The 2018 Mercedes AMG GTR is a blast from the past

Mercedes-Benz has a pedigree for building both technologically advanced and beautiful sports cars; one which dates back to their motorsports accomplishments in the 1920’s and 30’s. But Mercedes’ most iconic and loved sports car was the 1954-1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupe. By using advanced lightweight materials such as aluminum and direct fuel injection (the first production vehicle to do so), the 300SL was the “fastest car in the world” for its era.

The modern day tribute to this historic sports car is the Mercedes AMG GTR. And do I dare say that it is the most beautiful car Mercedes has made in the past 50 years? The AMG GTR’s iconic shape mirrors the silhouette of the 300 SL with a long sweeping bonnet (hood) and a tear drop shaped fastback in the rear. The GTR’s lines are sleek and seductive like the original 300 SL. The AMG GTR technically has two older brothers that share the same lineage and styling ques; the AMG GT and the AMG GTS. The AMG GTR is the range topper though with the lightest weight, most advanced technologies, more aggressive styling, and the most power. 

There are a number of innovative technologies incorporated in order to reduce weight in the car. To start, the vehicle uses a nearly all aluminum spaceframe. Unique to the AMG GTR, the vehicle also features a carbon fiber driveshaft and a carbon fiber torque tube for sending power to the rear wheels. The hood, roof, front fenders, mirrors, and rear wing are also made of carbon fiber because of its lightness and rigidity. Additional weight saving measures include a lithium-ion battery which reduces weight, and because of its compact size, can be placed in a more optimum location in order to improve balance. This reeducation of weight is important for a sports car because it increases fuel economy, improves handling, increases brake performance, and boosts acceleration times.

Under the hood of the Mercedes AMG GTR is a mid-mounted handcrafted 4.0L twin turbo V8 that pumps out 577 horsepower and 516 pounds of torque. The engine features a new “Nanoslide” cylinder wall that reduces friction and heat within the engine. It also features twin turbos that are placed directly inside the V of the engine in order to reduce turbo lag – this is a production car first even by today’s standards. The motor is paired with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission to ensure that all of your shifts are quick and perfectly matched. An electronic limited-slip differential is also included to allow you to get more grip during hard acceleration… which I know you will be doing because the AMG GTR’s exhaust is intoxicating to listen to at high RPMs. This car could have half the power and it would still be fun to drive because the snarl of the titanium exhaust system enhances every aspect of the drive experience.

In order to handle the power of the AMG GTR when approaching turns is an optional ceramic composite braking system. These high-performance brake rotors and pads are able to reduce brake fad under heavy use and they are lighter than traditional steel disc brakes. At $8,950, this was the most expensive option on my test vehicle. There is no doubt that this option enhances the vehicles performance, but unless you plan to track the GTR, I recommend saving your cash.

The AMG GTR doesn’t just look good on the outside, it feels good on the inside. My test vehicle featured synthetic Ultrasuede on the steering wheel to enhance hand grip. The steering felt tight and very precise, but gave limited feedback from the road – even in Sport+ mode. The seats are also wrapped in Ultrasuede and feature adjustable bolster support to hold you in place while corning. A rear view camera is a standard necessity because rear visibility is a challenge when backing up, but otherwise, the AMG GTR has amongst the best visibility for a sports car. The vehicle always feels high performance and sporty, but I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the car is on long trips. I made a two hours long trip in the car while I had it for a week, and experienced no backpain or fatigue whatsoever. The cabin was unusually loud for a Mercedes product, but this is both a positive and a negative. For short trips, I enjoyed hearing the engine noise and vehicle sounds because it made me feel one with the car. On long trips where I needed to take a few phone calls, I could barely hear the person on the other end; even when you quite the adjustable titanium exhaust system. In the big picture, I wouldn’t change a thing, because this is a proper sports car.

With a starting price of $157,000 ($187,765 as tested), the AMG GTR competes directly against the Porsche 911 GT3. Both are ultra high performance versions of their siblings that compete in the top level of the sports car segment. Based upon my experience earlier this year with the 911 GT3; the Porsche felt significantly faster off of the line and cornering, but this Mercedes feels infinity more special than the Porsche. The timeless design, the interior styling, and its newness make the AMG GTR the winner for Sunday joyrides with occasional track use. Plus it comes with a taste of nostalgia!