Not as in, “All hail the new king of performance.” As in, actual, real, cold, frozen chunks of ice falling from the heavens and pelting me in the face as I tried to get one last shot of #datass. Because that is one shapely derriere, and, well, I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of it. Even in the cold, frozen chunks of ice falling from the heavens and pelting me in the face.
If this was an event to highlight the latest version of Mercedes-Benz 4Matic all-wheel drive system, it would be understandable, and fitting, and welcome. But this was our first taste of the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT, Mercedes’ luscious new sports car that has its sights set firmly on sports car glory and the Porsche 911. Okay, you can also include sports cars like the Audi R8 and Jaguar F-Type that offer a focused sports car experience and pretensions to high-performance track dominance, with Audi particularly following through with an interesting factory support program for the R8 in IMSA’s GT Class, mixing it up on tracks with hordes of 911s and Corvettes and BMWs.
The full-on racecar AMG GT3 debuted at the Geneva Auto Show and is set to go racing next year, looking to follow the success of the SLS AMG GT3 that collected wins at endurance races around the world. But enough about the GT’s mutant speed freak brother, the roadgoing GT is unencumbered by any of those frightful aerodynamics, and the result is both stunning and disturbing.
Mercedes-Benz Canada invited us to Mosport, to experience GT S road car on a world-class track in the hopes of discovering its full potential.
But first, some gushing: I am in love with the details and the close views, Mercedes seems to have an infinite variety of gorgeous wheel options and despite the lack of gullwing doors, this car has Presence. But from some angles there’s just a little bit too much hood, and the cabin is just a little too much of a bubble for my tastes. However, from any of the rear angles, this car is spectacular, low and wide and just right, also hinting at the low centre of gravity AMG worked so hard to achieve.
The first point of business in a low centre of gravity was giving up the SLS AMG’s gullwing doors. As fabulous as they looked, they require significant structural reinforcement in the roof, and that added weight at the car’s highest point, a lose-lose scenario. Another way AMG brought the weight lower was the architecture of the powertrain, with the two turbos nestled in the V of the two cylinder banks, allowing a lower mounting point, and a rear transaxle layout for the transmission. Aside from a low centre of gravity, this layout helped balance the weight longitudinally the engine mounted back far enough behind the front axle for Mercedes to claim a front-mid-engine configuration, resulting in 47:53 front/rear weight distribution. The excellent balance was evident form the first turns, as was a very planted feel, with plenty of downforce available to pin the rears down with a spoiler that elevates at speeds over 120 km/h and during aggressive braking maneuvers.
Overall, the aluminum space frame weighs just 231 kg, with other weight saving achieved through magnesium components, aluminum body panels (with an optional carbon-fibre roof available), an innovative lithium ion battery (saving 10 kg) and carbon-fibre drive shaft that reduces weight and improves performance, resulting in an all-in curb weight of 1645 kg in this spec. An equivalently priced Porsche 911 (GTS PDK) weighs in at 1,445, but gives up over 70 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque….