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 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.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG GT R Coupe||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
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.
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.
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.
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