The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R

Every year at the Motor Press Guild’s Track Days event, there are a handful of cars that get the most attention. Cars such as the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, the Cadillac CTS-V and ATS-V and the Jaguar F-Type need sign-up sheets so journalists in attendance can schedule a time for their test drives.

Many of those signup sheets have gaps in the schedule during which the car can be cooled down a bit so someone doesn’t grenade a motor midway through the day.

I discovered this when I saw the Hellcat and the Challenger R/T Scat Pack just sitting in the paddock of Willow Springs International Raceway. The cars’ handlers explained the cool-down period to me, which made sense.

When I looked at the signup sheet for those waiting to drive the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, there was no cool-down period. In fact, I don’t think the car got shut down all afternoon. As soon as one journalist would bring it in from the maximum allowed three laps on track, another would jump in it and take it out again. This happened again and again all afternoon. When it was my turn to drive it, I was half-expecting the AMG GT to show signs of the abuse it had been taking all day long.

But the car felt as tight it would have right off the showroom floor, with no evidence of heat soak or overheated fluids. So, I headed out on track for what was to be my favorite drive of the day in what has become one of my favorite cars.

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R
The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R

Dear God, this car flies. Mercedes-Benz touts acceleration from zero to 62 mph (100 kph) at 3.8 seconds, and I have no reason to doubt it. There is plenty of throttle response everywhere on the tachometer, from just off idle to darn near its redline at 6,250 rpm. Credit that to the broad torque curve, which offers up 480 pound-feet of torque from 1,750 to 4,750 rpm.

The power output is astounding, and when the engine runs out of steam just tug on the right paddle on the steering wheel for a renewed explosion of harnessed energy with each upshift. Driving this car on a track is blissful, and I don’t usually get all that worked up about supercars. They’re no more fun than racing a Spec Miata, so why get all worked up over them? But the AMG GTS makes me want one. Badly.

As a gear head, I love the dry-sump 4.0-liter V8 in this car. As part of AMG’s one-man, one-engine philosophy, the engine is assembled by a single worker, who puts his signature on a plate atop the engine. It makes fantastic power and it sounds glorious. As a driver, I loved the seating position in the GTS. With lots of adjustments to the seat and wheel to find just the right position, anyone should be able to get comfortable in the GTS interior.

The interior itself is a work of art. The wheel is fitted with black nappa leather on all but the areas from 2 to 4 and 8 to 10 o’clock positions, where it’s wrapped with Dinamica microfiber, a material that looks and feels like suede or alcantara.

That same material is used throughout the cabin on the lower dash, A pillars, sunshades and headliner. The upper dash is topped with black leather and all the materials were sewn together with yellow stitching. Add to that carbon-fiber appliques on the dash and center console and you have one of the best places to spend some quality time.

The GTS interior is more roomy than the gullwing GT it replaces. The sloping rear flanks are aerodynamically superior and far better looking than the tail end of the gullwing car, which looked well, less thought out than the rest of the car.

In terms of handling, I couldn’t find anything to complain about. Turn-in is excellent and grip is prodigious, which is likely due in some measure to the 47/53 front/rear weight distribution, a product of having the engine mid-mounted up front and a transaxle in the rear. The car corners flatly and with authority, yet the ride isn’t overly jarring or harsh, even in track mode. You can switch to comfort mode when you drive home from the track.

Of course all of this comes at a supercar price. Base MSRP for the AMG GTS is $129,900, and you should be happy to pay every cent of it. Don’t haggle. Just pay the man. Here’s why.

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R
The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R

An Audi R8 starts at $162,900. A Porsche 911 R stickers for $184,900. A 911 Carrera S? $103,400. A 911 Turbo starts at $159,200. And don’t even get me started on Ferraris. The AMG GTS is as good or better than any of them — and the engine is in the right place. It costs less than all of them, and when you pull up to the valet stand, the AMG GTS’ presence is formidable. When you pull out on track, the car does everything you ask of it. All day long. It’s a ride worth waiting in line for. But if you own it, you won’t have to.

Specifications

Engine:

4.0-liter biturbo V8

Horsepower:

510 @ 6,250 rpm

Torque:

480 pound-feet @ 1,750 to 4,750 rpm

Front suspension:

SLA independent

Rear suspension:

SLA independent

Transmission:

7G DCT seven-speed automatic

Rear axle ratio:

3.67:1 limited slip

Curb Weight:

3,619 lbs.

Base MSRP:

$129,900
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Image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz