Mercedes-AMG is growing its GT range rapidly. Even before it launches a confirmed new four-door model, buyers can choose from the GT Coupe and Roadster, GT S and hardcore GT R Coupe and the sublime GT C Roadster we test drove earlier this year. Now it's time to introduce that car's hard-topped sibling, the new Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe, reviewed here in nigh-on-perfect 'Edition 50' specification. Could it be the star of the line-up?
In the Metal:
When the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT made its debut in 2014, it looked the part with its long bonnet and curvaceous rear end grafted onto an impossibly low and wide base stance. None of that has changed, but the adoption of the 'Panamericana' radiator grille up front has transformed the GT into a menacing looking thing, in all guises. The GT C Coupe debuts as the Edition 50 special edition, celebrating half a century of AMG, and that brings with it a choice of two exclusive paint finishes, including the 'designo graphite grey magno' of our test car, accentuated by black chrome detailing. This extends to the cross-spoke forged alloy wheels. As with the GT C Roadster, the GT C Coupe's rear end is 57mm wider than that of the GT and GT S, allowing the fitment of wider wheels and a wider track. It's a simply jaw-dropping car in this specification.
The interior is best described as 'snug'. It'll be a challenge for those of larger frame to get in and adjust the seating to get comfortable, but for those that fit it's lovely as ever, with a high sense of quality and a towering centre console housing all the driving control switchgear. The Edition 50 features a lovely tactile AMG Performance steering wheel trimmed in nappa leather and Dinamica microfibre with grey contrasting top-stitching, an embossed AMG emblem in the centre console a 360km/h speedometer, the AMG Interior Night package and more.
It's fair to say that the performance of the GT C is other worldly, and while some will dismiss it with comments like "sure where would you use it?" the beauty of this car is that it feels special regardless of how fast you are travelling. And fast it can travel. The biturbo V8 used throughout the AMG GT family is tuned to 557hp and 680Nm of torque here and that translates into any-gear craziness and shut-your-passengers-up acceleration any time you wish. Use the launch control system and it'll take just 3.7 seconds to hit 100km/h, while the top speed is quoted as 317km/h. But you'll have to believe me when I tell you that this car is not all about that straight-line velocity, which is just as well if you're ever to enjoy this car on the public road.
As is the way for most modern high-performance cars, the AMG GTs all have several driving modes to choose from. Along with the standard Individual, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ settings, the GT C has a Race mode, which turns out to be perfectly acceptable to use on the wide, smooth roads that litter the German countryside. That alters all the usual things, such as power steering weighting and throttle response, but the C comes with loads of customisation. So, there's a button for the gloriously anti-social sounding AMG Performance exhaust, another allowing selection of three different damping levels within the AMG Ride Control sports suspension with Adaptive Damping System and another to tell the transmission you want full manual control.
In fairness, the AMG Speedshift DCT seven-speed automatic (mounted on the rear axle for weight distribution purposes), is an exceptional unit in all modes left to its own devices, but to take control of the gearchange timings for yourself using the solid metal paddles behind the steering wheel is to form an even closer bond with the car, engaging you more in the driving experience. It also means you'll change up and down the 'box purely for the enjoyment of hearing all the pops and bangs from the exhaust on the overrun, as the engine has so much go there's rarely a situation in which you'll need to drop a gear for more acceleration. Don't worry though, all this noise can be toned right down when you have a long motorway schlep to deal with or for when you want to leave the neighbourhood without waking everyone up early in the morning. Nonetheless, the sound this engine makes is reason alone to buy a GT.
But it's certainly not the only reason, and it's definitely one of those cars you'll get up early on a Sunday morning to drive for the sake of it, when the roads are empty and everyone else is asleep. Take a look at the specification, the power output, the wide tyres and the fact that it's rear-wheel drive and you'd be forgiven for thinking that the GT C will be an uncouth handful, best kept to the track or fast, straight roads. It's anything but. All versions of the GT are good to drive, well-balanced, tractable and surprisingly easy to drive quickly, telegraphing their limits to the driver in plenty of time and reacting with electronic intervention in a smooth, fuss-free manner when needed.
To all that the GT C adds an extra layer of ability thanks to sharing aspects of the range-topping Mercedes-AMG GT R, including active rear-axle steering and an electronically controlled rear differential. You never feel the rear-steering in operation exactly, where it turns the back wheels in the same direction as the fronts at high speed for stability, and the opposite direction at lower speeds to enhance agility, but the way the GT C scythes through a sequence of corners is breath-taking and utterly addictive. The wide track plays a part and the sophisticated differential helps get the V8's considerable power to the road efficiently, too. And while all this undoubtedly would contribute to faster lap times on a race circuit, it doesn't mean the GT C is aloof and disinterested in the driver's input. At all times, you feel like an integral part in proceedings, making it an exciting car to get to know, no matter what your skill level.
It's not perfect of course, certainly not from an Irish market perspective. The GT is already a wide car, never mind the GT C, and it'll feel uncomfortably so on narrower back roads in Ireland. We also suspect that our typically poor surfaces will conspire with the low-profile tyres and sports suspension to seriously compromise comfort. Otherwise it's a perfectly fantastic sports car to spend many an hour driving. A final note on that: some of our driving time was in the wet, and while injudicious use of the throttle results in a little side slip at the rear if you're not paying attention when in the sportier driving modes, it's still a stable and confidence-inspiring chassis, with no hidden dangers.
What you get for your Money:
Value for money doesn't really come into the buying equation at this level of the market, where buyers will typically drop tens of thousands of Euro extra on options and personalisation, but even the well-heeled might question whether it's worth spending nigh on €50,000 more on the GT C than the entry-level Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe costs. Oh, to have that dilemma. No question though: if you love driving, really driving, the GT C offers more.
Hats off to the handful of Irish buyers each year that will shell out for a new Mercedes-AMG GT. Their task has been made more difficult by the expansion of the line-up, and while the GT R is the headline act, it's a little too much for the public road. Assuming money is no object, then we reckon the best car in the range is the new GT C Coupe. Epic.