This car is a rare thing: a convertible that’s more dynamic on the road than the coupé
I liked the Mercedes-AMG GT when it came out: as a better looking, cut-price SLS what was not to enjoy, save the omission of the gull-wing doors? Well, said many, its handling left something to be desired and at first I disagreed. I’d driven it in California and around Laguna Seca and quite liked the fact it didn’t do it all for you and kept you busy without actually trying to throw you into the Pacific. But then I drove it again, on wet UK roads and around a bumpy UK track, and thought maybe they had a point after all.
Why all this now, in a test of a GT notable not for its suspension revisions but the lack of a roof? Well, despite all the limitations of convertible design, from increased weight to decreased torsional rigidity, this was quite the nicest AMG GT I’ve driven on the road to date. And I’m still not sure why.
We’ll return to this point shortly, but for now let me provide a little detail. This is not just a roadster version of the GT, but the most powerful open GT you’ll be able to buy, at least until AMG decides whether or not to do a convertible version of the GT R track-day car. The letter ‘C’ in its title stands for nothing in particular but signifies an engine with power increased to 549bhp from the 503bhp of the next most powerful ‘S’ spec engine. The output of the GT R itself is only 28bhp stronger. The ‘C’ is available now as a roadster and will be followed shortly by a coupé. Both cars come with the wider rear track and rear-wheel steering only seen so far on the GT R, plus adaptive damping and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential in place of the purely mechanical unit available on standard and ‘S’ spec GTs.
That the car is quick will be no surprise, but the way it delivers its power was a revelation. Mercedes is admitting nothing officially, but AMG engineers will concede that it has had another look at the GT’s set up for this model year. One even admitted the cars had been softened off and was alluding, in non-specific terms, to changes made to the steering when he was called away by a PR person with an alarmed expression on her face.
So I’m afraid I don’t know what’s been done; what I do know, however, are the results. All the edginess has gone, the off-centre aggression of its steering exorcised completely. Its reactions to your inputs are now broadly linear and when you call upon its massive torque to shift the back end a touch, it doesn’t even nip, let alone bite. It just slides gracefully, consistently and reliably.
I am not used to saying that the convertible version in any given range is the choice for truly appreciative drivers, and I expect that even now that is not the case. My suspicion is that the entire GT range has this new, softer, more indulgent set-up and I just happened to discover it first in the roadster.
I hope so. I understand why AMG is coy about discussing it, because many will equate ‘softer’ with ‘less sporting’, but that need not be the case and this GT Roadster proves it. It is that very softness that makes the GT so much better to drive, roof or no roof. Here then is a ‘less is more’ approach that does Mercedes credit, even if it appears not to wish to discuss it.
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