Road tests 25.7.2018 10:00 am

ROAD TEST: Dicing with the devil in Merc’s GT R

This R2.8 million beast of a machine is the three Fs: firm, fast and fun.

When MercedesAMG says that their GT R went from the world’s most demanding racetrack directly onto the road, and that never before have they packed so much motorsport technology into a production vehicle, it is a statement well worth elieving.

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Why? Because the car got through the Nürburgring’s Green Hell in just 7:10.9 minutes in the December of 2016, and at the time this made the Mercedes-AMG GT R the fastest going sports car ever tested at this legendary circuit.

The Nordschleife, which ranks as the world’s toughest race track, is said to be the ultimate test of a sports car, and
having driven the track myself, I certainly can attest to just how testing it is for man and machine.

A point or two worth noting, the record was not an “official” AMG lap time.

AMG didn’t use one of its racing drivers – it was Sport Auto’s Christian Gebhardt doing duty. And the record is now held by the substantially faster, but more expensive Porsche 911 GT2 RS, which ran a blistering quick 6:47.25.

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To do this Mercedes-AMG brought a front-mid-engine concept with transaxle, along with a 430kW/700Nm twin-turbo V8 powerplant, an extensively modified suspension, new aerodynamics and intelligent lightweight construction and devilishly fast machine into production.

Wider front and rear wings allow an increased track width for optimum grip and even higher cornering speeds.

The new front fascia with active elements, the large rear aerofoil and the new rear fascia with double diffuser enhance aerodynamic efficiency and once again help ensure optimum grip.

The lightweight forged wheels that are 19-inches up front and 20-inches on the rear, are fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.

You also get active rear-wheel steering, and a nineway adjustable traction control system and adjustable coil-over suspension with additional electronic control.

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This is all well and dandy, but trust me, if you haven’t taken the time to ensure the Cup tyres have warmed up a bit, this car will really try to kill you, accompanied by the best snap, crackle and pop you can find on a production car today out of the massive rear exhaust system.

This said, and before people start getting sensitive and climbing all over the irresponsibility of building, owning or driving such a car, you’ve got to be able to have some fun in this one life we have to live.

And, honestly, people driving home drunk after a good night out in everyday, very slow, boring, garden variety sedans, are far more dangerous in my opinion.

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So, I say live life, but be responsible, so maybe stay away from the traction control dial unless you are on a track.

And to make this an even easier decision for the driver, and for the preservation of those that might not want to be a part of your heroics should things go wrong, by a simple push of a button you can change the adaptive damping characteristics in the AMG Drive Unit or by using the AMG Dynamic Select drive modes.

Five are available: “Comfort”, “Sport”, “Sport Plus”, “Individual” and “Race”.

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The purpose of each of these settings is obvious, “Comfort” for public roads, and “Sport” and “Sport Plus” for some track work, “Individual” can be anything you want it to be, and “Race” is best left to the professionals and getting the car off the line in the fastest way possible.

The standard three-stage ESP offers further peace of mind and optimisation, with the settings “ESP On”, “ESP Sport Handling Mode” and “ESP Off” working in perfect unison with the limited-slip differential.

It is optimally tuned for outstanding driving dynamics, and the programming for the “ESP Off” mode is taken from the AMG GT3 race car.

I was never going to abuse the car and try and emulate a few Nurburgring lap records. I wouldn’t be able to as my talent does not stretch that far, and I really didn’t feel like writing out a R2.8 million cheque to MercedesBenz SA for writing off their car.

So, I used “Race” mode, ESP in the “ESP Sport Handling Mode” and the seven-speed double clutch gearbox in auto shifting mode, and let the car and its clever electronics give me the best straight-line performance figures to bring to you from Gerotek.

And, man, this GT R was fast.

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The benchmark 0-100km/h time came up in a 3.54 seconds, the quarter mile in 11.29 seconds at 211km/h, the half mile in 17.48 seconds at 253km/h and the 1km run in 20.18 seconds at a crazy 266km/h, while the top speed comes in at a smidgeon under 320km/h.

For a rear wheel driven car that is not the most powerful in its class, but it sure makes good use of its track derived aids and power.

Stopping, which is important, if you go fast, is also fuss free thanks to the optional ceramic high-performance composite brake system.

Inside you get manually adjustable bucket seats and most of the other basic luxury you could want in a car like this.

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This is an uncompromising machine, and is firm with a capital F, fast with a capital F, and it is also fun with a capital F.

It is also something you really would like to own if you could afford it.

Road Test Data

  • Gearbox: 7 Speed AMG SpeedShift DCT Transmission
  • Engine: 4.0 litre V8 Bi-Turbo
  • Power: 430 kW @ 5 500 rpm
  • Torque: 700 Nm @ 2 500-4 500 rpm
  • Licensing Mass: 1 630 kg
  • Power to Weight: 264 kW/Ton
  • Power to Capacity: 108 kW/Litre
  • 0-100 km/h: 3.54 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile (402.34 m): 11.29 Seconds @ 211.43 km/h
  • 1/2 Mile (804.68 m): 17.48 Seconds @ 253.57 km/h
  • 1 Km (1000 m): 20.18 Seconds @ 266.67 km/h
  • 60-100 km/h: 1.94 Seconds (in 3rd Gear) / 2.47 Seconds (in 4th Gear)
  • 80-120 km/h: 2.41 Seconds (in 4th Gear) / 3.03 Seconds (in 5th Gear)
  • 100-200 km/h: 6.51 Seconds (from 3rd Gear)
  • True Top Speed: 319.97 km/h @ 6 600 rpm in 7th (Clock 321 km/h)
  • Fuel Consumption: 11.4 litres/100 km Claimed (15.9 litres Test Average)
  • Fuel Tank Size: 75 litres
  • Fuel Range: 658 km Claimed (472 km on Test)
  • CO2 Emissions: 259 g/km
  • Vehicle Odometer: 11 306 Km
  • Test Temperature: 6 Degrees
  • Tyres Size: 275/35 R19 Front / 325/20 R20 Rear
  • Tyres Make: Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2
  • Warranty: 2 Year/Unlimited Km
  • Service / Maint Plan: 6 Year/100 000 Km Maintenance Plan
  • Priced From: R2 822 039
  • Test Date: July 23 2018

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