2017 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster review, test drive
31st Mar 2017 10:13 pm
All that’s good about the AMG GT with the option to lower the roof. What’s not to like?
What is it?
In brief, the Roadster is the new drop-top version of the Mercedes-AMG GT which was available only in coupé form so far. It uses a fabric roof that can be raised/lowered in just 11sec at speeds up to 50kph. The Roadster also happens to be our introduction to the updated GT range. There are a few design changes common to all GTs, more power from the 4.0-litre engine and even more versions on offer.
The revised GT family is identifiable by the new ‘Panamericana’ grille whose vertical bars serve as a visual link to Mercedes’ Carrera Panamericana race cars of the 1950s. Also hidden behind the grille are new louvres that open and close depending on the cooling requirements of the engine. When there is no need for additional cooling, the louvres stay shut to reduce drag.
As for the 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8, it’s been worked on for more power. On the standard GT, it now makes 469hp and 630Nm (up 13hp and 30Nm), while on the GT S it has been uprated to 515hp and 671Nm (up 12hp and 30Nm).
Altogether, the GT range has expanded; brace for information overload. In addition to the GT, GT S and range-topping 577hp GT R Coupes, there’s the new GT Roadster and the all-new GT C Roadster. “Now what’s the GT C?” you ask. Well, the GT C Roadster slots in between the GT S and GT R Coupes on the power scale with 557hp and 680Nm. Visually and mechanically, the GT C is closer to the GT R thanks to its 2.25-inch wider rear fenders, wider track and four-wheel steering system. The GT C Roadster is the car we’ve driven here but… (cue tragic music) it’s not the one coming to India. What we will get is the 469hp GT Roadster as well as the updated GT S Coupe around Diwali this year.
What’s it like to drive?
First, a bit about the roof. The three-layer fabric roof absorbs noise quite well. It’s never absolutely hushed in the cabin but you won’t have to raise your voice to converse with your co-passenger at least at average town speeds. Lowering the roof, though, does increase noise levels more than expected. There is a wind deflector on the rear sill but there’s still plenty of buffeting in the cabin even at cruising pace. Press down on the throttle with gusto, though, and it’s the engine that you’ll hear loud and clear. The note from the V8 is throaty with pops and crackles on the overrun.
And of course, this is a fast car. The GT C is ferociously quick to build speed and launch you onto the wrong side of the speed limit without even trying too hard. Its twin turbos seemed armed and ready at all times; there’s no lag and delivery is consistently strong all through the rev range. You just don’t experience that typical turbo car pause between commands at the throttle being executed at the rear wheels. Sure, this is the more powerful GT C but I don’t think the India-bound GT would be much slower. Mercedes-AMG claims a 0-100kph time of 3.7sec for the GT C Roadster and 4.0sec for the GT Roadster. Do note the GT Roadsters, with kerb weights above 1.6 tonnes, are no lightweights. Coupe to Roadster, the GT has gained 50kg thanks to the fabric roof and additional bracing to compensate for the loss of rigidity on account of the roof. The GT Roadster's aluminium body is stiffened with thicker sill elements, an additional dashboard support and a new aluminium cross-member integrated into the rear bulkhead that supports fixed roll-over bars.
On the smooth roads around Phoenix, Arizona in the USA, we didn’t experience any of that scuttle shake that is characteristic of convertibles. What the GT will be like on the pockmarked roads outside Phoenix Mills, Mumbai is what we’ll have to see in the future. In general, the ride did feel a bit firm, though the GT C’s standard adjustable dampers did help take a bit of the edge away.
As mentioned, the GT C comes with rear-wheel steering. At speeds up to 100kph, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels for added agility and at speeds above 100kph, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the ones in front for enhanced stability. And the system does its work really well. On twisty canyon roads, the GT C felt smaller and tighter than we remember the GT S Coupe. There’s no getting around the sheer width of the GT but the rear-wheel steer helps place the car through corners with more clarity. There’s also tremendous grip out of the corners with the electronically controlled limited-slip differential feeding just the right amount of power to the wheels. The GT C’s steering is quick too and seemed more nuanced than the GT S Coupe’s rack that was a bit too sharp just off-centre.
Should I buy one?
What’s clear is the AMG GT Roadsters are more than just boulevard cruisers. Fast, seductive and really engaging to drive, the AMG GT Roadster is an incredibly desirable package, even in the small club of all-out roadsters. But expect to pay big bucks for Merc’s powerhouse. The AMG GT Roadster goes on sale in India this November and will cost in the region of Rs 2.5 crore (estimated, ex-showroom). It will be an indulgence. But then aren’t all Mercs?