Michael SimariCar and Driver
A base Toyota Corolla or an optionless Ford Escape might get the adrenaline pumping when you’re trying to win one on The Price is Right, but it’s tough for a car lover to get excited about a stripped-down automobile with a weak-sauce engine. While there’s an undeniable honesty and value in all basic cars, when you move away from entry-level machines and into something like the Mercedes-AMG GT, the base car is more than enough.
The starter kit to the AMG GT line comes in at $116,895, so it’s entry level in the same way a four-seat private jet could be considered entry level. With a car as special as the GT, it’s easy to overlook the things you don’t get in the base car. Will you miss or even notice that the base car’s rear fenders are 2.3 inches narrower than other versions of the GT? Probably not. A GT is gorgeous and eye catching even without the equivalent of a collagen filler.
There are also more powerful versions of the GT, but the first time you rip away from a stoplight you’ll be convinced that 469 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque are more than enough. Pinning the gas pedal to the firewall calls 60 mph up in 3.5 seconds, and the quarter-mile passes in 11.8 seconds at 120 mph. Those times are strong for the 3709-pound coupe, but they trail the pricier 550-hp Mercedes-AMG GT C times to 60 mph and through the quarter by 0.3 and 0.5 second, respectively. Those numbers are good for bragging rights, but it’s a difference you’re unlikely to notice unless you decide to drag race a GT C. When you’re sitting inside and the GT is painting the world in an impressionistic blur, the difference seems irrelevant.
Once you adjust to the world rushing by, you’ll notice that there’s not a lot of room inside. Driver and passenger are forced Tinder-date close, and the $1900 Nappa leather seats are supportive, if a bit hard. Looking through the small windshield is like perpetually squinting. The fact that you can’t see much makes it that much easier to imagine you’re IMSA driver Ben Keating pushing hard through Turn 6 at Road Atlanta.
Adding to the race-car effect is the sound. The exhaust can barely contain its anger. In its most dynamic Sport Plus mode, a quick lift of the throttle triggers snarls and pops from the tailpipes. There’s a nice pop from behind as the GT’s seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle snaps through the gears.
The GT’s narrower fenders house narrower rear rubber than the wider GT C. Base versions roll on staggered Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires sized 265/35R-19 in front and 295/30R-20 in back. The base setup might not have the wider meats, but the GT packs plenty of grip, and it claws into the skidpad at 1.06 g. The standard iron rotors sized 14.2 inches in the front and rear stop the GT from 70 mph in 156 feet. The GT employs a limited-slip differential whereas the premium models use a more sophisticated electronically controlled unit. On the street, you’d never know the difference. With that long hood and the engine pushed back behind the front-axle line, you feel as if you’re sitting on the rear axle. When the tail swings wide, you’re right on top of it, and the quick but light-on-feel steering enables easy corrections. Even with the optional adaptive dampers, the ride quality on our unforgiving and battered Michigan roads is harsh, as the Michelins communicate the details of any and all imperfections.
If you’re into being thrilled by the turbocharged V-8, you’ll be paying at the pump. In our hands—we had a lot of fun—the GT matched its EPA city estimate of 16 mpg. Point it down the highway, and it stretches a gallon much farther. The GT averaged a good 24 mpg in our 75-mph highway fuel-economy loop—2 mpg better than the EPA highway number suggests.
This entry-grade GT wasn’t completely devoid of options; a few extras tacked onto the price brought it to $131,315. Many of the extras were cosmetic. Things such as $720 for Selenite Grey Metallic paint, $750 for piano-black interior trim, $1200 for carbon-fiber doorsills, $900 for the AMG Performance steering wheel, and $500 for red seatbelts would be very easy to skip. None of it really adds to the inherent goodness of this near supercar. When it comes to cars such as the GT, there’s plenty of power, performance, and beauty to make even the base car exciting.