AMG’s striking new supercar
It takes a while to strike a rhythm with AMG’s newest supercar. But once that happens, the rewards are immense
As I glance anxiously over at the string of Green Hell Magno-hued Mercedes AMG GT Rs parked in the pit lane of Portugal’s fearsome Portimão racetrack, a torrent of insecurities races through my mind. The most hard-core of all Benzes channels a potent 430kW through only its rear wheels. And it’s raining. Properly bucketing down. I’m not convinced I have the driving talent to exploit the latest AMG supercar in these conditions… For a split-second, I consider removing the helmet and politely apologising to the Germans assembled next to the line-up of cars for my lack of courage before running into the hills. But then the voice of multiple DTM racing champ (and today’s driving instructor) Bernd Schneider crackles over the two-way radio … and we’re off. Before the end of lap one – which was supposed to be an introduction to the track taken at a measured pace – I’ve been left behind by Bernd.
I occasionally catch sight of his Benz as it crests a hill before it dips into a riot of zigzags. Three laps later, we pull into the pit lane. Despite a bitterly cold wind, sweat has soaked through my shirt and my right leg is shaking.
The pace was astonishing, but that, plus my lack of knowledge of Portimão’s technically challenging layout and the GT R’s raw nature, meant my time on the track passed in a blur of arm twirls and clumsy jabs at the brake pedal.
I decide to change tack and ask the AMG boffins whether I could take a GT R on a drive of the surrounding countryside. They happily oblige and soon the AMG and I comfortably weave a rhythm. Benz has completely reworked the suspension – it’s now a race-car-inspired coil-over system – and it shows. Where lesser GTs buck and weave on undulating surfaces, the GT R finds incredible traction. It matches that with searing pace (three-figure speeds are reached in a mere 3.6 seconds) and a ferocious V8 soundtrack accented with pops and bangs so intense they reverberate through the super-stiff structure.
“I feel like I’ve learnt little about the car, the track environment proving deprived of the normal sensory cues present on a public road.”
Two hours later, I stop back at the racetrack. This time, my shirt is dry and the earlier frown has been replaced with a smile as broad as the R2.7-million GT R’s toothy Panamericana grill. What a car. mercedes-amg.com
Credits: Photos: Supplied, Text: Terence Steenkamp