German Luxury and Muscle Can Co-Exist

With a 4.0L bi-turbo V-8 packing 503 hp, the Mercedes AMG GT S is a 2-seat coupe on a mission to impress with sharp looks, an intoxicating exhaust note and a back end that breaks free with some regularity.

October 26, 2015

4 Min Read
Mercedes AMG GT S may look front heavy but 53 of curb weight rests on rear axle
Mercedes AMG GT S may look front heavy, but 53% of curb weight rests on rear axle.

What do you get when you cross a Porsche 911 Turbo with a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray? The kneejerk response might be the Jaguar F-Type R because of its lithe chassis, big power and lively exhaust bark.

Perhaps more correct is the ’16 Mercedes AMG GT S, a 2-seat long-hooded stunner that conjures the best attributes of the gull-winged SLS AMG Coupe, which ended a 4-year production run in 2014. Of course, the GT S has two conventional forward-hinged doors, but the dimensions, packaging and design show the evolution from the pricier SLS.

The Stingray fits into the comparisons because the AMG GT S looks, feels and sounds like Germany’s best efforts to launch an American-style muscle car, right down to the high-rpm howl, the gentle shake and burble at idle and the delicious gasp of backpressure during downshifts as a corner approaches.

Power comes from a 4.0L twin-turbo V-8 under the hood, rated at 503 hp and 479 lb.-ft. (649 Nm) of torque and channeled to the rear wheels.

Some 53% of the 3,627-lb. (1,645-kg) curb weight rests on the rear axle. Perhaps the back end could use a bit more heft, to improve adhesion when accelerating out of turns. Even under light throttle, the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 treads struggle for stickiness.

Still, Mercedes says the GT S can sprint to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.7 seconds, which trails the smaller and slightly lighter 911 Turbo by a full 0.5 second.

WardsAuto editors just finished a rollicking week with the GT S, and we come away grateful for an economy that makes it OK once again to own a $161,080 impractical sports car that takes a fair amount of upper body strength and coordination to climb in and out.

The base price is much more reasonable – only $129,900. But the options include a designo Cardinal Red Metallic paint job ($1,080), Black Nappa leather seats and synthetic microsuede headliner ($3,600), 5-spoke wheels ($1,000) and copious amounts of carbon-fiber trim inside and out costing more than $10,000.

The most expensive single option is the $8,950 carbon-ceramic brakes (15.4 ins. [390 mm] in front, 14.2 ins. [360 mm] in back), which are magnificent and worth every penny, seeming to stop the GT S with the abrupt effectiveness of a brick wall.

Challenging Ergonomics, Great Cupholders

The editors generally like the GT S, as well as the admiring glances from people on the street who find the burnt orange paint job a perfect complement for Michigan’s brilliant fall colors.

Still, some older editors question their place behind the wheel. “I don’t want to be that guy dealing with a midlife crisis,” one says, complaining also about sight lines. “The car’s not for everybody.”

Inside, the coupe carries over many of the infotainment and comfort innovations introduced in the ground-breaking S-Class sedan two years ago.

German automakers have taken heat for failing to recognize America’s need for good cupholders. After all, in cars like the GT S or the 911 Turbo, drivers have more pressing matters than sipping mocha latte.

But the GT S has a positively cavernous bin with two cupholders occupying prime real estate: right below the center stack, in easy reach, hidden beneath yet another piece of carbon-fiber trim. Two large diet Cokes fit more cozily than they do in the two cupholders of the Stingray, oddly enough.

Affalterbach nailed it with the cupholders but then made baffling choices on placement of the gear shifter for the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, which normally would be found at the front of the center console, where the cupholders are.

Instead, the shifter is placed next to the driver’s right elbow. Ergonomically, the driver thinks for a split second it might be easier to change gears by reaching across the body with the left hand.

As a daily driver, the GT S could grow weary depending on your commute. One editor finds tiresome the drum-tight suspension when plodding along on metro Detroit’s questionable road surfaces. However, at highway speeds, on decent pavement, the demeanor is perfectly acceptable.

A car at this price offers various driving modes, from comfort to sport to sport-plus to racing. In each one, steering is downright telepathic, and the Dynamic Performance Exhaust System delivers a few more decibels of aural magic with each notch.

But from a suspension standpoint, “comfort” mode should be more comfortable – more like Jag F-Type and less like SRT Viper.

AMG has given us extreme models before, such as the SL65 Black Series and SLS Black Series, but Mercedes sees this latest entry as more balanced and well-rounded.

And it’s a whole lot more affordable.

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