Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - AMG GT - S
Demonic noise, potent track performance, impossible wet-weather grip
Room for improvement
In deluge conditions, we couldn't fault this car's track ability. Full road test coming soon.
17 Jul 2015
IF YOU are interested in the AMG-GT S' interior finish, fuel economy or boot space then you'll have to wait for our full road test in a few weeks, but if you want to know what it's like to push it to 240km/h in driving rain, on one of Australia's most feared but loved racing circuits, then read on.
The Mercedes-AMG driving academy instructors had spent the morning doing their best to prepare us for a shot at the grueling Mount Panorama circuit, but with wintry conditions showing little sign of relenting, the task was looking treacherous.
Climbing into the coupe's snug interior was trickier wearing a crash-helmet but after firing up the 375kW twin-turbo V8, its loud rumble at idle was both comforting and slightly intimidating.
With a professional racing driver in the passenger seat for guidance, pointers and emotional support, we clicked into first gear and let the surprisingly high-ratio final drive push-off.
Time for one last check over the shoulder and we were rolling out of the pits and onto Mountain Straight.
Gingerly squeezing open the throttle awoke the full might of 700Nm with dizzying acceleration accompanied by wheelspin in first, second and third gears, and a demonic sound track.
For all those enthusiasts concerned that a pair of turbochargers may mute AMG's trump card: fear not. The GT sings the company anthem with bellowing and unfaltering enthusiasm.
Braking aggressively for Griffin's Bend revealed the GT's accomplished longitudinal grip with speed scrubbed efficiently without the ABS having to intervene, and confidence inspiring stability.
With so much moisture under-tyre, steering feel was lighter but still sharp and communicative. The direct precision was unaffected and allowed us to pilot the coupe up the unforgiving hill, avoiding the looming walls on either side of the track.
We had initially swapped gears with the steering wheel paddles, but with all adjustable modes set to Sport including the gearbox, the transmission handled the ratios intuitively, allowing us to concentrate on the task at hand – The Esses.
It may weigh just shy of 1600kg, but when powering down the mountain, the AMG GT S defies its mass, staying composed in tricky cambers and always pointing in the right direction, despite occasional heavy-footed braking. Even The Dipper couldn't phase the GT's solid stance.
We gave the scarred wall at Forrest's Elbow a nod of respect and blasted out of the trees on to Conrod Straight.
Speed builds amazingly fast in the GT and with the last downward rake of the hill assisting acceleration, keeping a foot planted on the accelerator goes against every instinct when powering towards a blind crest.
We summited the crest carrying serious pace, but thanks to the car's significant downforce, we stayed on the track while our stomachs went north.
On the other side is one of the fastest corners of any circuit in the world - The Chase. Racecars can enter the right-hand bend at speeds of up to 290km/h but we stood on the brakes and scrubbed the speed to under 150km/h.
The GT's incredible lateral grip fed the coupe through the tighter left turn but a momentary lack of concentration on its exit and too much of the loud pedal threw the Merc into a sudden power-oversteer.
The German engineers have done a sterling job on the stability management and whether it was our quick dialing-in of opposite lock or the electronic angel that prevented a spin, we will never know.
One final wring out of the earth-shattering and lag-less V8 and we were staring-down the final turn – Murray's Corner. With a final flick of its tail the mighty GT carried us over the finish line with a celebratory gear-shift crack from the exhaust that reverberated from the grandstand. Or was that the crowd?We are sure the excellent team of instructors would have been happy with our performance piloting the brutal AMG from corner to corner, in horrid weather without getting a concrete kiss.
But if you ever think you are turning into some kind of track hero, we advise taking a ride with a professional driver – like AMG brand ambassador and five-time motorcycle Grand Prix champion Mick Doohan.
For our final lap in the GT S, we sat pillion with the motorsport legend and witnessed the AMG pushed to its absolute limit, devouring corners with seemingly impossible aggression and pace.
Mick found grip in the circuit where it had felt like ice with our hands on the wheel and braked light years past where our bravery ran out.
At one point we swear 260km/h flashed up on the speedometer as other cars looked like they were in reverse, and before we knew it, we were flashing over the start grid again.
Mick Doohan is a master of both two wheels and four, and the latest addition in the AMG stable is a masterpiece when piloted by any driving enthusiast, but put a handy driver, Mount Panorama and the Mercedes-AMG GT S together and the result is very special indeed.
We cannot wait to pitch it against Australia's public roads, even if it does mean sticking to the speed limit.
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