Handcrafted by Racers: Tobias Moers needs little more than the company slogan to sum up the essence of the latest sports car to come out of AMG headquarters in Affalterbach, Germany. However, it is mainly the hand gestures with which he describes the details of the new front mid-engine projectile that punctuate his words with a big imaginary exclamation point. Is it a coincidence that, even here, Moers only rarely moves his hands from the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions that are de rigueur for achieving fast laps? Even in conversation, he seems poised to instantly nip any rear oversteering in the bud with the determination of a professional race driver.
Prior to his current position as Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, Moers was Head of Development at AMG until 2013. And it goes without saying that he was the man behind the wheel during the latest GT’s final acceptance run on a dried-up salt lake in Bonneville, Utah. He sums up the thinking behind the new two-seater: “We wanted to bring the fascination of motorsports into everyday life.”
Lap record on the Nürburgring
Acoustically, the Mercedes-AMG GT is proving to be an overwhelming success – though the aural spectacle it produces is anything but routine. Christian Enderle is the concertmaster, as it were, who conducts the powerful cylinder octet that resounds so thrillingly in the ears.
Not inside the car, mind you – this aural display of power is being staged on the in-house AMG engine rig in Affalterbach, which is firmly bolted to the floor. Initially, the virtuosity with which the V8 biturbo unit attacks its performance can only be guessed at from the hot orange glow of the coiling exhaust system that is visible through the bullet- and soundproof glass.
“This engine is just setting a new lap record for the Nürburgring,” explains Enderle, “although it doesn’t know it yet.”
Finally, the engine chief presses a button and the sound of the powerplant – built on the “one man, one engine” principle (each unit is assembled by a single master mechanic and, at the very final stage, endowed with his personal signature) – is relayed over the facility’s loudspeaker system. Suddenly, it dawns on us: That was the tricky Hatzenbach section, and now it’s uphill to Breitscheider Brücke.
But there’s no need to go all the way to the Nürburgring to experience such spectacular soundscapes: Thanks to adjustable exhaust flaps, the GT driver can modify the sound of the supercar at will.
Resetting the benchmark
The AMG GT is a textbook of modern sports car construction. The engine comes in two power bands, the GT unit developing 456 hp and the GT S, with identical displacement (3,982 cc), offering 503 hp. Top speed: 304 km/h and 310 km/h respectively – figures worthy of a sports car engine designed according to the “hot inside V” principle.
In short, this means the turbochargers are mounted inside the cylinders’ V configuration rather than outside on the cylinder banks. This facilitates a compact engine design with low exhaust-gas emissions thanks to optimum airflow for the close-coupled catalytic converters, while the chargers ensure optimum responsiveness. And the technology doesn’t end there: The model boasts a locking differential and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
With the transmission in transaxle configuration and the V8 biturbo mounted as a front mid-engine with dry-sump lubrication, the concept brings with it an ideal weight distribution of 47 percent to 53 percent between the front and rear axles. A curb weight of just 1,540 kilograms makes for a power/weight ratio of 3.3 kilograms per hp, propelling the car to the top of its segment.
On the wings of design
The design of the sports car plays with the brand’s tradition (witness the side air vents with hallmark double fins), while at the same time striking a futuristic note with its LED High Performance headlamps and aggressive, open-mouthed front splitter beneath the stretched hood, whose pronounced power domes evoke the flexing of muscles. The retractable rear aerofoil and the new turn signals at the rear (18 individual LEDs on each side that indicate the driver’s intention with sequential lighting) can only be fully appreciated when the car is operational. Inconspicuously out of sight, meanwhile, are the antennas for (among other things) the navigation system, configured in such a way as to not compromise the overall appearance of the car.
There’s little time to explore where the antenna technology might be concealed as we turn to the compelling narrative of Raphael Winter, Head of Development – Chassis Systems, who is elaborating on the new GT’s extremely firm suspension. He draws our attention in particular to the sports chassis, with its aluminium double wishbones. He is also particularly proud of the elastokinematics of the chassis attachment, which ensures the high-precision wheel control one expects from a car built to exacting motorsports standards.
Another advanced high-tech feature is the control electronics in the GT S – known as the AMG CHASSIS CONTROLLER (ACC). This unit allows the dynamic engine mounts and rear-axle transmission mounts to be actuated independently of one another and continually adjusted for stiffness – in a matter of milliseconds – to suit prevailing driving conditions.
Accept no compromise
By now, the basic philosophy underlying the GT and GT S is clear: First off, the hardware – the mechanical basis – had to be right before work could start on the fine-tuning, such as the three-stage ESP or the speed-sensitive sports steering with its variable steering ratio that responds according to speed and lateral acceleration.
And let’s not forget the obvious: What is the AMG GT actually made of? The intelligent material mix betrays the complex approach: The entire chassis, including greenhouse and body, is made of light alloy, and 90 percent of the spaceframe body – the body shell – of aluminium. Tipping the scales at just 231 kilograms, it sets a new benchmark figure in the sports car segment. Surprisingly, perhaps, the trunk lid is made of steel; in practical terms, this is the lightest solution. The front deck, meanwhile, shuns the usual compromises and is made of ultralight magnesium. You could listen to the explanations of the experts for hours; the terms they use – “smooth underbody” or “rear diffuser” – hail from the vocabulary of sports car design.
As we turn our focus to the cockpit, the long-awaited test drive is starting to draw nearer. The seating position is low and the dashboard boasts wing-like styling with perfectly integrated air vents, while the freestanding central display with information systems conveys an almost magical feeling of lightness.
With styling reminiscent of a race car, the centre console is at once elegant and dynamic, while also exemplifying outstanding ergonomics. The hand goes to individual functions as if of its own accord, and everything seems to have been conceived and designed by true enthusiasts – Handcrafted by Racers. It’s high time to experience it for ourselves…