The ridiculous treat
It’s early afternoon sometime in the late eighties and a young teenage version of the author is sitting on a Windhoek sidewalk near his school waiting for a parental pick-up. Suddenly a big white Mercedes roars into sight, stops at a nearby junction and disappears again with howling tyres and booming V8 thunder.
That brief incident wasn’t a trigger but most certainly an integral part of my love for cars. Especially V8’s. And wouldn’t you know it, today I’m here to tell you all about my most recent automotive astonishment which just happened to have been white, powered by a V8, and a Mercedes-Benz, too.
In all fairness, it’s probably thee Mercedes of our time which astonishes even seasoned motoring hacks. Known internally as the C190, this new GT replaced AMG’s previous two-door supercar, the SLS. Lighter, tighter and now with beefy Bi-Turbo 4-litre V8 power, it’s also a long-bonnet cab-at-the-back scenario.
Although it had to grow on me, the car’s protruding nose and rounded headlights give design direction to the rest of the Benz portfolio; just like the SLS and SLR did before it. The cockpit will probably do the same and what a cockpit it is – futuristic shapes and innovative technology peppered with luxurious materials.
…it feels like a crouching race car.
The two seats feel like they’re barely clearing the tarmac, the length of that gigantic ego extension out front is hard to judge and rearward visibility isn’t overwhelming either. I assure you that this all adds to the GT’s ambience though and, once you’ve managed a semi-dignified entrance, it feels like a crouching race car.
Adding to this sensation are the suede-covered steering wheel, silver shift paddles, 360km/h speedometer, some roof-mounted buttons and various driver controls on the gigantic central tunnel. Among drive and gearbox mode knobs, you can also fiddle with the damper strength, traction control and auto start/stop.
Honestly. Start/stop in a 340kW supercar (we tested in 375kW GT S). You only need to fire up this loud, angry, gargling beast of an engine to see how ridiculous that is. Which is why I always turned it off, switched the exhaust to maximum neighborhood annoyance mode and set the gearbox to I’ll-do-it-myself.
After discovering the world’s tiniest gear selector and slight slow-speed hesitation from the gearbox, the next thing to grab me was the GT S’ baffling ride. If you’re expecting smooth and bulky, stop reading now. This car feels light on its feet but with an edgy precision to it. You can feel every detail through the steering.
The ride is as hard and restless as you’d expect from a high-performance car until you discover that it’s still in Comfort mode. Switch to Sport, Plus or RACE to dislocate your spine over any sort of bump. Better yet, and this didn’t take me long to figure out, buy or book a race track to really see what this car is capable of.
That obviously goes for its power plant, too. Turbo-lag is almost non-existent, thanks to the turbo-chargers sitting inside the V8’s two cylinder banks. Shorter route, better response. Low-rev torque is impressive (up to 650Nm), mid-range clout is phenomenal and high-rev antics are properly scary.
…0-100km/h in a GPS-verified 3.64 seconds…
To put this into perspective, we used the car’s built-in RACE START function to record 0-100km/h in a GPS-verified 3.64 seconds and 400m in a mere 11.49 seconds. At 201.34km/h. The GT S also exhibited insane levels of grip (19-inch wheels front, 20-inch rear) whose limits I probably never got close to.
I can also tell you that the GT S has outstanding LED headlights, a flat boot under that fastback lid, no spare wheel and quite a few costly options left to tick. Ours included Designo paint (N$30,000), Carbon Pack (N$70,000), various driver aids and Ceramic Composite Brakes for N$123,000. But trust me, you’ll want those.
Prices for the Mercedes AMG GT start at N$1,707,000 while this S version costs N$2,060,200 without options. Considering its insane fire power and eager chassis, not only do I consider that great value but also a stonking great middle finger in the direction of their fellow Stuttgart brand, Porsche.
And as a final treat, on the last day of my test I suddenly found a hatchback hovering alongside me on the highway. The driver had allowed his son to open the window and I was only too happy to oblige this blatant request for V8 noises. And that’s another thing the GT S is great at – a halo car for young petrolheads to aspire to.
0-10km/h: 0,29 seconds
0-20km/h: 0,69 seconds
0-30km/h: 1,05 seconds
0-40km/h: 1,38 seconds
0-50km/h: 1,69 seconds
0-60km/h: 1,99 seconds
0-70km/h: 2,38 seconds
0-80km/h: 2,81 seconds
0-90km/h: 3,19 seconds
0-100km/h: 3,64 seconds
0-110km/h: 4,19 seconds
0-120km/h: 4,73 seconds
0-130km/h: 5,31 seconds
0-140km/h: 5,94 seconds
0-100m: 5,13 seconds @ 126,74km/h
0-200m: 7,60 seconds @ 160,52km/h
0-300m: 9,63 seconds @ 184,68km/h
0-400m: 11,49 seconds @ 201,34km/h
Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.96G
All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box