At the launch outside Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands, it arrived in a shipping container suspended beneath a helicopter, Lewis Hamilton put in an appearance, and the smoke from the burnouts was only rivalled by the smoke from the fireworks. Clearly AMG felt quite proud of its new car.
The AMG GT R (the lack of hyphen clearly eliminates any possibility of confusion,*,) is a thoroughly reworked, track-focused step up from the GT S. it takes much of its inspiration from the GT3 race cars that swept the podium (and fourth place too, just for good measure) in this year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours race. To emphasise this relationship with the Nordschleife, the eye-popping paintwork of the launch car is called ‘Green Hell Magno’.
The bodywork underneath the paint is 46mm wider at the front and 57mm wider at the rear, with the new front wings formed from carbonfibre. Underneath that bodywork the hardware is even more impressive. The 4-litre, dry-sump V8 gets new turbochargers that increase the boost pressure from 1.2bar to 1.35bar and lift power and torque by 74bhp and 371b ft respectively.
Plenty of work has been done on the chassis, too. For a start, there is adjustable coilover suspension that works with the AMG Ride Control continuously variable adaptive damping. Like in the S, there are three damper settings, with the middle Sport setting apparently being most suitable for the Nürburgring, while the stiffest is better for circuits such as Hockenheim and Silverstone, There is a thicker anti-roll bar at the rear and torsional rigidity has also been improved by up to 7.5 per cent front and rear with carbonfibre braces. The steering ratio has been slightly reduced, while dynamic engine and transmission mounts come as standard, as do Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres (275/35 ZR19 front and 325/30 ZR20 rear).
Perhaps the closest link with the GT3 race car comes in the electronics. There are still three ESP settings, but the programming of the Off mode and how it works with the electronically controlled limited-slip diff is apparently taken straight from the GT3 car. There is also nine-stage traction control that is adjusted via a small yellow rotary switch with LEDs surrounding it. Level one is for timid driving in the wet and level nine lets you off the leash entirely.
A titanium rear silencer and the use of thin-walled steel for the front section of the exhaust saves around 6kg. There is also a new central exit for the exhaust, splitting the rear diffuser Reduced sound- deadening means that the R should be suitably aurally bombastic inside and it certainly sounds raucous from outside. A carbonfibre torque tube weighing 13.9kg is also about 40 per cent lighter than the aluminium equivalent in the S, but despite the myriad savings, the R only weighs 15kg less overall than an S. However, AMG is quick to point out that there is also a lot of additional hardware, such as the rear-wheel steering (a first for a Mercedes).
The new AMG GT R will go on sale on 21 November 2016. No price has been announced yet, but given the significant changes we would expect it to command a healthy premium over the £110,510 list price of a GT S.
The three-time F1 world champion mode an appearance at the launch, so we sat him down and talked cars. He has a thing for V12s (most famously the one in his Zonda) but apparently likes to keep the mileage on his cars low and tends to ride his motorbikes if he wants to blow the cobwebs away. He would love to develop his own road car, saying that he is fastidious in the way that he chooses his specification He has apparently talked about it to Tobias Moers, the CEO of Mercedes-AMG. And suggested there could bean AMG GT “LH”.
Nissan-baiting naming strategy aside, the GT R looks very exciting, I asked if this R was instead of a Black Series model. but apparently not. Indeed, we are likely to see several other variants of the GT (a roadster Is a certainty, but we’re talking about the coupe here). We’re not sure what those variants will be, but given how serious the R looks, it is exciting to think that a Black Series could go even further. And how about a hybrid or fully electric GT E? Or an all-wheel-drive GT 4?
Perhaps the V8 will become the middle engine in a range with a V6 below and a V12 above. It would be great if there were a GT M, but sadly I think that a manual model really is pure fantasy.
186,000 – Maximum rpm of the GT R’s two turbochargers
0.015 – The reduction in the GT’s drag coefficient despite all the extra aero addenda
9 – The number of traction-control settings available
1.5 – Maximum toe-angle change from the rear-wheel steering
402mm – The diameter of the optional front carbon-ceramic brake disc. The rears discs are 360mm
The wing angle can be adjusted manually, but there are other automated, active- aero elements to the GT R. The intake below the front number plate opens In less than a second If temperatures require it. Underneath the nose Is a large carbon panel that angles down above 50mph. According to Mercedes, this creates a Venturi effect and reduces front-axle lift by 40kg at 155mph.
The ‘air curtains’ at the extremities of the nose help to divert air around the front wheels, while there is a large double-diffuser at the rear. Despite downforce increasing oy 155kg, the drag coefficient has dropped from 0.365 on the GT S to 0.350 for the GT R.
Two electromechanical steering actuators (electric motors with jackscrews) replace the conventional control arms on the rear axle of the AMG GT R. This ‘by wire’ system adjusts the rear wheels in 20 milliseconds within a predefined operating map. The maximum toe angle change is 1.5 degrees, and up to a speed of 62mph the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels, which means a virtual shortening of the wheelbase, increasing agility. Once above 62mph the system turns the rear wheels In the same direction as the fronts, which has the similar effect to lengthening the wheelbase and so improves stability.
Gearbox: The DCT seven-speeder has a longer first gear but the final drive is shorter. Overall this gives ‘a more agile acceleration experience’. Also thank a 0.7kg Iighter two-mass flywheel.
Unsprung mass: The wishbones, steering knuckles and hub carriers are made of aluminium to reduce unsprung mass. The wheels are also lightweight forged items and optional ceramic brakes save 17kg.
Suspension: Ultra-firm uniball bearings on the lower wishbones of the rear axle stop any play, meaning that track and camber should remain fixed, even under high cornering loads.
Engine: V8, 3982cc, twin-turbo
Power: 577bhp @ 6250rpm
Torque: 516lb ft @ 1900-5500rpm
0-62mph: 3.6sec (claimed)
Top speed: 198mph (claimed)
Basic price: TBC
Porsche 911 GT3 RS
The inevitable rival for any track-focused sports car like this is the GT3 RS. Like the AMG, the Porsche also has rear-wheel steering and a huge amount of aero.
Where the AMG has its active aerodynamics, the Porsche has the dramatic slats above the front wheels to release pressure from the arches. With 493bhp. the RS Is 84bhp down on the GT R. Things look even worse for the 911 when you consider torque, as It produces just 339lb ft at 6250rpm. However, the Porsche counters with a kerb weight some 135kg lighter and as a result Its claimed 0-62mph time is 0.3sec quicker, at 3.3sec (we’ve actually timed one to 60mph in 3.0sec). The Mercedes has a 5mph edge on the Autobahn, but its gearbox will need to have improved to match the RS’s PDK. It should be quite a twin-test…