REVIEW | The 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S offers storming V8 performance
The Mercedes-AMG family tree has sprouted many branches in recent years, and right at the top is the new GT 63 S 4Matic+, the most powerful AMG car money can buy.
The new four-door Coupé version of the AMG-GT two-seat sports car recently reached local Benz showrooms, available in GT 53 and GT 63 S guises. The latter wields the most powerful incarnation of AMG’s celebrated 4.0l V8 engine and it outmuscles all other AMGs with its outputs of 470kW and 900Nm — numbers that beget impressive claimed figures of 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds and a 315km/h top speed.
That’s supercar territory, and the upshot is that all this sporting prowess is bundled into a large and practical car that can cart four people in luxury while dicing against Ferraris. This pitches it against rivals like the Porsche Panamera Turbo and the soon-to-be-launched BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupé and Audi RS7 Sportback — though it outpunches all of them.
The obvious question is whether there’s room in the Mercedes line-up for both the existing Mercedes CLS and the new AMG GT four door, as the two cars are similar in size and styling and are also both based on the E-Class.
But the GT is the more overtly sporty car courtesy of its vertical-slatted “Panamerica” grille and large electrically-adjusted rear wing. Mercedes has also limited potential cannibalisation between the two cars by making only the GT available with the range-topping V8 engine, while the CLS is only sold with the 3.0 six-cylinder unit
Mercedes describes the new AMG GT four-door Coupé as combining racetrack-like driving dynamics with the high day-to-day comfort of a Gran Turismo, and the car largely lives up to the claims.
The roomy cabin takes four adults in stretch-out comfort, in two individual rear seats with an optional wireless smartphone charging pad between them. There’s plenty of head and leg room all around and the 456l boot is large enough for four people’s luggage.
The optional AMG front sports seats in the test car were supportive but pretty hard, and not necessarily conducive to long trips.
All this practicality is bundled into an entertainingly sporting package. It’s a big car but masks its 2.1 ton mass well with its power and driving dynamics. No soggy, floaty feel to be found here; it’s all as taught as a guitar string. The body stays level with the road under harsh cornering g-forces, with no pitching or squatting during acceleration or braking.
And the V8 turbo shifts that heavy kerb weight with carefree, grin-inducing disdain. Jump on the throttle and the big Benz shoots forward with its pants on fire, giving short thrift to any notions of turbo lag.
Sticking with the Mercedes-AMG reputation of entertaining aural displays, the car makes a sportingly muted roar by default — the type of noise that won’t drone annoyingly on a long trip — but pressing a button liberates an enchantingly aggressive holler.
The power’s lusty all the way through the rev range, and kept honest by a fully variable all-wheel drive system and electronic rear axle locking differential that quell the worst excesses of overexcitable throttle use. That said, if you boot it too early out of a tight corner the tail will wag its warning in no uncertain terms, especially in Race mode where the stability control is minimised.
There are several modes: Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race and Individual, which tweak the engine, transmission, suspension and steering reactions to the desired effect.
Ultimately this is still a Grand Tourer rather than a point-and-squirt sports car, but the engineering work put into maximising this big car’s agility is to be admired. This includes rear axle steering that tightens the turning circle.
In standard trim the sporty Mercedes radiates a lot of cool aggression with its swoopy roofline and large frontal air scoops, while a quartet of square tail pipes and a large deployable wing set a racy scene at the rear.
But to get the full war paint of the car in these pictures you’ll have to shell out extra for the matte grey paint job (R47,500) and 21-inch forged wheels (R43,400).
Much of the AMG decor in the cabin costs extra too including the AMG Alcantara- and carbon fibre steering wheel (R5,100), AMG Performance seats (R33,160), carbon fibre trim (R50,170), and black microfibre roof lining (R27,200).
The car does, however, come standard with a large digital dashboard which lays on a Star Trek look.
The test vehicle was fitted with additional options like AMG ceramic brakes (R118,200) and a Driving Assistance Package (R32,300) - all of which bumps the price way over the R3m mark.
In summary, it would be unkind to refer to this car as a dressed-up E-Class, even if that’s strictly true, as the AMG-GT Coupe does look like three million bucks — especially in that matte grey.
For those who can live with a less exotic-looking wrapping however, similar performance is available at around R1m less from the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S.
Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4Matic+
WE LIKE: Power, handling, styling
WE DISLIKE: Pricey options
VERDICT: A practical GT with blitzkrieg performance
Motor News star rating
Design * * * * *
Performance * * * * *
Economy * * *
Safety * * * * *
Value For Money * * * *
Overall * * * *
Porsche Panamera Turbo, 404kW/770Nm — R2,811,000
BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupé, 460kW/750Nm — R2,990,053
Audi RS7 Sportback, 441kW/800Nm — TBC
Type: V8 petrol turbo
Type: Nine-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT auto
Type: 4Matic+ all-wheel drive
Top speed: 315 km/h
0-100km/h: 3.2 seconds
Fuel Consumption: 11.3l/100km (claimed); 15.5l/100km (as tested)
ABS brakes, remote central locking, infotainment system, seven airbags, stability control, cruise control, climate control, rear axle steering, park assist, AMG Ride Control, Burmester sound system, ambient lighting, AMG Dynamic Select, electric tailgate, Nappa leather upholstery
Warranty: Two years/unlimited km
Maintenance plan: Five years/100,000km
Lease*: R62,189 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit