2015 AMG GT S first drive

We throw the Porsche-baiter around Yas Marina at the 2015 AMG Performance Tour

By Shahzad Sheikh

2015 AMG GT S first drive

Yes there’s pretty much a full line-up of the glorious AMG metal at Mercedes’ annual AMG Performance Tour at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, yes that amounts to 15,300 horsepower in total and yes we usually manage to get some great opportunities to push the cars harder than we can on public roads, but I’ve done this event a few times before. So there was one reason, and one reason alone that I wanted to attend this year, and it wasn’t just for a first look at the new C63 AMG which was showcased (but not driven) there.

More on that mini-beast another time, the car that I – and I suspect you – was really interested in, and that had twin turbos embedded inside the V of the eight-cylinder powerhouse putting out 510bhp and 479lb ft of torque. It’s a car capable of 0-100kph in a jaw-dropping 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 311kph. So how was my 2015 AMG GT S first drive?

2015 AMG GT S first drive

First to note is that this was the S version, which has 48bhp and 36lb ft more than the ‘regular’ AMG GT, is two-tenths quicker and has an electronically controlled rear differential as opposed to a mechanical version, plus comes with AMG Ride Control suspension and Dynamic Plus package adding active engine and transmission mounts.

It also has bigger brakes (identified by red callipers)  and more rubber on the front (265/35 R19) and rear (295/30 R20) compared to 255/35 R19 and 295/35 R19 front and rear on the GT. Weighs about 30kg more at 1645kg – but clearly not making much of a difference in this luxury sportscar when you’re talking these kind of power figures.

2015 AMG GT S first drive

I finally got to get my grubby mitts on the car for the last session of the day, getting in around a dozen laps on the Marina section taking in the challenging but exciting corkscrew section bisecting the long straight on the north side.

I was hooked by the third lap.

I absolutely loved the old SLS – the gullwings make it a megastar – so don’t get me wrong, but it was hairy beast of a muscle car not best suited to being thrown around a track with vigour. The GT S though, completely different kettle of fish.

2015 AMG GT S first drive

The steering weight and feel start to reassure you with oodles of confidence within a lap, where the old SLS would continue to intimidate. It’s got great response, good bite at the front with a neutral turn-in. The brakes are solid, progressive and strong just when you need them to be, the performance is just ever-present on-tap, and the ride (at least on the track) was smooth and never jarring, with a very stable and flat cornering stance.

The seven-speed dual clutch transmission is quick and extremely clever, so much so that having tried it in manual with the paddles, I ended up putting it back into auto and letting it handle the duties of changing ratios it so spontaneously, intuitively and consistently got right without fail.

2015 AMG GT S first drive

Best of all though is the handling. Not just in its accuracy, grip and poise, all of which it carries in abundance, but in its playfulness. We weren’t allowed to go the whole hog and switch the drive modes into the extreme ‘Race’ setting (only on GT S) but I did get quickly out of ‘Controlled Efficiency’ (too soft, light and floppy for track work), straight past Sport and into Sport Plus.

It not only sounds utterly monstrous and evocative in that and the next (forbidden) mode, but loosens the electronic nannies up a little. The good news is that when it slides, it does so progressively, gradually, giving you enough opportunity to scoop it up and bury the throttle again out of the corner, just before it steps in itself and corrects it for you, should you have missed the moment.

2015 AMG GT S first drive

What all of this means is that this is an incredible satisfying and fun car to drive on the track – who’d have thought.

Then of course there are those gorgeous looks, fuselage like, long-bonnet, tapered and rounded rear (yes reminiscent of a 911, but who cares) that make up for the lack of the show-stopping gullwing doors. The interior too is a sensation, exquisitely finished and presented – although also the where I found my one (so far) bug bear with the car – the position of the transmission shifter is way too far back down the central console.

But talking of the 911, Mercedes has a great new advert for this car titled ‘The car you dreamed about as a child, has just been overtaken’. And you know what, they are not going to fall foul of the advertising standards authority with that bold claim at all methinks!

2015 AMG GT S first drive

2015 Mercedes AMG GT S – The Specs

Price:  AED566k ($154k)
Engine: 4.0-litre V8, 510bhp @ 6250rpm, 479lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch automatic
Performance: 0-100kph 3.8 seconds, Top Speed 310kph, 9.4L/100km
Weight: 1645kg


One response to “2015 AMG GT S first drive”

  1. Todd says:

    Yeah, but no clutch pedal, even as an option (right?). So once I’m a millionaire (ha!), still not at the top of my list.

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