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Million-dollar Mercedes GT R hits the streets

The latest model is Mercedes-AMG's fastest sports car - and probably its most expensive.

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Sepang, Malaysia

MOVE over, Maserati. Mercedes-AMG has just launched the GT R, its quickest sports car and very likely the most expensive model within Mercedes' growing family.

Unveiled at the Sepang F1 Circuit on Nov 2, the car is priced only "upon application" in Singapore. But given how it's priced overseas, it will cost at least S$900,000 here, including COE.

Currently, the most expensive Mercedes is the Maybach S 600, a luxury limousine that sells for S$798,888 with COE.

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Mercedes-AMG, the high-performance branch of the Mercedes product clan, is currently on a hot streak both on and off the race track.

In Formula One racing, its driver Lewis Hamilton recently took the drivers' championship. On the road, 2016 saw record sales of 99,235 units sold worldwide, a 44.1 per cent increase from 2015.

That was a key factor in parent brand Mercedes-Benz delivering a total of 2,083,888 cars in 2016 to become the top luxury automaker globally. It's a feat set to repeat itself as it kicked off the fourth quarter of 2017 with a new sales record.

But Mercedes-AMG is not banking on million-dollar models to deliver sales. In May, the sub-brand unveiled in Sepang its more affordable "43" range of vehicles. They offer less power, but their prices start at roughly one-third of the new GT R.

Brands like these need their halo models, however, and the 585 horsepower GT R is just the start. A more extreme version, the AMG GT Black Series, has already been spied under development, and that model might easily cost more than a million dollars in Singapore.

But another car, arriving in 2019, is even more extreme. Described as a F1 car for the road, the forthcoming Project One is said to be based closely on the machine Hamilton drove to win his title.

In spite of a rumoured price of US$2.7 million (S$3.7 million) before taxes or import duty, the planned production run of 270 units has already been sold out worldwide. At least three are bound for South-east Asia.

"There're a few sold in the region, I can't disclose the exact number, but there is at least one each in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia," said Mark Rainne, vice-president of sales and marketing for Mercedes-Benz Malaysia and South-east Asia.

At this stratospheric level, competition for buyers is intense. Aston Martin's Valkyrie touts a similar pricing and performance as the Project One, and two have been pre-ordered in Singapore. McLaren has a similar supercar in the works.

But the AMG's appeal lies in its direct link to F1 technology. "I think it's something nobody else has done. It's an F1 car that's street-legal. It has a turbo V6, 1,000hp, four electric motors. It's mind-blowing, and very exciting," said Mr Rainne. "Even for us."

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