Road tests 24.1.2018 10:00 am

ROAD TEST: Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

ROAD TEST: Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

At an eye-watering price of around R2.7 million, it is something for a select few.

Heap praise upon the new Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster and cynics will say that Merc has been playing catch up with the likes of Porsche, Audi and BMW forever.

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And in some small way they might be right. Previous attempts at a really fast and dynamic, roadster/convertible/cabriolet did not put Mercedes at the top of the pile, but now I think you can buy an AMG product that is every bit as good as anything their competitors have to offer in the same category.

Not too long ago, MercedesAMG brought the world the hardcore, track focused AMG GT R, which, by the way, we hope to be able to test in February, and then they unleashed the AMG GT Roadster, and the even more hardcore version, the AMG GT C Roadster we have on test here.

“With our two Roadster models, we are strategically expanding the AMG GT family by two exciting variants. “With the AMG GT C Roadster, we are also introducing a new model variant to which we have transferred main performance-related components from our top sports car, the AMG GT R. “The result is a highly dynamic driving experience in a very exclusive ambience, coupled with that pure roadster feeling,” says Tobias Moers, chairperson of Mercedes AMG GmbH.

And the “C” is not just a letter stuck on the rear of this sports car for fun.

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It basically explains to the more informed petrol head that this particular roadster steals a good few technical refinements from the so-called “Beast of the Green Hell” – the AMG GT R.

Getting through the “Green Hell” in just 7 minutes 10.9 seconds, the Mercedes-AMG GT R was faster than any other road-going sports car ever tested at the time, and more than lived up to its name, and this says plenty about the dynamics of the car at the same time.

Items such as active rear axle steering and the electronically-controlled rear axle-locking differential, along with an AMG Ride Control sports suspension, the AMG GT C Roadster guarantees dynamic performance at the highest level.

Perhaps the only complaint one could have is that for every day use, the suspension is perhaps a bit firm, even in comfort mode.

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But come on, who spends R2.7 million on a very specific car, and then complains that it might be a bit firm?

And the person who has this kind of cash will be guaranteed to have a more “bread and butter” car or two in the garage for mundane every day tasks anyway.

So, if you want to go really fast, then you will know what you are buying, and happily live with the firm suspension.

It doesn’t end there though, also straight from the AMG GT R playbook are the muscular proportions of wider rear fenders that allow for massive 305/30 20- inch rear tyres and a wider track, that once again are all about allowing higher cornering speeds and impressive traction for a rear wheel driven car.

At the heart of this drop top beast is the now familiar 4.0-litre V8 biturbo AMG engine that produces the grumpiest sounding 410 kW, along with a maximum torque of 680 Nm that is available all the way from 1 900 to 5 750 rpm.

So rapid acceleration is just a prod of the accelerator pedal away.

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Keep it there for a few seconds on a public road and serious jail time awaits you before you have even reached the highway. And should you want to get serious at the traffic lights, then you can simply turn AMG Drive Select dial to ‘Race’ and make use of the ‘Race Start’ function.

This sees the seven-speed double clutch gearbox dial in a fistful of revs, before you simply release the brake and bullet towards the horizon without any tyre smoking drama.

A special not for the hooligans, you can switch all the nannies off, and leave large, expensive black lines all over the road if you choose show over go.

As you can see from the detailed road test data attached, the 0-100 km/h test is done in a mere 3.64 seconds, the quarter mile done in 11.59 seconds at over 200 km/h, the 1km mark is crossed just short of 260 km/h, with the top speed only stopping at 314 km/h.

Not slow in anybody’s books, especially for a roadster that you can use to cruise around the suburbs on a Sunday with the top down at 60 km/h.

Probably just as important as the on road performance numbers is the fact that you can transform your roadster into a coupe and back into a roadster in around 11 seconds at speeds of up to 50km/h.

The fabric roof, that comes in three different colours – black, red and beige – can be chosen to suit the 11 exterior and 10 interior colours.

The interior is all about the driver, and his or her passenger.

This is not a family car, this is a selfish indulgence.

BMW has no real car in this segment, Audi has the R8 Spyder V10 at R2 920 700, and Porsche has the 911 Turbo S Cabriolet that comes in at R3 429 000.

A very elite bunch, but the Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster would get my vote.

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