The brand new Mercedes-AMG GT R celebrated it’s spectacular world premiere ahead of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We took an in-depth look at the sportiest model in the AMG GT line-up and talked to AMG CEO Tobias Moers about all that has been done to create the AMG GT R.
One thing that becomes clear immediately is that this is not just a lowered, more powerful version of the AMG GT. The AMG GT R is literally packed with innovations; from rear-axle steering to active aerodynamics and a new ESP and traction control system. AMG challenged itself hard to make the already great AMG GT better across the board. When I say better I primarily mean faster as comfort might suffer a bit. Having said that things it is not as bad as it sounds as things like adaptive dampers, climate control, the infotainment system and the excellent Burmester sound system all remained in the GT R despite strong weight saving measures.
The launch of the new Mercedes-AMG GT R comes just weeks after the 1-2-3 podium finish of the AMG GT3 at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. A feat that not only filled the team at AMG with pride but also supported the launch of the GT3 inspired street legal AMG GT R with excellent momentum.
The world premiere itself was anything like I have ever seen before. As we watched the launch video on a big screen on the side of the Mercedes-Benz World test track in Brooklands a helicopter appeared above us with a container hanging underneath it. As it dropped the container with the GT R in it on the inside of the track a group of AMG GTs and GT3 cars drifted past in front of us creating proper smoke screens. Then the doors of the container opened and the bright green AMG GT raced out and drifted past us with the typical bangs and crackles from the exhaust.
After a lap or two all cars gathered on the center of the drift square at the same time the clouds opened up as if the weather god was saying: “Spots on”. Fireworks exploded right behind the pack for additional dramatic effect. Then Tobias Moers got out of the AMG GT R for his speech but the show wasn’t over yet. Another AMG GT S rocked up and Lewis Hamilton got out to take the AMG GT R for a joyride across the track. AMG certainly knows how to entertain a crowd of spoiled journalists and VIP guests!
But let’s talk about the car. The engine output might look familiar, with 585hp it pushes the new 4.0 AMG V8 to exactly the same output as that of the well known 5.5 liter V8. With 700Nm and the AMG Speedshift 7-speed gearbox it is safe to say the AMG GT R is not underpowered. The AMG GT R is 15 kilograms lighter than the AMG GT S which is the sum of new features like rear axle steering that added weight and extensive weight saving measures and a new material mix that includes the use of magnesium for the first time.
The main differences that set the AMG GT R apart from the standard GT and GT S divide in several different elements including aerodynamics, design, suspension and handling. At the world premier at the Mercedes-Benz World in Brooklands AMG specialists of all the different disciplines were available to explain the key changes with samples of components at hand. The new suspension with double wishbones and unibal bearings is very track focussed. The coil over springs can be adapted to a drivers specific wishes by mechanical means. In addition the dampers can be set electronically between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. Where comfort is the ideal setting for the road, sport for race tracks with a lot of uneven surfaces like the Nurburgring Nordschleife and Sport Plus is best suited for smooth race tracks like Bahrain International Circuit.
The AMG GT R is the first Mercedes-Benz and AMG car to feature rear-axle steering technology. At low speeds the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels essentially reducing the turning circle of the car and improving cornering abilities. At higher speed the rear wheels turn parallel to the front wheels to increase stability.
In addition to the rear axle steering technology the AMG GT R has a shorter steering ratio on the front to further enhance the sport behaviour of the car. Handling wise the biggest game changer is the new traction control switch in the center console that allows you to set the level of traction control across 9 different stages from wet to off. The idea is carried over from motorsports and will change the way you will drive the GT R.
The ESP system is completely new and developed by AMG, something that should not be taken lightly as this has been a very time consuming process. The yellow traction control switch works independent of the ESP when you switch the ESP off. In the background the new AMG ESP system also controls the rear-axle steering. Last but not least the AMG GT R comes with a rear axle electronical limited slip differential that improves traction of the 325 wide Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Optionally there are new lightweight forged aluminium AMG wheels measuring 19 inch in the front and 20 inch in the rear.
Another big change is the extensive use of active aerodynamics and the optimized design. When I say optimized I don’t mean an extra bit of carbon here or there to enhance the looks but a design in which form truly followed function. The front has been completely redesigned and lowered for improved aerodynamics, the AMG designers call it a shark nose. To reduce weight and the mass in front of the front wheels the front is now made from magnesium instead of aluminium. A carbon fibre lip extends down up to 40mm below the front splitter for improved airflow underneath the car and a reduced lift of up to 40kg at 250 km/h.
The new front grill with vertical bars strongly relates to the AMG GT3 car and is inspired by the 1950s 300 SL Panamericana that raced the legendary Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico. It is implemented on the GT3 and GT R to express it’s racing inspiration and desire and I wouldn’t be surprised if we will see it on yet another derivative of the AMG GT soon. Just below the grill is another active aero feature that only opens when the car needs additional air for cooling purposes – when that is not needed the flaps stay closed to reduce drag.
The front is 46mm wider than the AMG GT S and the rear is even 75 mm wider. This adds to a sporty stance that also give the recent C63 Coupe and C63 Convertible their sexy looks. The rear also has a plethora of changes, a new fixed and adaptive wing adds both functional as aesthetic elements. A double rear diffuser improves airflow and at the same time hides two of the cars three exhaust tips. This new exhaust system is made from thin wall steel and a titanium tip. The AMG GT typical bangs remain and are even louder and more plentiful than before – which is definitely a good thing!
Inside the new AMG GT R is very similar to the AMG GT S but there are some changes worth mentioning. New carbon fibre sport seats shave 16 kg off the weight. They are not as adjustable as the AMG GT S seats but provide excellent side support and it wouldn’t surprise me if customers had the option to chose a different type of seat in the GT R too.
The AMG GT R is a car developed for the race track, in fact it’s nickname ‘the beast of the Green Hell’ was not just a marketing slogan but the test drivers and engineers started calling the early prototypes running at the Nordschleife ‘the beast’. The Nurburgring was certainly the most important proving ground for the AMG GT R and Tobias Moers said achieving lap times of around 7:20 is not a problem for the beast.
During and after the world premiere we heard a lot of people chat about the exclusive color on the AMG GT R called AMG Green Hell Magno. It is a matt green with a special flake that gives it a beautiful eye-catching shine in sunlight. The color also provides a link with its nickname: “Beast of the Green Hell” and emphasizes its strong ties with the green hell. Tobias Moers was very happy with the way the color works in daylight as prior to the world premiere they had primarily seen it in the photo studio. With artificial light it is hard to judge the true qualities of a color like this.
The key benchmarks for the development of the AMG GT R was the Porsche 911 GT3. Looking at the extensive amount of work AMG put into developing the AMG GT R and the amount of innovations on board I would not be surprised if the AMG GT R will be very competitive against the Porsche on the road as well as on the track.
While talking about the AMG GT R, Tobias Moers confirmed that we can expect two more versions of the AMG GT soon: a AMG GT4 race model available for customer teams that like to enter popular GT4 race series with it and the AMG GT Convertible which might even see the limelight before the end of the year!
AMG opens the order systems for the AMG GT R towards the end of the year with first customer deliveries expected in the first quarter of 2017. Prices are also released later this year but according to the AMG CEO they are very reasonable. For our readers interested in getting one; visit your local dealer to register interest in the AMG GT R as many dealers already establish waiting lists before the order books open later this year.
Time to reach a verdict of my first impression of the Mercedes-AMG GT R; very impressive looking beast with the wider fenders and the rear with the double diffuser, fixed wing and central exhaust. As a big fan of the AMG GT S front I have to get used to the new lower nose and GT3 / Panamericana inspired grill of the GT R but it is an mean looking car for sure. On the inside I’m happy to see things like the multifunctional steering wheel, Burmester sound system and look and feel remained as in the GT S.
The sound is absolutely phenomenal and that alone would almost be a reason for me to want one of these. The 4.0 V8 is excellent in the GT S and with the new turbochargers and increased output to 585hp I doubt it will disappoint in the GT R. In regards to the rear wheel steering, new suspension and other technical innovations our first test drive will tell more but it certainly looks promising!