So last week we ran an exclusive first drive of the AMG GT R in the UK. The conclusion was that it’s pretty much as mad as it looks. But while we had the car we thought it would be a shame not to do a little more with it. So we took it off and did a few extra tests. If you want to know just how fast the GT R is against the clock, whether springtime in Britain has anything as vividly coloured as the Green Hell Magno paint, what it’s like to see out of at junctions and if you can get a cricket bag in the boot, read on.
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Can Merc's mad, 577bhp AMG GT R deal with the real world?
TG gets to grips with Mercedes-AMG's unruly Hulk for the daily grind...
Has it really got a £7,500 paintjob?
Yes, but really, just how good does this look? It’s actually impossible to take a bad picture of the AMG GT R, or its paintwork at least – the shape itself is an acquired taste. The matte finish diffuses the light, softening the shade off and justifying the alarming £7,500 Merc charges for AMG Green Hell Magno matt paint. Doesn’t really matter where the sun is in the sky, but early morning or late afternoon is particularly good.
And yes, people fell over themselves to get a closer look. The wing, the stance, the colour, the noise, and the proportions all play a role in this, as does the fact it’s just not as familiar or recognisable as a Ferrari, Lamborghini or McLaren. Either way, some people hated the colour, others loved it, but everyone loved the car.
Does it fit down country roads?
Now if you’re an American the answer to this is yes, but if you live in most of Britain, let alone the leggy south west bit where even bicyclists have to breathe in to get past one another, then the answer is different. Here’s a typical country road (actually it’s not because it’s not hedge-lined), see how much of it the Merc takes up?
It measures 2007mm across the beam – not including the wing mirrors. This makes it wider than such paragons of slenderness as the Bentley Bentayga (1998mm), Bentley Mulsanne (1926mm), VW Caravelle (1904mm) and Rolls-Royce Phantom (1989mm), let alone any of its closest rivals. A McLaren 570S (we’ll come back to this one a bit further on) is 1920mm wide, an Audi R8 is 1940mm, a Ferrari 488 GTB is 1952mm. Put it this way: very few cars are over two metres wide. The GT R is one of them.
And you do notice. In the UK the GT R is hard to place on the road. The bonnet is long, the front wheels are a distance away, and because the windscreen is a slot and close to you, it exacerbates things. You drive along country roads picking up ditch litter on the left, while thunking cats eyes with the right. Or in this instance ricocheting between grass verges.
What's it like looking out at junctions?
It’s at this point you realise the A-pillars are a long way back, the wing mirrors are large and close, and from your low, snug driving position, it’s tricky to see enough to be confident. On the plus side, the GT R can get itself out of junctions with extreme prejudice.
And through tunnels?
Here’s a picture of it about to go through a tunnel. Imagine the noise as the 4.0-litre twin turbo 585bhp V8 rampages through second gear…
Is anything in springtime Britain as green as this?
Easy: no. OK this green field of lush grass had a go…
That looks pretty lovely though.
Yep, a field of oilseed rape. Both are vivid and lovely to behold. Just not as lovely as the GT R.
Is it practical?
If you’ve read anything we’ve previously written about the GT R, you’ll know that this is not just a hardcore version of the regular GT. In time a Black Series edition will appear and that’ll really tear your face off. This, despite the visual aggression, is the car the GT should have been all along – better controlled, more driveable, less likely to twitch itself into a field of oilseed rape.
And still practical. Yes, you can have it with harnesses and a fire extinguisher, but what you really need to know is that the 350 litre boot will swallow your golf clubs. Or in this instance, a cricket bag. I think if I tried hard I might get my road bike in, although it would probably be in pieces and somewhere along the line the Green Hell Magno paint would have picked up a scratch or two.
It's got puddle lighting!
Proof that it’s not hardcore is the fact that yes, it’s got puddle-lighting. I haven’t been able to figure out if it’s standard or not, but in addition this one did have the £3,195 Premium equipment line which added Keyless Go, illuminated door sill panels, a reversing camera and a Burmester surround sound system.
That sun visor doesn't look very useful.
As far as I’m aware, this was the first AMG GT R registered in the UK. It hadn’t done very many miles. As a handy reminder of this, Mercedes had equipped the GT R with sun visors that didn’t quite reach across to the A-pillars, leaving a handy gap through which to read the running-in instructions.
The gist of it is this: no speed, no kickdown, no fun. But it went past 1,000 miles while we had it…
How fast does it actually go?
On a closed road, we put the test gear in it. Mercedes-AMG claims 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds, and for a while that looked like a wild overstatement. Despite all the clever kit that the GT R has that the GT S does without (carbon torque tube, wider track widths, four wheel steering, moving underbody aero, nine position traction control, adjustable dampers, standard Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres etc), launch control is bloody hopeless.
Wheelspin, clutch surge, differential snatch - it wasn’t even getting below four seconds until I decided to abandon launch control and have a go myself. That yielded a pair of 3.8s to 60, at which point the sullen launch control decided to behave itself. The results were startling. Here they are in their entirety, averaged out from running in both directions.
¼ mile 11.17secs @ 132.1mph
What were the brakes like?
Considering this one wasn’t fitted with the optional ceramics, it was deeply impressive. In fact, I’m not sure you need the ceramics unless you’re a regular trackday-ist. These were nice to use, with good pedal feel as well as strong retardation.
Cars that stop from 60mph in under 30 metres are a rare breed. This (29.55 metres) joins the McLaren P1 and a handful of Porsches (from the 918 Spyder, to the Cayman S) in the TG database.
Is it better to drive than a McLaren 570S?
You might have seen on the website that I’ve been driving the new Track Pack version of McLaren’s 570S recently. A standard 570S is priced within a few quid of the GT R. Which is better?
Wrong question. The right question to ask is which is more suited to you, and that depends on your personality. For all its new-found handling dexterity, the GT R is an engine car. It’s happiest in a straight line, hammering along, exhaust trumpeting and snorting. With 516lb ft from 1900 to 5500rpm it’s utterly rampant. The whole front engine, rear drive thing gives it an almost old-fashioned vibe. The McLaren is a chassis car. It’s actually fractionally faster than the GT R in a straight line, but it’s the steering and chassis that shine brightest in its genetic make-up.
Which would I have? The McLaren. For cars like this I’m a mid-engined man, as I prefer your seating position in the car – further forward, with an unimpeded view out, pushed, rather than pulled along. Plus I found the Merc’s steering slightly numb, which robbed me of the last edge of confidence. But what I’d really like is the McLaren’s chassis powered by, no, not the Merc’s engine, but the Audi R8’s natasp V10. Please.
Does the GT R blend in?
Here it is parked next to some quaint barns, cherry trees blossoming behind. Does it fit in? I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
And how's it on fuel?
Here are some results. In mixed driving, this is what you’ll get.
Clog it everywhere and you’re looking at 15mpg, go gentle on a long run and it’ll be 23mpg. Either way, this is not a very fuel efficient car. Not that you care about that. But you will care that with a fuel tank of only 60 litres, you’ll be doing well to get 200 miles between fill ups.
Look at that bonnet!
I wanted to show you this for a couple of reasons. One, look at the ratio of bonnet height to windscreen height. About 4:1 I reckon. The bonnet is absurdly long and it’s quite easy to nerf the carbon splitter into kerbs. It’s low, the parking sensors don’t pick up kerbs and even if they did, you still wouldn’t believe that toothy grille is quite as far away as it actually is.
Also, look how far back the engine is in the bay. The engine cover (black) isn’t actually on the engine at all – it just covers the intakes. The engine is tucked right back into the bulkhead for weight distribution. And besides, you couldn’t put a plastic engine cover over it because with the turbos in the centre of the vee (a so-called hot vee), it would melt.
Ah, it has a nose lift and heated seats.
Yup. Here’s how to allay those kerb concerns. The GT R has a nose lift system. I only found this when it was time for the car to go back. I also discovered this is where Merc keeps the heated seat switches. Didn’t find those, either.
That paint though...
Just look at it. Seven o’clock at night, this was taken, when the sun had gone down. Phwoar. At the end of the day, that pretty much sums up the whole car.