The Mercedes GT AMG, the manufacturer's new 500bhp-plus V8-powered sportscar, is in the final phase of testing. The public debut of the rear-wheel-drive coupé is planned for the Paris motor show in October. The new Merc is set to go on sale next year.
The new GT will be priced to compete directly against the likes of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and Porsche 911 Carrera S. The GT indirectly replaces the SLS at the very top of the Merc line-up, where it will act as a styling and performance figurehead for the rest of the carmaker’s line-up.
The GT is scheduled to be produced over a six-year period through to 2020.
At launch, the GT will offer close to 520bhp, giving it a clear power advantage over both the V8 Vantage (420bhp) and 911 Carrera S (395bhp). However, there are also plans to launch a milder version with about 480bhp in 2016.
The basis for the GT is a modified version of the SLS’s aluminium body structure. Manufactured by Magna in Graz, Austria, it has been extensively reworked for the new two-seater.
Mercedes-Benz’s head of design, Gorden Wagener, has closely overseen the styling of the new car. He has described the GT as being much more contemporary in appearance than the SLS, with sharper detailing, tauter surfacing treatment and a generally more structured look that will influence the styling of other future Mercedes-Benz models.
The overall proportions of the GT are very similar to those of the SLS, with a long, probing nose, a cabin set well back within the wheelbase and a stubby rear. The intention is to provide clear links with some of Mercedes-Benz’s most revered sportscars. Dimensionally, the GT and SLS are very similar. Nothing is official, but insiders have indicated that the GT will run close to the 4640mm length, 1940mm width and 1260mm height of the SLS.
However, there are clear differences between the two. Unlike the SLS's heavy gulllwing doors, the GT has more conventional front-hinged doors in a move that is claimed to both streamline assembly and provide the new car with a significantly lower centre of gravity thanks to a much lighter roof structure. A further significant change is the adoption of a liftback-style tailgate in place of the boot used by the SLS. The new layout, a first on a Mercedes sports car, is aimed at improving everyday practicality.
Unlike the SLS, which is made in coupé and roadster body styles, the GT is set to be produced exclusively as a coupé.
Inside, there is a snug, two-seat interior with a layout that, Wagener said, has been heavily influenced by aircraft cabin design. The dashboard progresses the look and layout seen on the SLS with a combination of bespoke instruments and controls taken from other Mercedes-Benz models, most notably those of the new C-class.
The GT will be the first Merc model to be powered by AMG’s new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine, the ‘M177’, as it is codenamed. The aluminium unit is also scheduled to be used in the successor to the C63 AMG.
The new V8 shares its modular construction with AMG’s ‘M133’ turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine, which powers the A45, CLA45 and recently introduced GLA45. Details remain scarce, but sources close to the German carmaker say that it will support a number of different outputs, ranging from 480bhp to more than 580bhp. The initial model is set to offer about 520bhp – some 50bhp less than the naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 used by the SLS. But with forced induction helping to swell reserves at lower revs, the new engine is set to produce considerably more torque than the SLS.
Power goes through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox mounted within the rear axle assembly. The Getrag-produced unit is carried over from the SLS but upgraded with new electronic mapping and other unspecified changes, providing what one AMG insider has described to Autocar as "faster and smoother operation under all conditions". Also included is a mechanical locking differential and the latest electronically controlled torque vectoring.
The GT will be assembled at AMG’s Affalterbach factory in Germany.