AMG GT ... Big Surprise!
All the fast cars I have driven recently (mostly Porsches admittedly) have had a pretty singular purpose ... to go fast ... and they all go VERY fast these days, so much so as to be frustrating to drive within the milk toast confines of our speed limits. At the other end of the scale are big fast bruisers like Bentleys and Rollers, which also go fast, but seem pointless to me as they are not really cars you can hustle when the mood strikes you. I have always assumed all the big Benzes are at this end of the scale, so I genuinely had little preconception of what to expect of the AMG GT. I was expecting big, fast and a bit wallowy, yet the road test spoke of something aggressive and harsh.
For some obscure reason I got an invite out of the blue by email to an AMG Performance Weekend at Mercedes Perth, so I pounced on it. Not really sure why I got invited, I guess I must be on some database somewhere. I first drove an AMG A45, a simply ludicrous 370+ bhp from a turbo 2 litre, garishly finished inside, but went like shit off a shovel. Much nicer to drive than I was expecting, rather a nice surprise. Then came the GT, a full fat S version too. Both Bill and I drove it, a fantastic looking car, looks huge but probably not really much bigger than a modern 911. Bill went first and came back 45 minutes later grinning like a total loon.
So its big and wide inside, but superbly comfy, and despite the size, itís one of those cars which shrinks around you within a few hundred yards and feel more compact than youíd expect. The steering is a delight, very light and delicate, but it feels totally keyed in, even at modest speeds. Setting off in comfort mode it wafts as serenely as an S Class saloon, but on the fist straight I pull out to overtake a slower car and it is blisteringly fast, and rips past, yet feels totally composed. First thing to switch off is the dreadful sport exhaust, which farts and bangs and backfires in a juvenile fashion, but with it off there is just turbine like power and a creamy soft wail. Delicious. Within a few miles I am seduced, one moment it is as suave as a city gent in a Savile Row suit, and as savage as a drunken thug in a cheap rented tuxedo the next. Itís a brilliant combination, as it does not seem to goad me into racing everywhere, I can cruise within the speed limits cos it feels natural, yet a flex of the foot and it transforms completely. Unlike every other Merc Iíve ever driven which all feel heavy and rubbery, this thing was a light on its toes as a Golf GTi, utterly precise, rides comfortably, and feels completely at ease whatever the pace. Adjustable air suspension I note.
I drive for about 30 minutes and by the time I get back to the garage, I feel a paradigm shift coming on. Perhaps this is a fast car I could really live with. It wafts like a Bentley, stings like a GT3, handles like a sorted hot hatch, and looks as good as a 911. I donít think I have quite come across this collection of abilities ever before in a car. If I win the lottery I might just buy one. Not the S, just the basic one. In red. With gold wheels of course!