Mercedes GT R brings a little Green Hell to Goodwood
From the Nürburgring, to Brooklands, and on to Goodwood, the Mercedes-AMG GT R debuts as a fully optimized weapon for tracks around the world. Mercedes promises that the 577-hp (430-kW) car is packed with more motorsport-inspired tech than any other production car in its history. And just in case that's not enough to get everyone's attention, the "Green Hell magno" paint should do the trick.
One of the big debuts at this weekend's Goodwood Festival of Speed, the GT R (not to be confused with the Nissan GT-R) is heavily influenced by racing and track. Mercedes performed much of its testing and tweaking on Germany's famed Nürburgring Nordschleife, and experience from the AMG GT3 played a role in GT R development. Mercedes promises a driving experience that combines the "driving dynamics of our AMG GT3 racing car with the everyday practicality of the AMG GT."
The GT R becomes the third member of the GT family and a natural flagship. A new pair of turbochargers mounted in "hot inside V" configuration, engine remapping and other measures increase the output of the front-mid-mounted 4.0-liter V8 biturbo to 577-hp, a 74-hp bump from the GT S. That engine has 516 lb-ft (700 Nm) of torque and works with a track-optimized AMG Speedshift DCT 7 seven-speed transaxle gearbox and a traction-boosting electronically controlled limited slip differential.
The standard dynamic engine and transmission mounts adjust in stiffness to offer a combination of soft vibration and noise dampening at lower speeds and better handling and agility at higher speeds. These are quite similar to what we recently looked at in the new Koenigsegg Regera.
Around the beating V8 heart of the GT R, Mercedes has mixed up materials to save weight. It explains that the design uses a weight-optimized space frame; carbon fiber roof, body elements and torque tube; various aluminum alloys; and magnesium in the front deck. Curb weight slides in at 3,428 lb (1,555 kg), a drop from the the GT S' 3,461 lb (1,570 kg), which isn't bad considering the added equipment and power.
The most interesting piece of that "added equipment" is probably the new rear-wheel steering system making the GT R the latest high-performance four-wheel steerer, a prestigious designation also held by new cars like the Ferarri F12tdf, BMW Alpina B7 and Lamborghini Centenario.
Mercedes' active rear-wheel steering system replaces the rear-axle control arms with two electro-mechanical, steer-by-wire actuators that offer up to 1.5 degrees of movement. Up to speeds of 62 mph (100 km/h), the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels to improve cornering and make steering more effortless. Above 62 mph, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the fronts to improve stability. Couple that system with the speed-sensitive, variable-ratio steering, and the driver should be able to rely on precise levels of response and control, no matter what the speed.
Heavily influenced by the track, the GT R's front and rear double-wishbone suspension features specially developed coil-overs with manual spring pre-load adjustment for tuning the ride to the driver's specific preferences. AMG's Ride Control continuously variable, adaptive damping system, meanwhile, electronically adjusts damping at each wheel based on current speed, road and handling conditions. The driver can influence the damping adjustment with a touch of a button or via the three drive modes (comfort, sport, sport plus) of the AMG Dynamic Select system.
A new, GT3-derived traction control system offers nine levels of slip for the rear driven wheels, adjustable via a dial in the center console. The system allows for slip up to the designated level, then modulates engine output to ensure it doesn't surpass that level. This system is especially helpful in helping the driver get the optimal torque and power when accelerating out of a turn.
Outside of the bright green paint, the most visible part of the "GT R" package is the advanced, motorsport-inspired aerodynamics kit that includes the big, manually adjustable rear wing and double diffuser. But not all of the GT R's aero upgrades are visible to the casual onlooker. One of the biggest additions is an active underbody system mounted in front of the engine. It relies on a carbon element to reposition at speeds of 50 mph (80 km/h, in race mode), increasing the car's grip and reducing front axle lift. Mercedes promises that the driver will notice the effects of the system in the form of precise steering, sharp cornering and directional stability.
The GT R also includes auto-adjusting louvres behind the front fascia. These remain closed by default, lowering drag and directing airflow to the underbody to reduce front lift. When certain components reach a predefined temperature and demand added cooling, the louvres open up to deliver the needed air.
At the end of the day, Mercedes says the GT R's advanced aerodynamics package results in 342 lb (155 kg) more surface contact at top speed than the AMG GT while also lowering drag coefficient.
In terms of bottom line performance, all of those many improvements around and under the GT R's skin help drop acceleration to 3.6 seconds (from the GT S' 3.8) for the 0-62 mph sprint and raise the top speed to 198 mph (318 km/h, up from 193 mph/310 km/h in the GT S). Those are nice improvements, but it sounds like the real thrill will be less in unleashing that speed and quickness all at once and more in managing it while negotiating the bends and twists of a track or country road.
The debut GT R's "Green Hell magno" paint definitely helps in distinguishing it from other GT models, but the new model will look the part no matter what paint it's wearing. The more aggressive front-end design, with its GT3 car-derived "AMG Panamericana" grille, puts a little fear into everyone around, gnashing teeth nearly as violently as the Kahn Design Vengeance. The jet engine-inspired air intakes flanking that grille are ready to send cooling airflow to the GT R drive system. The front fascia design also has a front splitter and side air curtains.
Moving back, stretched front and rear tracks rest below widened fenders, and new, lower side sill panels lend it a new profile look. The debut car rides on the optional GT R-exclusive AMG Performance 10-spoke, lightweight forged wheels in matte black, 10.0 J x 19 ET56 up front and 12.0 J x 20 ET52 in back. Those wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, sized 275/35 ZR 19 at the front and 325/30 ZR 20 out back. The air outlets behind the front tires also have a revised look.
The rear-end has more comprehensive venting, including a thin outlet between the taillights, and a centralized, triple-outlet exhaust inside the double diffuser. Those exhaust tips are hooked to a lightweight AMG performance sports exhaust with infinitely variable flaps altering the throaty soundtrack based on selected drive mode or manual open/close selection.
Inside, the GT R features a simple but premium race-inspired design with lightweight, manually adjustable AMG sports bucket seats trimmed in leather and microfiber (AMG performance seats are available for no extra cost). The standard "Interior Night" package dresses components like the shift paddles and door sills in high-gloss black, blending seamlessly with the standard AMG Interior Piano Lacquer package encompassing other components.
Mercedes-AMG debuted the GT R on Friday at the Brooklands racing circuit before sending it on to another historical British racing venue at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The new car will go on sale on November 21.