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.
See trim levels and configurations:
Mercedes has refreshed the GT's styling for 2020 but it remains an absolute stunner. It retains the stretched hood and a greenhouse that is set well back, but gains revised LED headlights and taillights. The AMG-specific Panamericana grille has 15 vertical chrome bars and a giant interpretation of the three-pointed star, while at the back, there is a redesigned black diffuser. The GT gets 19-inch alloy wheels, while the GT C has 19/20-inch staggered alloy wheels. Also standard are heated side mirrors with a power-folding feature, while a panorama roof is available, as is a fixed rear spoiler.
The GT and GT C share a 103.5-inch wheelbase, along with a height of 50.7 inches. However, the GT C is wider (78.6 inches versus 76.3 inches, excluding the side mirrors - both are 81.7 inches wide including the mirrors) and marginally longer (179.7 inches versus 179.4 inches). This is no doubt due to the GT C's wider rear fenders and broader rear wheels. Both have a laden ground clearance of just 3.78 inches. The GT weighs in at 3,666 pounds and the GT C at 3,792 lbs.
The GT's color palette spans 12 shades, ranging from the typical monotones to some much richer blues and reds. Black and Jupiter Red won't cost you anything extra, but they're followed by four metallics that go for $720 each: Magnetite Black, Iridium Silver, Brilliant Blue, and Selenite Grey. The palette is topped by five designo shades: Cardinal Red Metallic ($1,080), Diamond White Metallic ($1,515), Selenite Grey Magno ($3,950), Iridium Silver Magno ($3,950) and, new for this year, Brilliant Blue Magno ($3,950). Exclusive to the GT C, AMG Solarbeam Yellow Metallic looks fantastic, but it's an eye-watering $9,900 option.
Both GTs are blessed with a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 engine, lovingly handcrafted by the engineers at AMG. In the GT, peak outputs are 469 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque, while the GT C raises these figures to 550 hp and 502 lb-ft. Both trims send power to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The GT will whizz from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds on its way to a maximum speed of 189 mph, but the GT C is even quicker, managing a 3.6-second benchmark sprint and only meeting its speed limiter at 196 mph. Both are viciously quick and emit a wonderful V8 roar, but they're not the fastest sports coupes around. For instance, even the base Porsche 911 Carrera is faster than the AMG GT, hitting 60 mph in 3.8 seconds when equipped with the Sport Chrono Package. Moving up to the 911 Carrera 4S (with its grippy all-wheel-drive system) drops the 0-60 time to 3.2 seconds when properly equipped.
AMG's decision to downsize its V8 a few years ago turned out to have been a well-measured one. The 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 is more efficient than previous AMG units, yet still generates a hearty 469 hp and 465 lb-ft in the GT, and an even stronger 550 hp and 502 lb-ft in the GT C. The "hot V" configuration of the engine reduces turbo lag as the turbos are placed a lot closer to the site of combustion. Both trims utilize a transaxle-mounted seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel.
To drive, the GT electrifies. The addictive exhaust note (punctuated by all kinds of pops in Sport Plus mode) and the accompanying thrust of power push you back into your seat violently. It's difficult to decipher the performance advantage of the GT C as both models are plenty fast enough and equal in terms of aural drama. The gearbox isn't a party pooper and flicks through its ratios quickly and responsively.
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.
According to the EPA, the base GT will return estimates of 16/22/18 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, while the GT C manages a slightly heavier 15/21/17 mpg. A 19.8-gallon gas tank is fitted, so expect the GT to travel for about 356 miles in a mix of city/highway driving before needing to visit the gas station. These are optimistic figures, however, and out in the real world, the allure of that bellowing V8 is often too good to ignore. Expect figures to plummet the moment the road ahead opens up.
Once you've managed to somewhat awkwardly drop down into the AMG GT's cabin, there are plenty of reminders that although this is an all-out sports car, it's still a Mercedes-Benz. As a result, it's made from top-notch materials, it looks the part, and there is technology aplenty. Both variants have sporty seats (MB-Tex and Dinamica microsuede in the GT, and Nappa leather in the GT C) with power adjustments. The driver-focused layout is appreciated, although some occupants will feel that the bulky center console intrudes a bit too much. For 2020, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster ships as standard, instantly modernizing the cabin. Overall, it's a snug and smartly trimmed interior although it does have some of the typical sports car practicality constraints.
Seating just two, the GT has a reasonably spacious interior, although it can't be described as airy. The headroom is good, all things considered, but lankier drivers might complain about the seat not moving back far enough. The seats prioritize supportiveness over armchair-like cushiness, but that makes sense in a car like this. Although power-adjustment is standard, the seats aren't as adjustable as they are in a regular Mercedes sedan. Ingress and egress are never going to be especially graceful in such a low sports car, and it's indeed the case with the GT. And, although forward visibility is good, seeing out of the back is made tricky by the tiny rear window and door mirrors that also aren't especially large.
It's maybe a bit cheeky of Mercedes to not offer genuine leather as standard in a six-figure car, but the MB-Tex upholstery (with Dinamica inserts) on the GT looks and feels high quality. By default, upholstery is black, but you can upgrade to Nappa leather (for $1,900) with additional color choices being Auburn Brown, Red Pepper/Black, and Silver Pearl/Black. AMG Silver Chrome trim is standard, but for $750 this can be replaced by AMG Black Piano Lacquer. Stainless Steel door sill trim is standard and upgrades include illuminated AMG door sills, silver or red seatbelts, and an AMG Dinamica/carbon fiber steering wheel for $900.
On the GT C, exclusive Nappa leather is standard in the same shades as the GT, as well as Platinum White/Black, Saddle Brown, Macchiato Beige/Black, and Silver Pearl/Black, with the latter three choices getting diamond stitching. Black exclusive Nappa leather with Dinamica stitching in yellow, silver, or red costs $1,200. AMG matte carbon fiber and AMG gloss carbon fiber are additional trim options exclusive to the GT C.
At 10.1 cubic feet, the GT's trunk isn't the smallest among its rivals, but neither is it the biggest. For instance, this is more space than in the Audi R8, but less than in the Jaguar F-Type Coupe. You can, however, just about squeeze two sets of golf clubs into the GT's trunk thanks to the large liftback design, although the hump from the transaxle means the space is awkward to use for larger items.
In the cabin, there are cupholders and door pockets, but the latter won't accommodate much more than keys and wallets. A small center console storage compartment helps, but that's about it in terms of small-item storage.
On the GT, dual-zone automatic climate control is standard and occupants are also treated to power-adjustable front seats with three-stage heating and a three-position memory system. Further inclusions are a HomeLink garage door opener, front and rearview cameras, Parktronic (with front and rear sensors), heated and power-folding side mirrors, adaptive high beam assist, attention assist, and the AMG Track Pace app for recording and storing performance data. The GT C gains seat ventilation along with keyless go, a power decklid release, blind spot assist, lane keeping assist, and AMG illuminated door sills. A panoramic roof is available as an added-cost option on the GT but standard on the GT C.
The GT's infotainment offering has taken a step up for 2020 thanks to a new 10.25-inch color center display. It's supplemented by a 12.3-inch digital instrument display ahead of the driver, bringing the GT in line with other premium Mercedes models. The COMAND interface can be controlled using the central rotary knob or via an optional touchpad controller (at no extra cost). Features that form part of the offering include navigation with 3D maps, three years of map updates, enhanced voice controls, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth audio streaming, twin USB ports, HD Radio, and SiriusXM with a six-month all-access trial. An SD card reader is included, too. The sound system is a basic, lightweight, four-speaker system, but owners who require something with more punch can equip their GT with a ten-speaker Burmester system (standard on the GT C). TuneIn Radio and in-car Wi-Fi are also optional. Exclusive to the GT C is an available 11-speaker Burmester 3D surround sound system.
The most recent recalls affecting the AMG GT occurred in 2018, for three separate issues. The first involved a seat belt that may bind, causing slack and increasing the risk of an injury in a crash. Another safety issue was for airbag inflator housing material failure - the release of sharp fragments could result in serious injury. Finally, improperly deployed airbags (due to incorrect software) can also increase the risk of injury in a crash.
Mercedes' basic warranty runs for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first, which also includes powertrain coverage.
Pricey sports cars are often precluded from being crash-tested and the AMG GT is no different. That said, Mercedes has one of the most revered reputations for safety, with models such as the E-Class being named a Top Safety Pick+ last year by the IIHS. Although the AMG GT carries no official rating, it's a reasonable assumption that Mercedes has built a safe car.
Despite being a two-seater, Mercedes has still crammed eight airbags into the cabin of the AMG GT for maximum occupant protection, including knee airbags for both the driver and passenger, along with side curtain airbags. An advanced three-stage stability program keeps things in check, along with an array of driver aids. These encompass active brake assist, attention assist, adaptive high-beam assist, front/rear parking sensors, front-/rearview cameras, the pre-safe accident preparation system, and adaptive braking. The GT C adds blind spot assist and lane keeping assist, features that are both available on the standard GT. Radar-based cruise control (Distronic) adjusts speed depending on the speed of the car you are following and can be equipped to both the GT and GT C.
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.
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.
Mercedes-AMG's evocative coupe is available in two flavors: the GT and the more powerful GT C. Both feature rear-wheel-drive, a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 engine. In the GT, peak outputs are 469 hp and 465 lb-ft, while the GT C produces 550 hp and 502 lb-ft. An AMG limited-slip differential, aluminum shift paddles, a race start function, and a performance exhaust all point to the AMG GT's focus as a bonafide sports car.
The GT gets 19-inch alloy wheels, the characteristic AMG grille with its vertical bars, quad exhaust outlets and front/rear parking sensors. Inside, the 12.3-inch digital instrument display is joined by a 10.25-inch central infotainment screen, the AMG Track Pace app, and color display buttons on the center console to create a suitably high-tech environment. Dual-zone automatic climate control, heated AMG performance seats in MB-Tex and Dinamica, and stainless steel door sill trim are fitted.
The GT C has staggered 19/20-inch alloy wheels and looks even meaner thanks to broader rear fenders. Dynamically, it gains active rear-wheel steering for improved responsiveness and agility. Additions to this trim include ventilated seats, keyless-go with a power decklid release, Nappa leather seats, and blind spot detection.
On the GT, the AMG Aerodynamics Package is available for $2,850 and adds a fixed rear spoiler together with a deeper front splitter, along with front air dam flics. The AMG Exterior Night Package adds gloss black exterior adornments for $750. The only other package is the Lane Tracking Package, bundling together blind spot assist and lane keeping assist for $875. Some interesting standalone options are AMG carbon fiber door sill trim ($1,200), ventilated seats ($450), the Burmester surround sound system ($1,300), and the recommended AMG Ride Control Sport Suspension ($1,500).
The GT C has fewer upgrades as it is better-equipped out of the box, but unique to this model is the AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber Package I at $5,300. The AMG Interior Night Package ($800) adds lots of deep gloss black to the cabin, while the Burmester high-end 3D sound system goes for $4,500. One of the most expensive add-ons is the AMG high-performance ceramic composite braking system at $8,950.
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.
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