Former F1 champ tells TG about his car history, and why he’ll never own a McLaren F1
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But it isn’t. At least, not as angry as the AMG GT C Roadster we drove a couple of weeks ago. What you’re looking at here is the non-C AMG GT Roadster – the base car, if you like. The less expensive, less fast, less shouty of the two. If the GT C Roadster is effectively the open-top version of the AMG GT R, then the GT Roadster is that of the plain-old AMG GT. Confused?
Thought so. There are five AMG GTs in all, three coupes and two Roadsters. All have the same 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 and seven-speed DCT. Coupes first: the AMG GT has 469bhp, the GT S has 515bhp and then there’s the R, which has 577bhp. To the GT the GT S adds, among other things, RACE mode, adjustable dampers and an electronic rear differential lock. The GT R gets much more besides, as you’ll no doubt have read.
This AMG GT Roadster has the same 469bhp as the AMG GT Coupe. Not the S, not the R, just the regular AMG GT. It does 0-62mph in four seconds, 188mph and costs about £11,400 more than the equivalent coupe. It is as different from the 549bhp GT C Roadster as the AMG GT is from the GT R - the wider track, four-wheel steer and electronically-controlled rear differential (the GT Roadster gets a mechanical limited-slip diff instead) of the C are very much MIA. So are the adjustable dampers, but you can option those back in for £1,495.
More is usually better. Right?
Normally, yes, but when we drove the GT C in the UK a couple of weeks ago we thought it was great but a bit, well…much. The non-C GT Roadster is less much. It’s 68mm narrower at the rear-axle (the mirrors are still the widest point though, so it remains a Very Wide Car), which makes it less tricky to park, less outrageous to look at and a less intimidating thing to have behind you. There’s less speed, less firmness and less purpose. The result is a car that, if you’re buying with a view to using it every day, will prove easier to live with.
So it’s better than the C?
No, of course not. That’s a mighty thing. The non-C is a different proposition. More of a GT car, which isn’t at its best on the limit of adhesion, but dialed back by 20 per cent.
The main irritant here, as with most AMG GTs, is the steering, which is much sharper than it ought to be in a car of this ilk (when you’re going quick, it’s tricky to judge how much lock is required. You end up 50p-ing everywhere), but the ride’s good (our test car was equipped with the adjustable dampers. Leave it in Comfort) and the engine remains a force to be reckoned with even though it’s been robbed of a few horsepower.
It doesn’t exactly fall to pieces when you drive it quickly, but as Ollie M found when he drove the hard-top version of this car, it responds best to a slow-in, fast-out kind of technique, where you don’t trouble the front tyres on the way in, and lean on the diff on the way out.
Not as much as the C, but yeah, it is. The sense of occasion this thing offers is part of it. Obviously the C delivers that in spades, but there’s enough here to satisfy. The snap-crackle exhaust remains. You sit right back, on what feels like directly over the rear axle, in a cocooning interior with a vast expanse of bonnet stretched out ahead of you. Alongside the C the narrow-body of this car looks a bit weedy, but in isolation this is a jolly good-looking thing. One of those cars you can’t help but look back at whenever you park it up somewhere.
How’s the roof down bit?
Handy being able to put it down at 30mph, and because it only takes 11secs you can be pretty opportunistic about it too. Structure is super stiff for a cabrio (the rear-view mirror doesn’t wobble about independently of the rear bulkhead), and bluster is well-contained.
Should I buy one?
If you’re looking at an F-Type, 911 Cabrio or similar then by all means go and have a look. RRP is £110,160, which is about right we reckon. This is a car of considerable charm, certainly. We might be tempted.