by Karl Furlong
The GT is quite simply one of AMG's finest moments. Like a child walking into an amusement park, this two-seater sports car seems to be simultaneously fighting for your attention in so many different ways. Will you first ogle at its dramatic, low-slung styling, or immediately grab the keys and enjoy the hair-raising thrills that come with taking that handcrafted bi-turbo V8 to its limits? It's enough to challenge the world's most extreme rollercoaster for sheer entertainment value. In the GT C, the power output is dialed up to 550 horsepower to send you to 60 mph in only 3.6 seconds. That it manages to engage through the bends (thanks largely to brilliant hydraulic steering) is yet another feather in its cap, with flaws being few and far between. Yes, a starting price of $115,900 is expensive, but it's as just about as much all-out driving theater as you'd get in an Audi R8, and that car starts at way over $150k. Fuel consumption is also heavy, but that's like criticizing an S-Class for not having enough off-road capability. Unsullied by the need to transport more than two passengers or to cosset on the highway, it's AMG at its most focused.
Mercedes-AMG has made a couple of updates to keep the GT fresh for 2020. The styling has been revised with redesigned LED headlights and taillights, along with fresh alloy wheel designs and the availability of designo Brilliant Blue Magno, a new exterior color choice. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is standard, along with a revised 10.25-inch infotainment display. The AMG steering wheel design is new, the infotainment system can be equipped with a touchpad interface, there is an AMG Track Pace virtual race engineer, and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard.
The base AMG GT Coupe carries an MSRP of $115,900, exclusive of tax, licensing, registration, and a destination charge of $995. This makes it the most affordable GT-badged Mercedes-AMG with a V8 engine under the hood. There is a fairly big jump in price to the AMG GT C Coupe, which will set you back $150,900. Although there are fewer options available to the GT than on other Mercedes models, a fully-loaded GT C can still surpass $170,000 quite easily.
See trim levels and configurations:
This isn't just a drag-strip tool. Mercedes-AMG spent a lot of time honing the GT's sport suspension to make sure that this rear-wheel-drive sports car doesn't fall apart when the road gets twisty. Initially, though, you have to adjust to the endlessly long hood and the front wheels being what feels like a mile in front of you, no surprise since you are just about seated over the GT's rear axle. Once you do acclimatize to its proportions, you'll appreciate the beautifully weighted hydraulic steering that is not only precise but actually feels connected to the wheels, transmitting useful feedback through the helm. Along with the GT's ability to stay remarkably flat through the twisties, it's an easy car to drive fast. The GT C is fitted with the AMG Ride Control sport suspension with three-stage adaptive damping along with active rear-wheel steering, further improving its agility and responsiveness over the base variant.
In Comfort mode, the GT C is just about comfortable enough for the daily commute, never cushy but compliant enough to not rattle your spine. It's not especially quiet, though. Sport stiffens up things appreciably, but Sport Plus is too uncomfortable for anything other than perfectly smooth surfaces. We'd say that the AMG Ride Control sport suspension is worth the $1,500 upgrade on the base model. Whichever model you choose, the high-performance braking system is up to the task of bringing the GT to a stop quickly and in a controlled manner.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
Other AMG-badged Mercedes models often have to fulfill multiple roles: the E63 must be wickedly quick and a refined executive sedan when called upon to do so, while a G63 must be jaw-droppingly rapid yet also able to venture off-road. The AMG GT is largely freed from these responsibilities and gets to focus solely on being an evocative, engaging, and focused sports car - and it's all the better for it. With a menacing V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, and truly communicative steering, it's an absolute joy to drive. And, while a six-figure car could never really be called a bargain, the base GT offers as much raw entertainment value as pricier competitors from Audi and Porsche, even if it isn't ultimately as quick. Although the ride can be quite harsh and space for cargo/personal belongings is limited, those are flaws that are common to some of the best sports cars in the world - they do nothing to dim the AMG GT's sky-high appeal.
While we're never averse to more power, we're of the opinion that the base GT offers plenty of performance at a much more reasonable price point. We'd spec ours in Selenite Grey Metallic paint with the fantastic 19/20-inch AMG forged cross-spoke wheels in black. The Red Pepper/Black Nappa leather adds a welcome pop of color to the cabin, and we'd also add the Burmester surround sound system and the AMG Ride Control Sport Suspension. Including destination, the total works out to $125,390, still about $25,000 cheaper than the GT C.
An interesting alternative to the AMG GT, the gorgeous LC 500 Coupe starts at $92,950, around $23,000 less expensive than the base GT. It's fitted with a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine that sings an addictive tune but which can't match the torque output of the bi-turbo Mercedes. At 4.4 seconds to 60 mph, the LC 500 is half a second off the pace of the base GT. Although tremendously capable through the corners, the LC 500 feels like a more luxurious GT than the AMG GT. The Lexus has a meticulously crafted cabin that feels even more special than the GT's, and the Japanese car also has rear seats (although they're mostly for show and even average-sized adults can't fit back there). It's the Mercedes that has the bigger trunk, with the LC 500 only offering 5.4 cubes of space. The AMG provides a more visceral driving experience, but the LC 500 enamors with its beautiful design and sumptuous cabin. Experiencing both in person will be essential to decide which one suits you better.
A comparison with the icon of sports coupes is inevitable. There's a lot more diversity within the 911 range, starting with the 911 Carrera for under $100,000 and stretching all the way to the new 911 Turbo for more than double that price. Sticking with a more price-appropriate option, the 911 Carrera S comes in at around $2,000 less than the base AMG GT and makes 443 hp from its twin-turbo six-cylinder engine - when equipped with the Sport Chrono Package, it'll outperform even the GT C, completing the 0-60 mph sprint in only 3.3 seconds. The Porsche is lighter, corners with more finesse, and is easier to live with on a daily basis - it also has something resembling rear seats, if you really need them. Some people will find the AMG too garish and the gently evolving 911 to be perfectly formed, while others will hanker after the more flamboyant AMG and find that the 911 hasn't changed enough. If you want the best car here, it's the Porsche 911. But it's the Mercedes' bravado that keeps it in close contention.
The most popular competitors of 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT: