Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance car division lifts the veil on a spectacular luxury fastback concept car at the Geneva auto show, confirming it provides a clear preview of an 800-hp plus gasoline-electric hybrid production model planned for North American sale in 2019.
Called the GT Concept, the uniquely styled 4-seater is conceived to complement the automaker’s existing 2-seat GT sports car in what Tobias Moers, AMG chairman, says will be an expanded range of dedicated AMG models to come.
“With the GT Concept we are giving a preview of our third completely autonomously developed sports car, extending the AMG family to include a 4-door variant,” Moers says.
The low-slung GT Concept, whose unveiling forms part of AMG’s 50th anniversary celebration, introduces a new design language but also draws styling cues from AMG’s 2-year-old GT sports car, most notably its Panamericana grille and thin, horizontally positioned LED taillamps.
But while the GT sits on its own unique aluminum platform, the production version of the GT Concept is conceived as a modified version of Mercedes’ MRA architecture that underpins the latest C- and E-Class models and will be the base for the next CLS and a new S-Class due in 2020.
At the heart of the fastback concept is a new EQ Power gasoline-electric hybrid driveline developed in partnership with the German automaker’s High Performance Production division located in Brixworth.
The hybrid combines AMG’s twin-turbocharged 4.0L V-8 with an electric motor to deliver a combined system output Moers puts at “up to 600 kW.” This equates to 805 hp, topping the output of AMG’s most powerful existing model, the GT R, by 228 hp.
AMG says the GT Concept’s electric motor is networked with a combination of extremely light batteries that deliver “an impressive electric range” together with a claimed 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of “under 3.0 seconds.”
The operating strategy of the new gasoline-electric powerplant has been derived from the hybrid unit used by the Mercedes-Benz F1 team, with the battery charged while the car is being driven, both through brake-energy recuperation and the aid of the combustion engine.
The production version will be offered exclusively with a version of AMG’s 4Matic+ 4-wheel-drive offering torque vectoring on each wheel together with an integrated drift-mode function. Power from the electric motor provides direct drive to the rear wheels, serving as primary power in electric mode and as a booster to the combustion engine.
The new Mercedes model, which goes under the internal codename X290 but is referred to by AMG insiders as the GT4, indirectly replaces the CLS Shooting Brake, which officials confirm will be discontinued when the third-generation CLS is revealed later this year.
Among the key rivals for the new AMG model are the new second-generation Audi A7, BMW 6-Series GranCoupe and Porsche Panamera.
The new family-friendly AMG performance model, which stretches to almost 197 ins. (5,004 mm) in length, arrives in showrooms about a year after the automaker’s range-topping hybrid-powered hypercar. The F1-inspired model is expected to produce more than 1,000 hp.
Stylistically, the GT concept treads new ground for Mercedes, both in proportion and detail. Created under the guidance of design boss Gorden Wagener, it adopts the relaxed surfacing treatment already adopted by the latest E-Class coupe, eschewing the heavily structured look that has characterized the automaker’s production models in recent years.
“The GT Concept embodies the most extreme expression of our design idiom, and underlines the autonomous profile of AMG as a performance brand,” Wagener says.
The GT Concept’s distinctive silhouette is dominated by a sweeping clamshell hood set low and extending well behind the prominent front wheel housings. Key design elements include a sharply raked windshield, heavily curved roofline, plunging rear window and a short rear deck that forms part of the new car’s fastback tailgate.
The 6-corner Panamericana grille, with vertical slats overlaid on top of a newly designed insert, is angled forward to give the nose an outwardly aggressive shark appearance. Underneath the grille is a version of AMG’s A-frame bumper graphic complete with an integral central splitter element and three large cooling ducts featuring electronically controlled shutters.
The trapezoidal headlamps, imbued with new nanofiber technology that provides 3-dimensional illumination, reflect a design theme Wagener refers to as the “predator face.” It will appear on the next generation of Mercedes models.
Farther back, the GT Concept features four frameless doors, a fixed B-pillar and a panoramic glass roof. The side window graphic picks up on the theme already seen on more-recent Mercedes coupes. Haunches over the rear wheel houses also endow the new AMG model with a dose of visual muscle.
Practicality concerns have been addressed by lengthy rear doors, whose apertures run well back over the sizable rear wheels to aid entry. The GT Concept also features a large fastback style tailgate similar in style to that gracing the GT sports car, providing uninterrupted access to a deep trunk.
The rear is dominated by a pair of thin, horizontally positioned taillamps and a large, centrally mounted brushed-aluminum tailpipe set within a multi-channel diffuser element within the rear bumper.