2016 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Driving Impressions

The AMG GT offers improved handling over the previous SLS AMG. There’s less oversteer, better balance. The Dynamic Plus package contributes to the improved handling. The driver can steer the car using the throttle and brakes. The hydraulic steering offers better feel with more feedback than the newer electric steering systems, including that of the Porsche 911. A new Race mode opens up the exhaust, changes the engine and transmission mapping, and tightens up the suspension.

At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca we had a chance to test drive the AMG GT. Squeeze the throttle when exiting the tight Turn 11 and accelerate up the front straight. By the time you pass Start/Finish and go under the bridge you are fast traffic. Hitting the kink that is Turn 1 while cresting the hill is now a serious moment when it wasn’t so serious in a slower car.

Coming down the hill to Turn 2, brake, downshift, trail off the brakes while turning in and the AMG GT S begins to rotate predictably, allowing you to straighten the wheel as you nudge the first apex, then the second, rolling back to throttle to squirt toward Turn 3. The AMG GT S feels much more like a true sports car than we would have expected from this 3500-pound GT.

Round the 90-degree Turn 3, accelerate onto the straight and grab fourth gear. The dual-clutch gearbox shifts lightning-quick. This is one of the most responsive gearboxes we’ve ever tested.

Brush the brakes for the fast Turn 4, hammer the curbing at the apex and drift out onto the curb at the exit, you are now accelerating very rapidly, topping 125 mph before braking hard for Turn 5. Downshift and squeeze the throttle down as you accelerate out to the edge of the track, heading up hill and under the bridge toward Turn 6.

Brake and downshift for Turn 6, which sucks you down to the apex. Drifting to the edge of the track, the AMG engine powers you up the steep hill toward the Corkscrew.

Over the curbing on the left, hard on the brakes, trailing over the crest and more curbing on the right, down two gears to third, a quick left-right as the world falls away, easing back to full throttle as you head toward Turn 9, grabbing fourth gear along the way. From the middle of the track, brake lightly, turn in and squeeze on the throttle as you head steeply downhill, hit the apex and drift out to the exit. On the brakes for Turn 10, then accelerate as you head toward the tight Turn 11 before starting another lap.

Back in civilization, stop-and-go traffic can be managed with the adaptive cruise control. Ride quality is relatively firm, but in Comfort mode, it’s pleasant enough, even over rough pavement. Wind and road noise are minimal, allowing you to hear the Burmester surround sound system all the better.

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