This is not your father’s Mercedes. Unless of course your father is a well-heeled fan of horrifically fast GTs that you can daily drive. The truth is, this is as far removed from most peoples’ impression of what a Mercedes is as to need a separate nameplate. Almost. While it follows the long hood, short deck template of its predecessor AMG SLS, the GTS has a more organic look to the greenhouse, and ditches the former’s gullwing doors and fixed spoiler for conventional doors and a speed-activated spoiler.
The heart of any AMG is its hand-assembled motor, and here the GTS does not disappoint. In this case, a 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8 rated at 503hp and 479lb-ft motivates the 3,700lb auto with gusto. Understatement intentional - 0-60 happens in 3.7 seconds, assisted by launch control. That time puts the car in pretty rare company, and provides a real shove into the seatback. The soundtrack is subdued with a muted baritone, unless the electronic exhaust cutout mode is engaged then it’s punctuated with a raspy burble that will turn pedestrians’ heads and scare little dogs. To some it might seem out of character for a Mercedes, but as a fast GT car it somehow all works.
The cockpit is cozy with the wide transmission tunnel a holdover from the SLS. The seats’ bolsters aren’t imposing and do an admirable job keeping one’s posterior in place during aggressive cornering, but their paucity of padding might make long road trips less desirable. Outward visibility is somewhat limited by thick A-pillars, a long hood and low windshield header. Focusing inside, the console contains a control for AMG’s Dynamic Select system which adapts throttle mapping, gear changes, suspension setup, and exhaust sound for three different modes - Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. A fourth mode for Individual allows a separate mode to be created. Other console buttons control these features individually.
Mundane details aside, this is a car that will happily idle around town without complaint, but the moment you hit the on ramp and put your foot into it the acceleration is explosive. Its 7-speed dual-clutch trans is faultless as it rips off shift after shift while the sound from the 4-liter is goosebump-inducing with the exhaust in sport mode. You might find yourself looking for tunnels and overpasses to drive through just to hear that sound reverberate off the walls. (Not that I’d know about that, mind you) In aggressive maneuvering body roll is virtually nonexistent and the car feels very composed due to the huge amount of grip. You’d probably need to track the car to get near its limits. That said, those big tires do generate a bit of road noise at speed, and combined with the exhaust note (even on the quieter setting) leaves no question about its sporting nature. The fix? Turn up that $4,500 Burmester surround audio system and plug in a CD of Wagner’s Die Walkure. I can’t think of a more fitting soundtrack for a German muscle car.
Photos: Alan Wilzig