THE latest open-top car to wear the three-pointed star, the Mercedes-AMG GT
Roadster, is set to carry a premium of $25,000 over the GT Coupe when it
arrives in Australian showrooms about September to take on the likes of
Porsche's 911 Cabriolet and Maserati GranCabrio.
The two-seat, two-door sportscar – Mercedes’ sixth open-top model – will come
in two specifications, GT and GT C, with the former priced at $284,000 plus
on-road costs - $25,000 more than the matching GT Coupe - and the latter
$54,000 dearer, at $339,000.
That pricing places it smack in the middle of rival Porsche’s extensive
eight-variant 911 Cabriolet range, but crucially make the GT and GT C up to
$100,000 cheaper than Porsche and Maserati equivalents.
The GT C Roadster becomes the most expensive of the six GT Coupe and Roadster
variants in the revised range to be rolled out in the third quarter of this
Mercedes’ GT Roadster joins the C-Class Cabrio, E-Class Cabrio, S-Class Cabrio,
SLC Roadster and SL Roadster in the Benz convertible range, giving the company
the most extensive luxury open-air selection on the market.
The GT Roadster is the only one of these vehicles designed and built from the
ground-up by Mercedes-AMG, with all the performance and sophistication that
Pricing and final specifications for the new-look GT line-up will be confirmed
closer to launch, but Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific has acknowledged that
both the Coupe and Roadster will include a new variant, the GT C, for the first
In the Coupe line-up, this slots between the mid-range GT S and race-bred GT R.
Timed to arrive in Australia just in time to take advantage of the fine spring
weather in the third quarter of this year, the GT and GT C Roadsters have a
soft-top that opens in just 11 seconds at up to 50km/h.
Sitting on a frame of lightweight materials that includes magnesium, the
three-layer roof – available in three colours – folds away behind the seats in
a Z shape to save space and maximise cargo room.
Of course, the first thing we did upon climbing into our bright yellow GT C
test car at the global media launch in Phoenix, Arizona, was to make the roof
disappear, revealing a drop-dead gorgeous drop-top design that – with all due
respect to the coupe version – was meant to have the roof removed all along.
The second thing we did was to touch the ‘start’ button, knowing full well that
the booming AMG 4.0-litre V8 would rend the crisp morning air. Yep, it is still
one of the most satisfying engine notes, at idle or full bellow.
These Roadster siblings share the same upgraded powertrains as their revised
coupe counterparts, with the base model GT’s biturbo V8 sending 350kW of power
and 650Nm of torque to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch
The GT C, which becomes the flagship roadster in the absence of an ‘R’ version
like the coupe, comes with 410kW of power and 680Nm of torque, sufficient to
propel the GT C from zero to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds, which is about 0.3s faster
than the GT Roadster.
Top speed for both variants is above 300km/h, with the C allegedly capable of
On America’s strictly patrolled roads, we did not see any of the above, but the
sheer force of acceleration out of corners on mountain roads was an uplifting
experience we will not forget in a hurry.
Considering the GT has the same-sized V8 and transmission as the GT C, the
latter is curiously more thirsty, chewing 11.4 litres of premium unleaded on
the European combined test cycle compared with 9.6L/100km for the GT.
Stick the boot into it and those figures become a faint wish as the big turbos
and fuel injectors get to work.
Despite a shortfall of 20kW over the 430kW GT R, the ‘C’ borrows heavily from
the ‘R’, taking the muscular, wider rear body design (+57mm) to accommodate
fatter 20-inch back wheels, along with mechanical items such as active
rear-wheel steering, electronically controlled limited-slip differential, 390mm
compound front brake discs and variable performance exhaust to let the big V8
These are big pluses for the GT C – assets that may make the more expensive
version the top seller in Australia.
The fat behind is a good look, but it is the mechanical enhancements that
provide the real benefit in our eyes. The rear-wheel steering helps the
roadster point through corners with unflustered calm while also helping
low-speed manoeuvrability – handy in such a wide car.
Combined with AMG’s ride-control sports suspension on the GT C, this system
starts to make the extra expenditure for the up-market Roadster look reasonable.
No fewer than five electronically controlled driving modes are available via a
knob on the console on the GT C (four on GT), ranging from Comfort to Race, but
we found ourselves switching between Comfort and Sports for most of the
journey, depending on the road.
The Sports+ mode tended to be a bit manic, while we weren’t tempted to try Race
on the open road where safety systems such as electronic stability control are
left in place by the wise.
Unusually, the GT C has 19-inch wheels at the front and 20-inch rims at the
while the base GT has 19-inch wheels all round. However, the test GT we drove
had 19s on the back, indicating that they will be offered in an option pack
(and that Mercedes is not beyond gilding the lily a little on media launches).
Both Roadster variants get the R’s automatically closing louvres behind the
grille to improve aerodynamics, at least in cool-weather driving. That grille,
by the way, is the stylish new signature AMG vertical bar design, dubbed
Panamericana after the racing cars, that will appear on all AMG variants.
To make up for the loss of rigidity afforded by the roof in the Coupe, the
Roadster’s aluminium space-frame platform has been reinforced with stronger
side skirts and additional braces.
So-called scuttle shake is all but absent in the GT Roadster, proving again
that the Germans really do understand body engineering in all its forms.
The only irritant to our ear was a rattle under the dash in two of the three
cars we drove, but as these cars had been put through a two-week mill by
journalists from all around the world by the time we got to them, that is not
A unique feature of the new GT Roadster is a lightweight bootlid made from a
new process combining carbon-fibre with a sheet moulding process.
Lifting that lid reveals a tight boot space that would hold about two large
sports bags. Of course, the folding roof swallows the rest.
And don’t go looking for lots of cubbies in the cabin – space is at a premium
Both GT Roadsters get AMG sports seats, but the GT C gets the extra bling, with
a mix of suede-like microfibre and leather upholstery in place of the fake
leather on the standard variant. The microfibre also extends to the chunky
sports steering wheel on the GT C, in place of a Nappa leather grip on the GT.
In any drop-top car, roll-over safety is paramount, and in this case, permanent
roll hoops behind the two seats are there, just in case.
Being a Benz, every possible safety device is loaded into the car’s armoury,
from adaptive cruise control with autonomous braking to lane keeping control.
Our test drive took all day, but we are not complaining. What a day it was.