Article by Rick Jensen. Images by Mercedes-Benz Worldwide.
If you were one of the many enthusiasts who drooled over the outgoing SLS AMG supercar, then sulked after eyeballing its stratospheric, $200,000-plus price tag, then 2016 is your lucky year, plebe.
That’s because Mercedes-Benz—the humorless, anal grandparent of the motoring world, has once again let its testosterone-fueled AMG stepchild off the leash, and the result is the powerful 2016 AMG GT and GT S sports cars.
And here’s where it gets interesting: the GT won’t be another huge-dollar supercar like the SLS. Instead, AMG was tasked with building a more modest, $100,000-range sports car to compete with the likes of the Porsche 911 and the Audi R8. And while a barely six-figure car will no doubt be looked down upon by those Rich Kids Of Instagram rapscallions, us regular Joes are only two or three mortgage refis away from owning this honest-to-Karl baby SLS.
The question is: After seeing it, will you want to buy it?
During development, AMG used the SLS as an overall starting point for the new car. The AMG GT retains the aluminum frame, never-ending hood, laid-back windshield and compact cabin of the SLS. But the SLS’s sharp lines and gullwing doors have been smoothed into softer curves and standard doors. Interestingly, while there’s definitely SLS DNA here, the sloping roof and rear glass leaves the back half of the AMG GT looking more like a 911, and the front looking a little like James Bond’s classic Aston Martins. Not exactly trailblazing styling, but then the SLS never had a functioning trunk for your Wally World runs, either.
Power comes by way of two new, 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8s: a base engine that puts out 456 horses at 6000 rpm and 443 pound-feet of torque from 1600-5000 rpm, and the AMG GT S’s uplevel engine with 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Both engines use dry-sump lubrication, and both will send power rearward through a seven-speed dual clutch automatic. With an estimated curb weight of 3,400 to 3,600 pounds, performance is said to be sub-4-second 0-60, with a top speed around 190 mph.
AMG’s hand-built engines are always interesting, but of particular interest are these new engines’ "hot V” turbo locations. Basically, they place the two turbos between the cylinder heads to provide more efficient engine packaging, and to also give heterosexual males yet another fantastic sexual metaphor.
Consider the capable suspension, massive brakes and sticky tires, and there’s no doubt that the AMG GT will be a powerful and capable sports car. However, it remains to be seen if it can build up a rabid fan base to sustain its production targets—something Porsche excels at thanks to its otherworldly performance and handsome styling. To me, the halo SLS had sharp yet not quite grand slam styling. Add in the fact that Mercedes was quick to use the SLS design language on more attainable models like the SL—and the not-quite-baked results turned off more than a few potential buyers—and it just might affect base AMG GT sales. That’s my line anyway, but what do you think?
Regardless, get ready to vote with your wallets: the base AMG GT goes on sale in early 2016, and the faster AMG GT S hits our shores in early 2015. Start refinancing now.