Change. It’s a defining word in our innovative world. It can have both positive and negative effects, a double-edged sword of innovation. For years, the engineers and designers at AMG have been pumping out some amazing vehicles, with aggressive designs and thunderous naturally aspirated engines. The most famous of these engines has been the historic 6.3 litre, naturally aspirated V8. Holding it’s place in some of the brands most legendary vehicles like the C63 Black Series, and the sweeping SLS. If you told any AMG enthusiast 3 years ago that this historic power plant would no longer be in use, they might have called you crazy. Although it was the defining engine for the brand, Mercedes-AMG thought that they needed to do something. They needed change. And not just in their engines, but in their design language as well, so they headed off to the drawing board. When they emerged, they had definitely brought about change, in the form of the all-new Mercedes-AMG GT. The strict European Emissions regulations brought about the demise of the 6.3 litre V8, and brought in the era of Turbochargers. AMG outfitted the GT with a 4.0 litre, V8 BiTurbo engine. In the more powerful S variant of the GT, this motor put out a whopping 503 horsepower, but what was more impressive was the design. Turbochargers have always been the key to more power, but there has always been an issue. Turbo Lag has been known to ruin the sound and responsiveness of a car, and the world would have to wait and see if it had worked it’s dark magic on the newest flagship Mercedes.
On a cold Friday in December, we were lucky enough to take delivery of a Mercedes-AMG GT-S in the Southern Ontario town of Peterborough. It was a truly exciting day. Our specific example held a bit more rarity than your average GT-S, for it was a 1 of 300 Edition 1. This specific Edition held several aerodynamic enhancements over the regular GT-S, including a fixed rear wing, and a extended front splitter. To add to these extra’s it also consisted of a Carbon Fibre roof section, and a set of 20” 10-spoke AMG rims, finished in a gorgeous Silver/Black Bi-colour scheme. The car was very much like the SLS in terms of its proportions. Low ride height, long hood, and a slanting roofline, but it looked much more refined. Fewer edges and more curves graced the GT-S, and a rear end that reminded us very much of the Porsche 911 could be observed. One thing that is absent is the signature gullwing-style doors that the SLS had used. They had been replaced by a much more conventional door. On the inside, the car was absolutely stunning. Alcantara Leather sports seats with red inserts, and red seatbelts hold the occupants in place. The dash is classic AMG, with a speedometer on the left, and a rev counter on the right, both finished with a carbon fibre backing. A small screen, that gives the driver info ranging from speed, to engine temperature, and even features a timer for track days, separates the two dials. Although all of these features are very nice, the best part of the interior is obvious the moment you set foot in it. The center console takes the shape of a V8 engine configuration, with buttons to change mode, open the valves on the exhaust, change the suspension setting, and start and stop the engine. It feels almost as if you’re in a fighter jet, with many buttons to keep you entertained.
As much as you’ll love the interior, what sits in the front portion of the car is by far the coolest bit of technology on the GT. When AMG announced it was moving on from the naturally aspirated V8 that had held its place in the SLS for a turbocharged V8, there was worry. Worry that the sound would disappoint, worry that the engine itself would disappoint. After the first 20 or so kilometers from the dealership on our way back to Toronto, the worries were quickly forgotten. The new 4.0 Liter V8 BiTurbo engine was an absolute masterpiece, and without taking a look into the engine bay, felt more like it was naturally aspirated rather than turbocharged. This was all due to a interesting trick by the engineers over at AMG. Unlike the classic placement of a turbocharger on an engine, the two turbos of the GT-S are placed within the V of the engine. This leads to a couple of advantages. Firstly, it allows for the engine to be smaller and more compact, and secondly, since the turbos reside inside the engine, the lengths of the intake valves are significantly reduced, allowing for quicker response times, and a seriously reduced amount of turbo lag. This was definitely noticeable as we headed southwest along Highway 115, towards the city of Toronto. With the temperatures hovering around 5 degrees Celsius, the turbos were in their prime and the throttle response was immediate. As the rev counter went higher and higher, the thunderous rumble of the V8 was a very delightful surprise, confirming that AMG had once again managed to make us feel as if the turbos were nothing more than a figment of our imagination. As I approached 7000 RPM’s, a quick tap of the UP paddle shifter demonstrated the masterfully engineered transmission that Mercedes had given to the GT.
The SLS was a masterpiece, powered by a historic engine and with dashing looks, but there had always been something wrong. Something that Mercedes-AMG had changed in the GT. There was something different, a sense of balance that had given a new name to AMG. Gone were the days of constant over-steer and short-lived rear tires, and in are the days of control, grip, and a new sense of refinement. Although, the GT can let itself loose if it must.