The Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster is the AMG GT you should choose. Of that much, I am sure. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with it earlier this week during the official launch. These are my thoughts.
The Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster is lighter, faster and much more exciting than its Coupe brethren (aside from the GT R of course). Simply removing the roof is what makes the Roadster that much more compelling. Cross–fertilisation of GT R technology has a lot to do with it too!
In today’s market, the traditional two-seater, rear wheel-drive, performance-oriented convertible is becoming quite the rarity. The AMG GT C Convertible occupies a relative niche, shared with at least three other sports cars; Jaguar’s F-Type, Aston Martin’s ageing V8 Vantage and the Corvette.
As a customer, wider your view and the Porsche 991 Turbo and Audi R8 Spyder start to look like healthy competition. But without the front-engined setup, they aren’t direct competitors. Its fair to say that the AMG GT C Roadster has quite a specific appeal.
The most important feature of this Roadster is its canvas soft top. It is a three-layer fabric unit available in black, beige or red. The shape differs quite significantly from the Coupe giving the Roadster a unique profile. The frame is a magnesium, steel and aluminium construction, closing in just 11 seconds and at speeds of up to 50 km/h. That’s pretty rapid by any standard.
The 1,660 kg GT C Roadster is 35 kg heavier than the new GT C Coupe making it the heaviest AMG GT in the range. By way of comparison, the standard Roadster adds 55 kg’s. That extra weight is down to strengthening work AMG have carried out to perfect the GT Roadster’s platform. AMG have strengthened the body shell, added a thicker side skirt wall and an additional strut between the dashboard support and the windscreen surround. A further cross member behind the seat offers support for the fixed roll-over protection.
Weight has also been shed though. The turn lid, for example, uses an innovative composite material with a carbon fibre and sheet holding compound blend. At the moment, that particular material is unique to the AMG GT Roadster.
The GT C Roadster gets a similar complement of bodywork to the GT R too. Wider fenders give the Roadster a more aggressive stance. The rear air vents also leave an impression. The GT C gets the AMG Panamericana grille from the GT R. My personal opinion is that this looks fantastic, although it does divide opinion. It has been designed to emulate the iconic Mercedes-Benz 300 SL’s that campaigned (and won) the Carrera Panamericana in 1952. Its 15 vertical chrome bars replace the single-bar version fixed previous AMG GT’s.
What really sets the AMG GT C Convertible apart from the rest though is the introduction of AMG GT R technology. It features a vertical louvre hidden behind the front apron which directs air under the car until that air is required to cool engine components. The vertical louvres open to channel the air into the engine and reduces drag when closed. Other GT R features include the electronically controlled rear axle differential lock and the active rear axle steering system.
It is the later features that really make the difference though. In Sport + mode, the GT C turns in as though it is on rails. There is less oversteer and understeer than the coupe. The rear wheel steering and electronic differential ensure that everything works to its maximum ability. It is genuinely impressive given the inherent disadvantages of the convertible setup.
Under that long front bonnet sits a 4.0 litre V8 powerplant with twin turbochargers and direct injection. The C produces 557 hp and 680 Nm of torque. Sledgehammer performance is the result with a 3.7 second zero to 100 km/h time and a top speed of around 316 km/h. The performance figures tell just a small part of the story though. The throttle response in Sport + mode is instantaneous and the power pulls consistently through the rev range.
The V8 rumble is impressive, although we noticed less audible crackles in the Roadster. As a result, the sound feels less manufactured, although the rumble is amplified by the removal of the roof. The Roadster feels a more grown-up car than the competition; typically German!
Moving along the long straight roads of the Arizona valley’s to Roadster also demonstrates its ability as an out-and-out cruiser. In comfort mode, the chassis softens slightly and the V8 growl is muffled. It is possible to travel in the Roadster at normal motorway speeds.
From the inside, the Roadster is a pretty comfortable place to be. At 6 foot 1 inch, I experienced no problems with wind buffering (windows up and air-scarf engaged of course!). There is plenty of space, even with the roof up. The infotainment system is typical of Mercedes models which makes it easy to get used to.
So what’s the final verdict then? For us, the Roadster is the GT to have. Removing the roof gives the AMG GT a whole new appeal. With the addition of the GT R technology and the pumped up looks, it is head and shoulders above the competition.