How many times have we yearned for a manufacturer to go toe-to-toe with the all-round brilliance of Porsche’s 911, only to blink at zero hour? Lotus tried the 2+2 package with the Evora but chose dynamics over usability, Audi went similarly mid-engined but two seats-only with the R8, and Aston’s gorgeous Vantage was priced above but performed below Stuttgart’s finest.
Oh, for a best-of-all worlds contender! Now Mercedes is stepping up to the challenge, preparing its own £80k, 2+2 sports coupe: the GT AMG.
Rather than replacing the loveable but heavy SLS supercar, the GT sits a rung below in the sports car hierarchy, crosshairs trained on the 911 Carrera S.
Cradling a new twin-turbocharged, 4.0-litre V8 in the long nose, power easily outstrips Stuttgart’s sixes: expect 485bhp in the GT, with later ‘S’ and Black Series models boosted to 505bhp and 585bhp respectively. Forget Carreras: that’s beyond 911 Turbo S territory. And instead of pandering to AMG’s new taste for all-wheel drive, the GT will be resolutely rear-driven.
The rest of the GT’s powertrain is equally mouthwatering: a bang-up-to-date interpretation of the classic front-engined, transaxle template. The dry-sumped engine meets the rear-mounted transmission via a carbonfibre propshaft, and cog-swapping is handled by the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission already deployed in the SLS. Merc’s new nine-speed torque conveter automatic doesn’t have the necessary sporting characteristics to work in the new GT, but the existing DCT will need a few upgrades for snappier shifts if it’s to match Porsche’s ludicrously capable PDK twin-clutch transmission.
Insiders confirm the GT (internally codenamed C190) won’t get gullwing doors, though it’s underpinned by a hacked version of the the SLS’s aluminium spaceframe. Engineers are working hard to slash the SLS’s 1695kg weight, targeting the 911 S’s 1395kg.
To sidestep a family feud with the SL63 AMG and upcoming S63 AMG coupe, the GT will undercut both on price and be offered in a hard-top bodystyle only: sunseekers look elsewhere.
It’s won’t be a retro-styled muscle car either. Active aero abounds, from floor-integrated Venturi tunnels and wheelarch vents to a pop-up rear spoiler (a la 2003’s Mercedes SLR McLaren) and a ground-effect front splitter. The lightweight Black Series flagship will sprout yet more trademark carbon aero-extrusions for the proper DTM-refugee tribute act.
Disguised prototypes have already hit the road, expect a concept car in 2014 and sales in 2015. And Merc’s image to be more vibrant come 2016 – assuming the 911 doesn’t floor the GT.
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