2016 Mercedes-AMG GT First Look
AMG's Newest Toy Grows a Pair of Tricky Turbos
The 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT is an all-new model, but comparisons between it and the outgoing SLS AMG GT will undoubtedly be made. It's now time to say goodbye to the SLS GT's memorable and flashy gullwing doors, along with its burly and rowdy-sounding 6.2-liter V-8. The Mercedes-AMG GT also packs an eight-cylinder, but it's a smaller displacement mill that's sporting two turbos. You'll also notice the new car's spiffy name (no "Benz") that the automaker says is a preview of naming changes for upcoming AMG products. We'll report on that name game at a later date. For now let's focus on the AMG GT, which is the second car to be completely designed and developed by the folks at Affalterbach.
Like other recently launched AMG models, the Mercedes-AMG GT will be offered in a base and an S model. Both are powered by an all-new 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8 that makes 456 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque in the base GT and 503 hp and 479 lb-ft in the GT S. This engine, which was developed specifically for the GT and is also referred to as the M178, showcases a special turbo setup dubbed "hot inside V." Here, the two turbochargers sit within the engine's V configuration, as opposed to the typical layout, in which the turbos are placed outside of the cylinder banks. This setup gives the M178 its compact dimensions. Coupling that with the M178's dry sump lubrication system allowed engineers to mount the engine low in the bay, improving the GT's center of gravity.
Those turbos also give the M178 a fat torque curve. For starters, max torque in the GT arrives at just 1600 rpm and 1750 rpm for the GT S (peak horsepower is around 6000 rpm for both). For comparison, the M159, 6.2-liter, naturally aspirated V-8 (583 hp and 479 lb-ft) that powered the SLS AMG GT spun at 4750 and 6800 rpm to reach max torque and horsepower, respectively. We've praised the M159 for its linear power delivery, and AMG is promising the same from the M178. Like the SLS, the Mercedes-AMG GT is fitted with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in a rear transaxle setup. Mercedes says the GT's gearbox is improved with a larger gear ratio spread and quicker shift times. That said, the Mercedes-AMG GT is estimated to run from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, with the GT S a few ticks quicker at 3.7 seconds. Top speed for the GT and GT S is 189 and 193 mph, respectively.
AMG's new sports car will be the first model to be offered with the AMG Dynamic Plus package. This package, which is exclusive to the GT S, consists of variable engine and transmission mounts. The system essentially softens the mounts during relaxed driving and stiffens them when it comes time to tear through canyons or the track. The AMG Dynamic Plus package also includes a stiffer suspension setup, more negative camber at the front axle, and revised steering. Out back, the GT S features an electronically controlled rear-axle locking differential, while the GT is fitted with a mechanical locking diff.
Another item found exclusively on the Mercedes-AMG GT S is an AMG performance exhaust system with variable exhaust vanes. The GT S sounds relatively good based on the teaser videos Mercedes released earlier this year, though we're eager to hear it in person to see how it compares to the SLS AMG GT's excellent exhaust note.
When it comes to stopping power, the GT is fitted with ventilated and perforated 14.2-inch discs all around, while the GT S gets upgraded with 15.4-inch discs up front. Both models can be optioned with a performance-oriented ceramic compound brake system, with 14.2-inch discs at the rear and 15.8-inchers in front. The GT features 19-inch alloy rims as standard, while the GT S gets a staggered setup with 19-inchers up front and 20-inch wheels at the rear. Lightweight forged wheels are available for both models.
Speaking of lightweight, the Mercedes-AMG GT is expected to be lighter than the SLS AMG GT thanks to its smaller dimensions and aluminum construction. (AMG will release those specs at a later date.) The automaker says 90 percent of the GT's frame consists of aluminum, contributing to the bodyshell's weight of just 509 pounds.
Stylewise, the Mercedes-AMG GT is a refined evolution of the SLS. For starters, the long hood has carried over to the GT, but its front fascia still manages to look both menacing and more cohesive thanks to the lower air dams and headlight units (housing a standard LED system) that are sculpted around the wide grille. The switch from gullwing to standard doors provides space for a rear-quarter window and gives the GT a more elegant-looking roofline. Out back, the simple, slim taillights wrap around the large haunches and help emphasize the GT's wide stance.
Highlighting the Mercedes-AMG GT's cabin are the eight buttons and knobs arranged on the center console to mimic the engine's cylinder layout. The knob on the upper left controls the AMG Dynamic Select drive modes that include Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus, with each mode adjusting throttle response, steering, and the optional performance exhaust and variable engine and transmission mount system. An Individual mode allows customizable settings, while a Race mode is exclusive to the GT S and adjusts the transmission and engine to their most aggressive setting.
After the SLS, the GT is the second car developed and engineered exclusively by the folks at AMG. Your first chance to grab AMG's latest effort will come in the spring of 2015 when the Mercedes-AMG GT S starts arriving in showrooms. The AMG GT, however, won't arrive until the following year. Pricing details should come closer to launch date, so we'll have to wait a bit longer to see how the GT compares to the SLS, whose price tag crested the $200,000 mark.