WHAT IS IT
It’s hard to believe, but the Mercedes-AMG GT S is already three years old and needs this facelift model to keep it in line with the GT family’s newer additions; namely the GT C and GT R. The 2018 GT S gets revised front-end styling and a small performance bump to keep it fresh.
WHY WE’RE DRIVING IT
The AMG GT S has already proven itself as more than a mere boulevard cruiser, but in the midst of strengthened competition, does it still impress today like it has in the past?
THE WHEELS VERDICT
On face value, the Mercedes-AMG GT S delivers its thrills as a noisy, showy, fun-loving hoon, yet there’s a depth of engineering substance underneath. While it’s not the cosseting grand tourer you may expect, the GT S is a hugely capable performer that ticks emotional boxes like a sports car should.
PROS: Thunderous performance, almighty grip, spectacular styling, dripping with personality
CONS: Last-gen infotainment, road noise, no genuine Comfort mode
THE WHEELS REVIEW
YES, you read that right; Mercedes-AMG has updated its theatrical hot rod, the GT S.
No, you probably didn’t notice because the differences are minimal, and Affalterbach’s intramural two-seater felt as fresh beforehand as the day it launched, which – believe it or not – was almost three years ago.
But, since debuting the GT S to establish the range in Oz in 2015, Mercedes has expanded the local GT family to include another five variants, leaving the trendsetting GT S Coupe in need of a mild refresher to bring it up to speed.
It now sports AMG’s signature Panamericana grille and a lightly restyled front apron with active cooling vents. Elsewhere it’s the same dramatic beast as before; cab-backward silhouette, low roofline and a road presence that oozes menace.
Lurking beneath its long, low bonnet is AMG’s riotous, hand-built twin-turbo V8. A slight performance bump gains the dry-sump lump an extra 9kW and 20Nm, not that you’d notice in the context 384kW and 670Nm totals.
At $298,711 the GT S draws an obvious comparison with the clinically brilliant Porsche 911. The AMG lacks the 911’s ultimate steering precision and tactility, but it will slap a wicked grin across your face whether you’re absolutely nailing an apex or not.
It does that in a couple of ways. Firstly there’s its completely antisocial and wholly addictive exhaust bellow that fractures the air at a ‘can that really be legal?’ volume.
Then there’s the cabin experience that sits driver and passenger closer to the rear wheels than the fronts, which provides the sensation of the chassis pivoting around the occupants’ hip point. The hugely grippy front-end and inherently balanced chassis hunker down through corners and rocket through them with monstrous speed.
There’s a hardened attitude to the way this GT demolishes a road. It’s forever eyeing off any twisty bit of tarmac ahead. Adaptive dampers feature in the GT S (a point of difference to the sub-S GT) with three modes, though the softest of those is Comfort in name only. A resolute ride is part of its demeanour, but that lack of compliance grows tiring over long distances. Same goes for its loud tyre roar. The GT S is a sports car to the core.
AMG has nailed the emotional criteria here. The GT S looks spectacular, sounds ferocious and is made to be seen in. There’s a sense of occasion with this car that’s arguably greater than an equivalent 911, and it always feels special – whether you’ve found a road to fully let the animal off the leash or you’re simply Sunday cruising.
2018 MERCEDES-AMG GT S SPECS
Model: Mercedes-AMG GT S
Engine: 3982cc V8, dohc, 32v, twin-turbo
Max power: 384kW @ 6250rpm
Max torque: 670Nm @ 1800-5000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 3.8sec (claimed)
On sale: Now