Since its introduction for
the 2016 model year, the Mercedes-AMG GT has been steadily accumulating variants. First there was the GT S, then came the base GT, then
the GT R, then
the roadster, and finally a GT C, available in both coupe and roadster trim levels. While on paper they're clearly differentiated, when looking at the stats, you can also see that they're seemingly not that different. So is there really a discernible difference between them in reality? After driving the range in Germany, we can comfortably say yes. We can also tell you that the GT C is the version you want.
The Mercedes-AMG GT C is the happy medium between the track-hungry
GT R, and the lesser GT and GT S versions. This is clear even just by looking at the car. Though it shares the normal nose of the entry-level GTs, the GT C has the widened hips of the GT R. The rear bumper is unique to the GT C, since it features extra vents like those on the GT R, but not the full diffuser and center exhaust.
This blend of normal GT and GT R on the outside sets the stage for how the car drives. Under the hood is the familiar twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 used across the GT line. The GT C takes advantage of the GT R's bigger turbochargers to make 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque. That's nearly 80 more horsepower than the regular GT, and about 35 more than the GT S. It only makes for a difference of two-tenths of a second to get to 60 mph between the normal GT and the GT C, but it's absolutely a difference you can feel, both for better and for worse. It pulls noticeably harder than a regular GT, but with the larger turbos, there's some noticeable lag when hitting the throttle. Still, that split-second pause is worth the extra shove.
The GT C's engine also breathes through a standard
AMG performance exhaust, which is an option on lower-spec GTs. Even if you don't spring for a GT C, this exhaust should be considered required. The simple fact of the matter is that the 4.0-liter
Mercedes V8 isn't as charismatic as say, the supercharged V8 in
the F-Type SVR, or the flat-plane-crank-equipped
Shelby GT350. It's effective, but mildly characterless. You know it's a V8, but you couldn't tell where it came from. The performance exhaust goes a long way to rectify that, amplifying the engine's growl, and adding in a few pops and bangs. It's not perfect, but it helps.
In regards to handling, the GT C gets another helpful option as standard: the rear-wheel steering from the GT R. Again, this is an option on the GT S coupe, and again should absolutely be selected if skipping the GT C. Though it's certain to make a difference on a racetrack, it's just as useful on roads. The
AMG GT is a very wide and long car, traits that were accentuated on Germany's narrow and frequently tree-lined country roads. On a standard, two-wheel-steering AMG GT, you can tell that the tail end is taking a slightly different course than the front. But with the rear-wheel steering, it's as though the car became several inches shorter and was articulating in the middle to wend round the corners. It made it that much easier to focus on enjoying the drive, rather than simply trying to avoid crossing lines and hitting objects.
In addition to the extra power and rear-wheel steering, the GT C comes with a number of other performance upgrades that aren't as easily noticeable, but still nice to have. It gets the same electronically controlled locking rear differential from the GT R. The front brakes are also the same larger units as the GT R. However, it does without its mightier sibling's many weight-saving carbon components, extra active aerodynamic enhancements and the nine-mode traction control system.
Besides these features, differences between the GT C and its brethren become pretty negligible. They all share similar ride and handling characteristics (rear-wheel steering aside), which are capable if not exciting. The steering is extremely precise and nicely weighted, but it's also surprisingly numb. It's tough to make out what's happening where the tire touches the tarmac. The car also is very adept at being hustled down back roads, though the size will make you think twice about how quickly you go. Really, this car feels its best when cruising at medium speed on back roads. It's a grand tourer at heart. Though the stiff suspension, on all models, seems to argue against pure grand tourer feel.
Inside, you'll find that almost all GTs are just as luxuriously appointed as you would expect from Mercedes. Everything is built solidly with tight gaps and pleasant plastics. The low dash and high center console help convey the sense of feeling low and enveloped by the car. Visibility is just OK. The long, tall hood fills up much of your forward view, which is additionally obscured by a low windshield header. It's fortunate that there's plenty of leg-, hip- and headroom, otherwise it would be a mildly claustrophobic car. One major difference that exists is the seats, mainly between the GT R and the rest of the line. The GT R is available with very thin, tight racing buckets that, while great on track, would quickly become a pain in daily driving.
So there certainly are noticeable differences among the AMG GT line, even if some of them are minor. And taking those differences into consideration, the GT C is easily the most attractive package. It has the best performance and driving experience of the cars except for the track-ready GT R, but it also features a comfortable interior that you'll be happy to occupy on the track and on the street. And as a bonus, it looks nearly as aggressive as the GT R. It's the AMG GT that has it all.