Tested: 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S | Shaun Keenan
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S | Shaun Keenan

AMG! Better When Wet?

I’ve driven many AMGs the past few years, but none have gotten me as excited as the new 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT. Even the bodacious SLS AMG – now officially my second favourite AMG – no longer has the same appeal.

With a $149,900 entry ticket, the uprated GT S coupe is a stout performer right o the lot. A 503-horsepower 4.0-litre twin-turbo AMG V8, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic drivetrain and lightweight aluminum spaceframe help it scurry from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds, en route to an electronically-limited max speed of 310 km/h. The base GT model gets a 456-horsepower version of this engine that’s good for four-second 0-100s.

At 1,645 kilograms, the GT S is 50 kilograms lighter than the SLS AMG Final Edition. And despite the latter’s power advantage – 583 hp and 479 lb-ft from a naturally-aspirated 6.2L V8 – its 0-100 km/h time is only marginally quicker (3.7 seconds).

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S | Shaun Keenan
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S | Shaun Keenan

Although it’s not considered a new or updated version of the more exotic SLS, the GT S can be considered its spiritual successor. Both are two-seaters with a front-mid engine/rear-wheel-drive layout, but the GT S is 92- and 500-mm shorter in length and wheelbase than the SLS, respectively. Overall width is identical, but since the GT S has shed the gullwing doors, its centre of gravity is actually lower than the quarter-million dollar SLS AMG coupe.

The SLS is hard to ignore thanks to its exotic look and feel, monstrous performance and intimidating presence, but its aircraft carrier front end and pinched rear end makes it a bit of a handful on the track, and somewhat boat-like in everyday traffic. The GT S is neither.

If I were to compare them to MMA fighters, the former is akin to Kimbo Slice while the GT S is a veritable Jean Claude Van Damme. On a good day, Slice can knock you into next year with one big, fat punch, but Van Damme will take you to school anytime, anywhere, and come out on top nine times out of 10.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S | Shaun Keenan
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S | Shaun Keenan

Driving dynamics is what really sets the GT S apart from the SLS, so it is extremely unfortunate our track day was accompanied by unrelenting cold, spring showers. The track never had a chance to dry out, and the tires never really had a chance to get up to temp either. It’s probably a good thing none of the mules wore the $13,750 optional carbon ceramic stoppers as they never would have gotten hot enough to be effective either.

The standard AMG brake kit – vented, slotted and perforated compound discs measuring 390 mm in the front with six-piston calipers, and 360 mm diameter discs with single-piston rear calipers – didn’t get a thorough thrashing on this day either, but is more than adequate for the street and light track use.

The Pirelli tires were up to the sloppy wet task and, although the speeds on a cold, wet Grand Prix road course are remarkably slower than when warm and dry, they provide enough traction to get a decent impression of this car’s performance.

Running with the drivetrain set to sport and shocks set to comfort helped smoothen the transition from corner 5B to 5C – the slowest and most slippery part of the track – before gingerly getting on the throttle for the long back straight.

Continue reading my first drive review of the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S on the IGNITION LUXURY & PERFORMANCE website!

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S | Shaun Keenan
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S | Shaun Keenan
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S | Shaun Keenan
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S | Shaun Keenan