Driven: 2017 Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster/GT C Roadster

Driven: 2017 Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster/GT C Roadster

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster is fast, expensive, and sexy. I could stop right there, because that summarizes this brand-new Mercedes-Benz better than anything else.

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster comes highly recommended | Mercedes-AMG photos

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster comes highly recommended | Mercedes-AMG photos

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster is fast, expensive, and sexy. I could stop right there, because that summarizes this brand-new Mercedes-Benz better than anything else.

The hood stretches a veritable mile in front of the cockpit. The rump is nicely rounded. The twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V- delivers a whopping 469-horsepower, or 550 hp in the range-topping GT C Roadster model.

Competing against everything from the Jaguar F-Type and Porsche 911 to the Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin Vantage V8, the AMG GT Roadster straddles the line between everyday sports car, and special occasion supercar. Mercedes-Benz USA had not announced pricing at the time of our test drive in Arizona. However, an estimated starting price of $130,000 for the GT Roadster and $150,000 for the GT C is a safe bet, in our estimation.

Yellow was popular color with most writers on the test drive

Yellow was popular color with most writers on the test drive

Is it worth it?

Based purely on looks, it’s hard to argue Mercedes didn’t do a tremendous job of making the AMG GT more jaw-dropping by chopping the top. Ironically, from this journalist’s point of view, the exaggerated proportions share more in common with the classic Jaguar E-type than does Jaguar’s own contemporary F-Type coupe and roadster. During our test drive, most of the gathered journalists flocked to drive (and photograph) a bright-yellow example, or another finished in a menacing matte-grey hue.

Color preference is highly subjective, but the deep shade of blue on “our” GT Roadster – in which we spent most our driving day – was the perfect blend of flashiness, with just a smidgen of tasteful restraint. Not that you’ll be holding back when behind the wheel, because even the base GT Roadster is a prolific performance machine, one that sprints from 0 to 60 miles per hour in an estimated 3.9 seconds.

The GT C variants trims a few tenths off that time but, if we’re being honest, that model’s extra 81 horsepower isn’t needed (and it’s going to be rarely missed if you’re driving on public roads, versus a race track).

Car among the cacti

Car among the cacti

Mercedes did an excellent job of reinforcing the chassis, without adding tons of extra weight. The GT Roadster is about 120 pounds heftier than the coupe, while the harder-edged GT C checks in at less than 80 pounds heavier. During a full day of driving, over roads that ranged from arrow-straight highways to some truly hair-raising, hairpin-filled back roads, the AMG GT Roadster never shuddered or exhibited the tiniest trace of chassis looseness.

In fact, the car remained rock-solid and eerily glued to the road, to the point where you know tire-squealing heroics are impossible at anything remotely close to legal’ish driving behavior. The handling is sharp and dialed into the road surface, though it doesn’t overwhelm you with jittery feedback. If that’s what you want, the wonderfully wild and hyper-active Alfa Romeo 4C roadster is the car for you.
You can control the 7-speed automatic with paddle-shifters mounted onto the steering wheel, or leave it to its own devices. Shifts are rapid, but never rushed or clunky. It’s worth noting that the GT C model uses dynamic engine and transmission mounts, borrowed from the track-inspired GT R variant. They work wonders, but even the standard GT Roadster buffers out any shudders or shakes from the drivetrain.

Unlike the AMG GT Coupe, which left me underwhelmed in terms of its overall engine and exhaust note, the Roadster sounds meaner, more aggressive, and with more rumble coming from its mechanical lungs. Of course, this is likely caused by there being nothing between your ears and the engine note when punching the gas with the top down.

Incidentally, the top is extremely taut and exceptionally sound-proof when up. On a sunny day, it’s usually considered sacrilegious to drive a convertible like this with the top in the fixed position. Then again, 5+ hours under an Arizona sun proves that sunscreen (and human endurance) does have its limits. The top can be raised or lowered in only 11 seconds, at speeds up to 31 miles per hour.

The cockpit

The cockpit

The cabin is almost identical to what you’ll find in the AMG GT Coupe. A large center console is the dominating feature that, despite its bulk, does a fine job of putting all major controls where you want them. There is an exception, and that’s with the dainty level for the gearshift. It’s too far back on the console and, compared to the much larger control for the infotainment system, looks almost like a sad afterthought. You get used to it, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be improved.

As a whole, the AMG GT Roadster is another fantastic entry into the widening world of near-exotic sports cars. You have supercar pace and design, at a price that’s slightly more realistic than rivals from Ferrari, Bentley, Lamborghini etc. A Porsche 911 seems a natural target, though the Porsche seems positively restrained compared to this Mercedes AMG. The Jaguar F-Type is awfully close in terms of performance and panache, while also ringing in towards the lower-end of the AMG’s [estimated] price range.

Really, it’s hard to go wrong in this company. To quote Ferris Bueller, “If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

Profile: Top down

Profile: Top down

Nick Kurczewski
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