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Second-generation of AMG's flagship super sports car gets four seats and four-wheel drive

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Confirmation bias must be something that car-makers account for when they’re doing their market research - mustn’t it? 

In press material - for cars like this new Mercedes-AMG GT sports car, and so many others - the feedback of owners of the outgoing model is treated with gospel reverence. “We kept everything they liked, but also addressed every absence of failing they identified,” we’re told.

Little is said about the opinions and feedback of others. What about David, 59, from East Sussex, for instance? David liked the look of the last Mercedes-AMG GT. But, after scaring himself paler than the cream of his favourite cotton slacks when he opened up the taps on a slightly bumpy and damp B-road during a test drive, he duly decided that another Porsche 911 was in order.

David didn’t buy a Mercedes-AMG GT; and, very often when it comes to ‘discretionarily bought’ sports cars especially, I wonder if that makes his opinion mute. David’s is the money they should be bidding for, surely? But because banking on the deposit of someone with a track record of actually handing it over is a much safer bet, that’s what manufacturers so often seem to do.

This second-generation of AMG’s range-topping super sports car feels like it could have done with a bit more confirmation bias adjustment. It differs significantly from Affalterbach’s first-gen model in several quite fundamental ways. And yet, to drive, not so much.

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DESIGN & STYLING

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mercedes amg gt 63 coupe review 2024 02 side panning

Mercedes decided to marry up this car’s development with that of the ‘R232’-generation Mercedes-AMG SL roadster. While the models therefore share cabin architecture and fittings, engines, and a predominantly aluminium spaceframe chassis, you might imagine that the company would have designed and defined the cars quite differently from each other, so as to cover the biggest possible sports-car-market territory.

They didn’t. The SL sprouted a pair of occasional rear seats and 4Matic+ part-time four-wheel drive so that it could be made more usable than before; as well as firmer AMG suspension tuning so that it felt sportier.

And the GT? Much the same. The car’s old two-seat, rear-drive concept has been dispensed with; 4Matic+ four-wheel drive has been added to all models; and the better part of a foot has been added to overall length, along with around 250kg of kerbweight - the latter without counting the electrification gubbins of the new range-topping, 800-odd-horsepower, GT 63 S E Performance plug-in hybrid version.

Despite the growth spurt, there’s clear familiarity with the old car in the exterior styling of the new one. It gives the new car instant identity, even if every body panel and every detail has been altered.

At 4728mm long, 1984mm wide and 1354mm tall, the GT has grown in every direction in order to offer more interior space and accommodate those rear seats.

Engines are the same as in the SL, the GT arriving exclusively with AMG’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 in two states of tune: 469bhp and 516b ft of torque in the GT 55 (which UK buyers aren't offered), and 577bhp and 590lb ft in the GT 63 we’re driving here. There's a four-cylinder GT 43 for other markets too but, like the GT 55, UK buyers won't be offered it.

The old car's dual-clutch, rear-mounted transaxle gearbox is gone in favour of a more traditionally Mercedes layout of a 'Speedshift MCT' nine-speed wet-clutch automatic gearbox bolted directly to the engine. There are no contemporary electrification measures for most models – at least, not yet. But that’s not to say AMG hasn’t been busy attempting to improve the engine: it has repositioned the intercooler, revised the inlet and outlet ports, redesigned the oil pan and fitted additional ventilation measures for the crankcase.

All this is underpinned by aluminium-intensive five-link front and rear suspension arrangements. Like the SL, the GT gets traditional steel springs in combination with new adaptive twin-valve dampers, which offer individual compression and rebound rates.

Both the GT 55 and GT 63 have AMG’s Active Ride Control system that was pioneered by the old Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series and also features on the SL 63. This replaces the anti-roll bars completely in favour of individual oil-based actuators at each wheel to control lean. The GT also comes with four-wheel steering as standard. The system provides up to 2.5deg of steering angle to the rear wheels at speeds of up to 62mph. Furthermore, the rear axle gets an electronically controlled limited-slip differential and brake-actuated torque vectoring.

AMG’s decision to do away with the rear transaxle and mount the gearbox to the engine has also greatly altered the car’s front-to-rear weight distribution. From a previous rear-biased 47:53, it now favours the front at 54:46.

INTERIOR

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mercedes amg gt 63 coupe review 2024 13 dash

On the inside, a little of the drama and sense of occasion of the original GT has been lost. The wide, high-rising, button-festooned transmission tunnel of the old car certainly had its ergonomic quirks, but it made the GT feel special alright. It has been replaced by a lower, more practical centre console. Drive selection has been moved to a column-mounted shift wand; while all those enticing console knobs have turned into icons on the car’s large, portrait-style infotainment touchscreen.

The driving position’s fine; the tech itself familiar, and usable enough; the lashings of satin chrome and lacquered carbon decor glitters and shines nicely; and those new back seats, though very upright-of-backrest, are probably just about habitable for smaller travellers over short hops. But the ambience is just a little bit ordinary; Merc-typical rather than -extra-special.

The moderate increase in roof height has created some extra head room. Boot space is generous by sports car standards, extending from 321 to 675 litres when those back seats are folded down. 

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

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mercedes amg gt 63 coupe review 2024 23 engine

The Mercedes-AMG GT's V8 combustion engine remains wonderfully, enticingly dominant; aggressively responsive at times, and angrily potent when you dare explore its performance at revs - but mostly just a woofling, bellowing, mid-range audible treat.

Even in a heavier car, you can't argue with the performance it serves, nor the way it’s delivered, once you’re out on the open road. The GT remains both rapid and exciting to drive. There’s great response and intent from the reworked V8, which is mounted well back in the engine bay on magnetic mounts that are designed to reduce load change.

You need at least 2500rpm wound on the rev counter before the pair of twin-scroll turbochargers start to do their best work. Keep the throttle loaded and you’re treated to a truly potent surge of acceleration as the prodigious torque is unleashed through the mid-range. The V8 digs deep, growing ever more intense and characterful all the way up to its 7000rpm redline.

In any of the more sporting driving modes, each application of the throttle is accompanied by a deep rumble of the exhaust through the four rectangular tailpipes. It’s unfiltered fun, with loads of old-school internal-combustion aural charm, including loud crackles on the overrun.

The new gearbox is spectacularly good. In manual mode, its shifts are as fast and determined as those of the old dual-clutch unit, with an edge of brutality to upshifts especially; meanwhile, there’s even smoother and crisper operation than the old gearbox managed in automatic mode. The additional two gears aid the GT’s cruising abilities a little: at 80mph in ninth gear, the engine is turning over at just 1800rpm.

RIDE & HANDLING

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mercedes amg gt 63 coupe review 2024 26 front cornering

The GT’s chassis, driveline and suspension specification crams in a host of active systems, no doubt partly as a route to coping with the extra weight of the PHEV version. In addition to the four-wheel drive, there’s four-wheel steering, adaptive damping, and AMG Active Ride Control active anti-roll bars, as well as an electronic locking rear differential. Let yourself loose with the drive modes and you’ll eventually find the car’s rear-drive-only drift mode; but, more widely, AMG’s multi-function, wheel-mounted system toggle controls make it easy enough to experiment with the settings until you find a setup you like.

On British roads, you might well find plenty you don’t particularly like to begin with. The GT’s slightly wild, bad-boy muscle car character vibe is alive and well in this car, despite the overtures Mercedes has made towards improved touring manners.

The ride is always noisy, coarse over broken surfaces, and jostingly firm in any damping mode other than ‘comfort. In the sportier settings, the steering is so quick just off-centre as to test your concentration on a winding road. Because of AMG’s particularly aggressive front-axle camber choices, it’s also really positive. As you turn into a bend just a little, the front axle seems to want to turn by itself that little bit more - and then feels a bit reluctant to return to centre on the way out, generally picking up on mid-corner bumps and cambers more than you expect it to, and reacting noticeably to front-axle tractive forces.

Dial the suspension down in comfort mode and the active steering seems to calm itself a little, and the GT becomes calmer and more intuitive to drive. But it’s always a raw, reactive, vociferous and unreconstructed savage of a sports car, which dispenses with sophistication and subtlety for directness and drama wherever it can.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

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mercedes amg gt 63 coupe review 2024 01 front cornering

Mercedes UK's decision only to offer higher-end GT derivatives is likely to make this generation of the car a rarer spot, because it has the effect of raising the car's entry level price by quite a long way.

Gone are the old GT's lower-end, circa-£100,000 models. A new GT 63 becomes a £162,000 prospect before any options spend; and if you want a range-topping GT 63 S E Performance PHEV, in just the right colour and optional equipment spec, you're unlikely to get much change from £200,000 for it.

On cruising economy, our GT 63 was capable of 28mpg on more moderate motorway cruising runs; but, if you're tapping into the performance level often, don't expect much better than 22- or 23-. And, with a hybrid system designed to boost performance rather than efficiency, don't expect the GT 63 S E Performance to do a whole lot better.

VERDICT

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mercedes amg gt 63 coupe review 2024 32 front static

Now, as ever, the Mercedes-AMG GT remains the V8 hot rod wild child in the super sports car set, made to make a fast 911 seem tame; and, while it's not a complicated mission, it succeeds in doing that well enough.

Owners of the old car will certainly like the new version's enduring hot-headed dynamic temperament, and no doubt appreciate the boost to practicality and all-season usability it brings; although I'm not sure I'd be getting it out of the garage for a blast on a slippery but clear winter's morning.

Very honestly, I’m not sure that those favourite cream slacks in David’s East Sussex wardrobe have any less to fear from this car than they did from its predecessor. Now as much as ever, this super Mercedes is a car that demands your full attention, and seldom lets you relax much at the wheel. It's full on, maximum V8 volume sporting entertainment - and 'over the top' remains what it does better than almost any rival short of the mid-engined supercar class.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.