Photos by Michael Bettencourt and courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Affalterbach, Germany – At a splashy ceremony in front of both of AMG’s founding fathers, along with a brief appearance by Formula One driver and points leader Nico Rosberg, Mercedes-Benz finally unveiled the uncamoflauged exterior of the AMG GT – the new range-topper in the AMG performance line, but not a replacement for the SLS, insists the company.

No, the company is targeting less exotic fish than the gull-winged SLS, although the AMG GT’s 4.0-litre V8 will still produce a plenty exciting 503 hp in its top GT S North American trim when it arrives in April 2015 as a 2016 model. In 2016, a less powerful version of the 4.0-litre V8 will arrive as a ’17 model, offering up 456 hp by turning the boost pressure down on the twin turbo units, which reside in the ‘V’ of this V8 in both models, making for a smaller overall package and greater pumping efficiencies, claims Mercedes-Benz.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT camouflaged test vehicles2016 Mercedes-AMG GT
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT camouflaged test vehicles, . Click image to enlarge

This output may not quite reach the 583 ponies that the current SLS AMG GT offers, but the AMG GT S won’t be far behind in the realm of performance, if at all, judging solely by the published numbers. The AMG GT’s estimated 0-100 km/h time of 3.8 seconds is within a light breeze of the SLS AMG GT Coupe’s 3.7 second time, even though the larger and heavier coupe that’s running towards its final year in production starts at a truly exotic $248,000 for 2014.
Both the upcoming and current AMG flagships sport quite a few other technical similarities as well: a big, burly V8 up front, two seats, rear-wheel drive only, an aluminum-intensive body shell and chassis (updated from the SLS), double-wishbone suspension, and a seven-speed dual-clutch rear-mounted transmission. This helps balance weight front to rear to the tune of a 47/53 front/rear split, while lowering the centre of gravity of the car, said Markus Hofbauer, in charge of coordinating the AMG GT’s driving dynamics.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT undercarriage2016 Mercedes-AMG GT exhaust2016 Mercedes-AMG GT Specifications
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT undercarriage, exhaust, specifications. Click image to enlarge

“We wanted an authentic sports car experience,” said Hofbauer, in describing why they stuck with rear-drive only, unlike most recently unveiled AMG models. “Forget all-wheel drive and all-wheel steering, we wanted a pure driving car,” he said, suggesting that the firm’s 4Matic all-wheel drive system may not appear on the AMG GT’s options list any time soon.

No one outside Mercedes-Benz has yet driven this car, its initial drive program planned for November in California, but there’s a definite sporting aura to just climbing into the driver’s seat. Sure, there’s not nearly the same sense of occasion with the conventional doors compared to the upward-swinging wings of the SLS. But there’s an SLS-like Start button down low next to the shifter, the precise scent of fresh Alcantara wafting up from the flat-bottom steering wheel, with most controls moving from the centre console wall to a more horizontal layout for most of its various engine, transmission, exhaust and suspension adjustment buttons.
Very similar to another German company, but with fewer buttons, thanks to Mercedes’ round COMAND controller knob that’s not only spinnable and pushable, but also now touch sensitive.

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