2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster
Class: Premium Sporty/Performance Car
Miles driven: 226
Fuel used: 14.1 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 16.0 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||A-|
|Power and Performance||A|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||550-hp 4.0L|
|Engine Type||Turbocharged V8|
|Drive Wheels||Rear-wheel drive|
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 15/20/17 (mpg city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Premium gas required
Base price: $162,400 (not including $995 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Designo Brilliant Blue Magno paint ($3950), AMG piano-black lacquer trim ($750), AMG carbon-fiber engine cover ($1500), AMG Exterior Night Styling ($750), AMG 19-inch (front) and 20-inch (rear) forged alloy wheels ($1700), Distronic adaptive cruise control ($2250), Burmester surround-sound audio system ($4500), Gas Guzzler tax ($1000)
Price as tested: $179,795
More Mercedes price and availability information
The great: Blistering acceleration; agile handling; high-tech features
The good: Luxuriously appointed cabin; muscle-car V8 soundtrack
The not so good: Firm, noisy suspension; top-up visibility; small trunk; low-set seats complicate entry and exit
Well, this is a new one us.
No, really. The Mercedes-AMG GT has been on the market since 2016, first as a coupe and then a year later with a roadster, but Consumer Guide editors haven’t had the opportunity to test one until now. Our first crack at M-B’s Porsche 911 fighter comes in a matte-blue 550-horsepower “C” convertible.
The two-seat GT has been perked up for 2020 with appearance tweaks like LED headlights and taillights, redesigned rear diffuser, and new wheel and exhaust-tip styles. There also are additions to the tech and convenience complement, including the inclusion of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone compatibility. Slotted between the base GT and top-end GT R roadsters, a GT C like the one CG drove starts at $164,395 with delivery and $1000 Gas Guzzler tax—though the well-optioned tester came to $179,795.
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Here’s the executive summary of the GT: It’s 179.7 inches long on a 103.5-inch wheelbase, and squats a broad 79 inches across (though the base model is fractionally shorter and a little narrower). The fully independent suspension is anchored by forged-aluminum double-wishbone arms, and features electronically controlled shock absorbers with a choice of “Comfort,” “Sport,” or “Sport+” damping levels. Motive power comes from a hand-assembled twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 in three states of tune, with power apportioned through a 7-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transaxle mounted at the rear for improved weight distribution.
Body construction is extremely reliant on lightweight materials. For instance, the manufacturer reports that aluminum makes up 97 percent of the body/chassis by weight. Even then, the GT C has a stated curb weight of 3838 pounds—almost a ton per seat.
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Ride is decidedly firm—hardly a surprise—but there is some noisy suspension crashing over pavement cracks, rail tracks, and the like. Indeed, this effect seems worse at slower speeds; on the highway the GT C just thumps over joints and cracks without as much disturbance. Meanwhile, handling is exceptional, with a precise “carved” steering feel. Here’s one reason: “C” and “R” models are gifted with active rear-wheel steering that provides up to 1.5 degrees of altered toe angle. The rear wheels turn in opposition to the fronts up to 62 mph but in the same direction above that point. AMG, the performance division for Mercedes-Benz, contributed a composite braking system with 15.4-inch compound rotors and 6-piston fixed calipers in front and 14.2-inch one-piece rear discs. These binders do their job extremely well.
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Wheel and tire sizes are different front and rear, so much so on the “C” and “R” that they have 2.25-inch-wider rear fenders than the base GT. The stickier standard high-performance summer tires that improve grip also give off a lot of tire noise at highway speeds. Mercedes points out that the GT ragtop body was engineered specifically for that role, and not as a modified coupe. This driver sensed a tiny bit of cowl shimmy, but was way more distressed by a persistent rattling from the dash that just shouldn’t be in a six-figures automobile.
The direct-injection V8 in the GTs nestles its two turbos in the valley between the cylinder banks. It employs dry-sump lubrication to ward off oil starvation in hard cornering and to allow the engine to settle lower for improved chassis balance. For the GT C, output is 550 horsepower between 5750 and 6750 rpm and 502 lb-ft of torque at 2100-5500 revs. (Respective outputs for the GT and “R” are 469/465 and 577/516.) The engine fires with a bellow from the adjustable-volume AMG Performance Exhaust that appropriately advertises performance. The GT C is highly responsive to pedal inputs, even in Comfort mode, and the trans kicks down right away for vivid highway acceleration. M-B contends it will go from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and top out at 196 mph. Transmission behavior is considerably different in Sport and even more so in Sport+.
This driver saw 17.6 mpg after putting 121 miles on the test car, with 37 percent city-type driving. That would not have surprised the fine folks down at the EPA, who peg the GT C at 15 mpg in city driving, 20 on the highway, and 17 in combined operation.
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Convertible-top operation is quick—the 3-layer top lowers in 11 seconds—and an animation on the driver-information panel shows when opening and closing cycles are complete. The top can be opened or closed in motion at up to 31 mph. Curiously, though, when at a standstill, the brakes must be applied to work the top, even with the car in Park. Vision through the rear window is limited but we’ve seen worse.
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Enthusiast drivers can take advantage of a new AMG Track Pace display that will show things like lap and segment times. Newly standard are a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch screen for the infotainment system. Owners have a no-cost option of a control dial or touchpad to remotely summon audio, navigation, apps. CG’s tester had the decidedly sensitive touchpad that we never seem to like in any car that uses one.
Another curiosity is the bank of buttons to activate things like seat heating and ventilation. They sit face up, tucked under air vents. The buttons are silver with small icons inscribed on the surface. Good luck making them out at a glance.
Occupants settle into sumptuous leather seats with power-adjustable side bolsters in the cushion and backrest for optimal lateral support. Seats are heated and ventilated, and an AIRSCARF function delivers heating to passengers’ necks and shoulders. Soft-touch surfaces and bright-metal highlights abound in the cabin, where there’s good stretch-out room. However, storage space is limited. The glove box is of good size, but the console box is small and trunk space under the hatchlike lid is just 5.8 cubic feet.
The Mercedes-AMG GT is an invigorating driver’s car packed—for better or for worse—with a host of technological assists and systems. For a car wearing a three-pointed star on its grille, that’s nothing new.
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Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster