit your preferences, although taller drivers may wish that the seat could slide further back. The low-slung GT means that ingress and egress require some effort. Visibility is a mixed bag, being perfectly fine when looking forward but obscured to the rear because of tiny mirrors and a rear window that isn't big enough, either.
Far from a stripped-down racer, the AMG GT R's interior is meticulously crafted from expensive-feeling materials. On the R, that means standard Nappa leather seats with soft Dinamica microsuede inserts, AMG Black Piano Lacquer trim, and an AMG Dinamica performance steering wheel that is a joy to hold.
While only black seats are available, you can choose between yellow or silver stitching, while Exclusive Nappa leather upholstery is an option. Carbon-fiber can replace the Piano Lacquer trim for an even sportier look and feel. Overall, though, the GT R's cabin is what you'd expect of a sports car of this price.
The GT R's trunk has 10.1 cubic feet of available space, which isn't terrible considering what it is. Mercedes says that this is enough room to accommodate two full-size golf bags, with the only issue being the hump in the trunk caused by the transaxle gearbox. Small-item storage is nothing to write home about, with the usual cup holders, door pockets, and glovebox, but not much else.
In the interests of ultimate performance, the GT R actually has fewer features than lesser AMG GTs, although many of these remain options. For instance, heated power-folding mirrors and a lane-tracking package are standard on the cheaper GT C, but optional on the GT R. You do still get automatic dual-zone climate control, power seats with three-position memory, heated seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, a rearview camera, a power decklid release, push-button start and rain-sensing windshield wipers. An integrated garage-door opener, keyless-go, and power-folding mirrors with logo projectors are among the available options.
The GT R makes use of Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system with an 8.4-inch high-resolution color central screen. Functions are controlled using a touchpad/rotary controller. Standard features encompass navigation with three years of free map updates, SiriusXM with five years of traffic/weather updates, and voice control. A lightweight four-speaker audio system is fitted to the GT R, but a Burmester premium surround sound system is available. You also get Bluetooth audio streaming, a hands-free Bluetooth interface, dual USB ports, an SD card reader, an in-dash DVD/CD player, SiriusXM radio with a six-month all-access trial, an HD radio receiver, and the AMG Track Pace App for an Apple iPhone - this app makes it possible to store, study, and share your performance driving data. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available as the GT hasn't yet benefitted from Mercedes' latest infotainment tech.
The AMG GT R hasn't been rated by J.D. Power as yet, and no recalls are on record from the NHTSA for 2019. There was, however, one recall for the GT R in 2018 for a seat belt that may bind, causing slack in the belt itself - this could increase the chance of injury in the event of an accident.
The AMG GT R is covered by the brand's four-year/50,000-mile warranty and the same duration/mileage coverage for the powertrain. Roadside assistance and corrosion are for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.
As with many low-volume, high-priced performance cars, the AMG GT has not been evaluated by the IIHS or the NHTSA, but Mercedes has a brilliant reputation for building safe cars, and the same should hold true when it comes to the GT's crash structure.
The AMG GT R is decidedly light on active safety features. Standard features include eight airbags, a three-stage electronic stability program, traction control, tire-pressure monitoring, LED headlamps and daytime running lamps, a rearview camera, Parktronic, and adaptive braking technology. While there is attention assist and collision prevention, you will have to pay extra for blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist. Mercedes-Benz has one of the longest lists of optional driver aids for its other models, but most of these can't be specified on the GT.
If what you are after is the most focused, track-tuned, Mercedes-AMG you can get, you'll battle to do better than the epic GT R. Considerable engineering prowess has gone into making this coupe one that is a legitimate track toy, and the GT R's performance speaks to this. The brash exterior is hard to miss and the bi-turbo V8 hard to silence, while active rear-wheel steering and a nine-mode AMG traction control system endow the GT R with engaging and sharp driving dynamics. There's also a usable trunk and a well-built cabin that feels like it has been built to withstand the extreme conditions that this car will likely be subjected to. At $159,350, it doesn't come cheap and for over $20,000 less, the AMG GT S looks tempting. But the GT R's massaged mechanicals and lighter weight are what's needed to match up to the likes of the Porsche 911 GT3, and in that regard, its high price starts to make a bit more sense. This is one wild Mercedes and we love it.
The GT R stands alone on top of the AMG GT range and carries an MSRP of $159,350, excluding tax, licensing, registration, and a destination charge of $995. One notch below the GT R is the GT C at $147,300.
There's just one GT R to choose from. Power comes from a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 with 577 hp and 516 lb-ft. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard, while the GT R exclusively gets manually-adjustable coil-over springs, nine-mode AMG traction control, a lightweight titanium/steel AMG performance exhaust system, and a manually-adjustable rear wing spoiler.
The beefed-up bodywork features the distinctive AMG chrome-slatted grille, AMG forged wheels (19-inches in front and 20-inches at the back), and a power decklid release. AMG sports seats highlight a snug, rear-set cabin - they're upholstered in a mix of Nappa leather and Dinamica. Dual-zone automatic climate control, a lightweight four-speaker audio system, an 8.4-inch central color screen, and heated seats are among the standard features. Collision prevention assist, attention assist, and eight airbags are a few of the safety features keeping driver and passenger safe in the unfortunate event of a crash.
|AMG GT R Coupe||
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
Mercedes seems to half begrudgingly offer a few additional packages for the AMG GT R, even though every aspect of this high-performance coupe has been designed around ultimate weight-saving and aerodynamics. If you still value luxury and convenience, you could opt for the $1,600 Convenience Package with features like foldable mirrors, a garage door opener, and keyless-go. The $875 Lane Tracking Package adds blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist to the list of driver aids. The Exclusive Interior Package adds extended Nappa leather, extended ambient cabin lighting, and a black Dinamica headliner for $3,600.
More in keeping with the GT R's sporting intent is the AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber Package I. Among its add-ons are a carbon-fiber front air-dam splitter and side sill inserts, plus some gloss black trim. It goes for an eye-watering $5,250. A little cheaper is the AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber Package II at $4,000 with carbon-fiber side mirror housings and a carbon-fiber rear wing.
Several standalone options are available: take your pick from a $1,300 Burmester surround sound system, active distance assist Distronic at $2,250, or AMG carbon-ceramic brakes at $8,950.
This is a no-compromise, track-bred performance coupe. If you're shopping at this price point, there's little point in holding back when it comes to the options list. However, we'd stick with the options that don't add unnecessary weight and add even more venom to the GT R's looks.
The first add-on may make your stomach turn, but we'd go for one of the - wait for it - $9,900 metallic colors: Solarbeam Yellow or Green Hell Magno, the latter being unique to the GT R. They're impossible to miss, like everything else on this car. We'd also add the AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber Package I for $5,250. All other extras tend to detract from what this car is all about, but you may also want to go for the $8,950 AMG carbon-ceramic braking system if you'll actually be spending lots of time on the track.
GT R vs GT-R. They may share those three letters, but the Mercedes-AMG GT and Nissan's iconic sports coupe are quite divergent beasts. We'll get the numbers out of the way first: the Nissan's 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 puts out 565 hp and 467 lb-ft of torque and the Mercedes manages 577 hp and 516 lb-ft from its 4.0-liter V8. Thanks to all-wheel-drive, the Nissan is faster to 60 mph, getting there in three seconds - half a second quicker than the AMG, which is significant at this level. On the road, the Nissan is less threatening to drive fast quickly. It rides more comfortably and also has the benefit of (tiny) rear seats, and doesn't feel as hilariously wide as the AMG. Both are preposterously fast, but the Mercedes' V8 is the more manic power plant. Both are wicked on track, but here the AMG GT R squeezes out an advantage with its lighter weight. There's also a vast difference in build quality - the Mercedes has the much more modern, better built, and advanced interior. At $128,540 for the priciest, Track Edition of the Nissan GT-R, you're still looking at a cost-saving of over $30,000 relative to the AMG. Both are superb coupes: the Nissan is faster and more livable, but the AMG is angrier and feels like the more premium product.
The GT3 RS is one of only a few cars to have whizzed around the Nurburgring Nordschleife in under seven minutes, and this from a naturally-aspirated coupe. The GT3's 4.0-liter flat-six pumps out 520 horsepower and, like the AMG GT R, sends its power to the rear wheels. As a precision driving tool, the GT3 RS outclasses even the Mercedes - there's telepathic responsiveness from its steering system and the GT3 is as agile as it gets, the experience made all the more riveting as you rev out that flat-six to 9,000 rpm. The Mercedes-AMG GT R is AMG at its finest, but it isn't the apex-carving superpower that is the RS. The AMG does have an undeniable sense of theatre, however, from its outlandish looks to the V8's soundtrack. Good luck deciding which of these two German juggernauts gets a prime space in your garage.