The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R Is a $157,000 Street-Legal Race Car
Photograph by Mercedes
This latest lightning coupe from Affalterbach, Germany will re-arrange your face
Mercedes-AMG wants to torture you. “It is as much racing technology as we’ve ever put into a street legal car,” we were told before hopping in the low seat of the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R. Fork over a wallet-friendly $157,000 to start, and the high-performance car can practically make you levitate with the ability to hit 198 fast-as-hell-miles-per-hour, thanks to a twin turbo 4.0-liter V-8. You get 577 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of thrust to take speeding down the open road—if you can find one.
The starting point for our 100-mile joyride: a parking garage on the west side of Manhattan. From there we inched our way through and out of the city to our destination of Lime Rock Park in Connecticut to watch some real race cars take to the track. The most surprising part of the drive in the active rear-wheel GT R was the way it handled: nice and easy in Comfort mode, which was quick to access on the console.
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On the way back to the city we hit some light rain and a detour that had us crawling on Highway 22 and through residential roads. After a reroute through the country we drove through the scenic Saw Mill Parkway and tested the speed wherever traffic allowed it. The route later took us through pedestrian-filled streets, putting the ceramic brakes to the test (which also help make the GT R only 3,428 pounds), and a quick jaunt along the Henry Hudson before returning to the Mercedes garage. The train ride back home never felt so wrong.
LOOK AT THAT:
“Sick car, dude,” one guy told us while we were stuck in a crowd of people, windows down, trying to find a parking spot. During the drive, an SUV passed us and a man in the back seat took photos of our aerodynamic ride while we were cruising down the highway. And I don’t blame him. We skipped the new racing-inspired Green Hell Magno color at the dealership and went directly for the GT R in classic red. It still stood out on the pavement, though, with the sexy chrome Panamericana grille, wide carbon fiber fenders, and the spoiler at the rear.
DON’T LOOK AT THIS:
If there are flaws in the GT R’s design, it mostly depends on your experience with being close to the ground: navigating tight corners with a car worth more than my life proved slightly difficult, even with a passenger keeping an eye on things. The spoiler, while not completely obstructing the view, didn’t help when I wanted to know what I was backing into, though it’s easy to see what’s behind in the front display panel. And trying to put the car in reverse took a few tries almost every time.
COCKPIT AND CABIN:
The GT R’s exterior exudes pure sports car good looks, but it’s the interior detailing in the cabin and cockpit that really sell you, with Nappa leather and microfiber features (soft steering wheel FTW!). Two AMG Performance seats come standard and felt comfortable enough for our day on the road, though I still prefer to sit up a little higher when I’m driving for that long. A button under the steering wheel opened the hatch, which could easily fit a bag or two, and the rest of the controls were straightforward to use, including the easy-to-reach paddle shifters behind the wheel. And red seat belts popped against the rest of the interior and made a strong case for shelling out an extra 500 bucks (when you’re spending this much on a coupe, you have enough to spare). The seat position easily adjusted and offered the right amount of space behind the steering wheel.
That feeling when your foot lays into the pedal. Driving a high-performance sports vehicle has never exactly been my thing. Unless you count what I called “The Spaceship,” a Mitsubishi Sport I got from my great-grandfather that’d shake anywhere over 60, then sure. Testing something that could hit 60 in under 3.5 seconds felt like a joke in traffic or low speed zones. But even in a crawl, just knowing that I could fly by everyone with that insane 577-horsepower was almost as good as the real thing. The GT R offers a variety of driving modes, from the drive-anywhere Comfort mode, to Sport and Sport+ and Race modes, which set you up for hitting the empty pavement like you’re a pro.
The spoiler? Looks cool in photos, not so much in the rearview mirror. (Though the downforce it imparts is quite welcome.) And the nav system wouldn’t stop recalculating, and recalculating, and recalculating.
Mercedes-AMG knows how to make a beautiful, powerful beast, and its newest offerings, including the 2018 GT C Roadster, further prove it. Invest in the new GT R and you might not get a chance to experience all its tech right away, especially if you’re taking it through rush hour traffic. And aside from the high price tag, it’ll never drag you down—it’s a damn blast.
Cargo Capacity: C
Lust Factor: A+
Get your wallet ready.
Price: Starts at $157,000
Powertrain: Biturbo 4.0 V-8; 577 horsepower; 516 lb-ft of torque; 0-60 in 3.5 seconds
Fuel Economy: Not yet announced, but who cares when you’re able to fly on the ground?
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