by Roger Biermann
The gullwing SLS AMG is gone, and in its place the Mercedes-AMG GT has arrived to take on the sports car world. The Mercedes-AMG GT and GT C Roadster twins replaces the fixed hard top roof with a retractable soft top though, giving the AMG GT the open-top treatment that many had sworn would never be given to the GT in lieu of the SL-Class being in existence. The GT and GT C Roadster are among the first AMG models to feature the new vertical Panamericana grille, with active aerodynamic louvers, hiding behind it the latest bi-turbo AMG V8 powerhouse in two outputs.
The AMG GT and GT C Roadsters are filled with elements alluding to performance – a functional interior more so than stylish. The broad center stack features eight round buttons in a hint to the number of cylinders beneath the lengthy hood. But that broad center stack occupies a lot of space, and accommodation for two people is snug at best. The center console sits high and impedes what little space there is to place your elbows. The seats are supportive and offer plenty bolstering, but they have limited adjustment, and broader occupants won't feel comfortable, particularly when trying to climb in – which is a task best suited to those with some sense of athleticism. The broad windscreen and narrow A-pillars ensure forward visibility is exceptional, and with the soft-top roof down, rear visibility is decent too – though the reverse camera still comes in handy.
The long hood on the AMG GT Roadster serves a purpose – it allows the engine to be mounted behind the front axle to centralize weight in the car and lower the center of gravity. With the bulk of the weight between the axles, the chassis is incredibly well balanced, allowing exploitation of the power on hand. There's a fine balance, and whether you're a master driver or fairly amateur, the GT Roadster feels approachable. Levels of grip are impressive too, though the ride quality is lacking – broad rear tires and sports car suspension leading to large bumps being felt intensively in the cabin. But on the flip side, under cornering the GT Roadster is incredibly composed. The steering is hydraulically assisted in a world of electrification, and the GT Roadster is better off for it – it's weighty and drips with feedback in a way electrically assisted systems haven't been able to do so yet.
Mercedes-AMG are known for their philosophy of sharing one engine across all vehicles. In this case, it's the 'hot-in-the-vee' 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 under the hood – the same as found in the AMG C63 and E63. Power outputs in the GT model are 469 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque, directed exclusively to the rear wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle gearbox. Despite the extra weight of the retractable roof, the 0-60mph sprint is an admirable 3.9 seconds, with on the go acceleration equally impressive thanks to the handcrafted V8's completely lag-free responses.
As the base specification variant, the AMG GT Roadster is still decently equipped, with 19-inch alloys as standard, an 8.4-inch infotainment display, navigation, 4 speakers, dual zone climate control, 8-way power adjustable heated seats, park sensors, and a rear-view camera. Neck-level heating is also standard for all-season top down enjoyment. A range of optional packages exist for anything from visual upgrades to the Lane Tracking Package, which includes lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring in addition to standard safety courtesy of rollover hoops, ABS brakes, and electronic stability control.
With the addition of a convertible to the range, the AMG GT Roadster questions the need for an SL-Class and puts its future in doubt. Astonishing performance meets exceptional handling and a characterful V8 that blurs the line between bona fide supercar and luxurious grand tourer.