The Porsche Panamera's most serious threat to date.
Exactly one year after it was previewed at Geneva with the AMG GT Concept, the production-spec Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door has arrived, and it’s ready to start some trouble for the Porsche Panamera. Actually, Mercedes-AMG unveiled three tasty flavors of the mighty performance sedan, the AMG GT53, AMG GT63, and AMG GT63 S. Because of that AMG pedigree, those looking for a more traditional luxury German sedan will need to look elsewhere because the AMG GT 4-Door, in all versions, is not that car. Thank goodness.
So let’s get right to it. The AMG GT 4-Door Coupe is a pure AMG-muscle machine designed and engineered to provide one of the most thrilling rides on and off track you’ll ever experience in a sedan. It’s a German-built hot rod. All three feature the 4Matic all-wheel drive system. Rear-wheel drive, at least for now, is not an option. The so-called “base” engine found in the AMG GT 53 is an all-new turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that, when combined with an electric supercharger, produces 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. Yes, the base model. It also features a mild-hybrid system called “EQ Boost” that contributes 21 hp and 184 lb-ft to that total output.
Thanks to a torque converter nine-speed automatic transmission, the AMG GT 53 makes the sprint from 0-60 mph in only 4.4 seconds and has a top speed of 174 mph. What’s interesting about the EQ Boost is that it combines a starter motor and alternator into a single electric motor positioned in between the engine and transmission. The additional juice is sent not only to the engine, but also to the 48 V on-board electrical system where it supplies power for the lights, cockpit, infotainment displays and control units. That new nine-speed automatic is also an impressive development. Because it’s a wet clutch, it reduces weight and inertia and optimizes response.
Thanks to advanced software, extremely short shift times are achieved as well as fast multiple downshifts. A Race Start function is there to ensure ideal acceleration. But say the AMG GT 53 just isn’t enough and you need a V8 engine in your life, what to do? Have no worries, because that’s what the AMG GT 63 and AMG GT 63 S are for – and they’re both hell raisers. Starting with the former, you’ll gain the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, the very same engine used throughout the AMG lineup, including the AMG GT coupe and convertible. Here it cranks out 577 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. AMG claims a 0-60 mph time of 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 195 mph.
The AMG GT 63 S is also powered by that bi-turbo V8, only output has been increased to 630 hp and 664 lb-ft of twist. That sprint time has been reduced to 3.1 seconds, while the same wet clutch nine-speed automatic found in the AMG GT 53 is used in both its more powerful siblings as well. But the AMG GT 63 S has something standard that’s optional in the AMG GT 63: Drift Mode. What does it do? Essentially, it makes you and your passengers go sideways. Mercedes says Drift Mode can be activated in the ‘Race’ drive program using the shift paddles. You also need to make sure the electronic stability program (ESP) is deactivated and the transmission is in manual mode.
Once the transfer case has been deactivated the vehicle is in rear-wheel drive, thus making it ideal for drifts and everything else you get from the immense benefits of rear-wheel drive. When it comes to handling, AMG opted for active rear-wheel steering, standard in both V8 models and optional in the inline-six. This system facilitates an ideal combination of agility and stability and also reinforces safety. Basically, at speeds up to 62 mph, the rear wheels point in the opposite direction to the front wheels thanks to two electric actuator motors. This results in the big sedan turning corners with higher agility and, in typical daily driving conditions, a smaller turning circle.
Once you go above 62, the systems turns the rear wheels in the same direction as the fronts. Not only is driving stability improved, but also the lateral force on the rear wheels builds up much faster on changes of direction, which in turn improves steering response. There’s also more rear-axle grip and high stability when changing direction quickly. An AMG-developed rack-and-pinion steering offers drivers precise feedback. Though it’s an electromechanical system as opposed to the old school hydraulic systems, AMG promises an engaging and responsive driving experience, further augmented with six distinct driving modes: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+, Race and Individual.
All modes are chosen via the gearshift paddle in the center console. There’s also a new driving program called AMG Dynamics, which can be adjusted by drivers to match the car’s handling to different demands and street conditions. Essentially, you can opt for a more “safe” driving personality, or something more extreme thanks to agility functions called Basic, Advanced, Pro and Master. With all of this talk of how it drives, what’s the new AMG GT 4-Door Coupe like on the inside? Put it this way: no one will be disappointed. The entire dashboard has a beautiful sculpted look and feel. There’s a real flowing style to it all, especially as the instrument panel merges into the front doors. Sort of a wrap-around effect is created.
The air vents have a gorgeous turbine-look and all materials are of the highest quality. Luscious leather upholstery and trim, plenty of real wood and/or brushed aluminum is found everywhere. Mercedes describes the cockpit as “ultra-modern,” evidenced by two high-resolution 12.3-inch displays, though this is optional on the GT53. The displays are all-digital and owners can choose three different styles according to their personal tastes. There’s also a new performance steering wheel that provides maximum functionality, incorporating touch control buttons where the driver is able to control the infotainment system using only finger swipes.
The rear seat can be had as either a folding bench unit or as a pair of individual seats, for a total seating for five or four passengers, respectively. Exterior styling is remarkably similar to the last year’s AMG GT Concept, though it’s been toned down. Slightly. Regardless of which variant you opt for, that aggressive four-door coupe styling is the very definition of eye candy. It’s equally stunning and supercar-like exotic. The front grille wears that three-pointed Silver Star well, adorned by LED headlights at each side. Notice the exceptional large front air vents as well. The simple yet sumptuous lines stretch towards the rear where a two-pipe exhaust system with trapezoidal tailpipe trims is integrated into the rear bumper.
Beneath is a diffuser and above is a retractable rear wing. Standard 19-inch light-alloy wheels come with the AMG GT 53 and 63 while the 63 S wears standard 20-inchers, although customers can opt for 21-inch alloys as well. Pricing has yet to be announced but Mercedes says all AMG GT 4-Door variants will go on sale in 2019. The Porsche Panamera has found its most formidable competitor to date.