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Mercedes-AMG GT R review: Open up and say R!
DESPITE all the time we've spent trawling the roads of Europe in different cars, we'd never enjoyed the company of such a charismatic sportscar like the Mercedes-AMG GT R before.
It might have been the lurid Green Hell Magno paint that draped the bodywork, but I suspect that was merely half the appeal. The sportscar's wide body, carbon fibre roof and attack-angle-adjustable rear wing help distinguish the R from its lesser siblings.
We had no end of gawking pedestrians and drivers giving us big smiles and enthusiastic thumbs-up. That says a lot about the car, because the Germans aren't the most demonstrative people on earth.
For all the attention we were getting, we might as well have sneaked a Formula One racing car onto the streets of Stuttgart.
Mercedes-AMG's GT model is its way of firing shots at the Porsche 911, with an assortment of coupe and convertible variants to suit different driving needs, which range from posing to outright performance.
It is the latter that we intend to savour with the R.
With word of a GT "Black Series" due in 2020, the R has only a few years to enjoy top-billing as the most hardcore GT model. And if it helps, driving aficionados should think of the R as the Porsche 911 GT3 contender, versus the GT3 RS-rival that will be the Black Series.
Very few Rs have been allocated to the Singapore market, with the first car arriving only towards the end of this year.
Unlike the AMG derivatives of regular Mercedes-Benz cars, models like the GT Coupe (and Convertible) and the earlier SLS are wholly AMG-designed and -built.
Mercedes-Benz's performance division isn't stopping there either - as a third model, the Porsche Panamera-baiting GT four-door Coupe, will hit markets soon.
Aside from the eyeball-searing colour and track-honed body addenda, the GT R has a Panamericana front grille, a visual allusion to racing cars from Mercedes' grand motorsports tradition. Regular GT models are set to get this fierce new grille when they're facelifted, and while the GT R may resemble its lesser siblings in form, it actually boasts a wider body, as well as a raft of under-the-skin dynamic and active aerodynamics enhancements to ready it for track day.
Extensive weight-loss measures that see the use of aluminium and carbon fibre drop the car's weight below 1.6 tonnes, or 15kg less than that of the GT S - no mean feat considering the S's storming credentials.
From the body-hugging sports bucket seats to the Alcantara steering wheel and black trim, there's a sporty intent to the car, and that's even before you turn a wheel in anger.
The big difference you get with the R is a yellow knob in the centre fascia, which toggles between nine levels of traction control and can be engaged only when you turn the ESP (electronic stability control system) off.
Couple this with the debut of the brand's rear-steer system (which can now be specified on the S), and the engine's explosive performance is better controlled and directed via steering and throttle.
The soundtrack of the R's twin-turbo V8 is more progressive metal than the high-rpm opera of the naturally-aspirated flat-6 and V10 in Porsche's GT3 and the Audi R8, but there's a satisfying sledgehammer grind to the proceedings under full-bore runs that quickly endears itself to the driver.
Compared to the friskiness of the S, the R is more planted, with a pathological sense of murderous intent as it inflicts its high g-force magic in the corners.
The GT S, with 522hp and 670Nm of maximum torque, isn't slow by any stretch of the imagination, but the flamboyant R has 585hp and 700Nm. The latter's combination of increased boost (revised turbos increase the boost from 1.2 to 1.35-bar) and immense dynamic abilities see it put its power down to devastating effect, so the driver enjoys ample precision and control when pressing hard.
AMG models have always been special, and the GT R is no exception. Dynamically, it'll serve up a bundle of driving fun, yet it is no less engaging than its peers, which some feel have begun to take themselves too seriously.
Performance aside, we also like how it attracts the right sort of attention from petrolheads, who clearly recognise it for what it is. If there's anything about the car you'll have to grin and bear, it's the overwhelming enthusiasm that follows the charismatic R wherever it rolls.
MERCEDES-AMG GT R
Engine 3,982cc,V8, twin-turbo
Power 585hp at 6250rpm
Torque 700Nm at 1900-5500rpm
Gearbox 7-speed AMG Speedshift DCT dual-clutch
Top speed 318km/h
0-100km/h 3.6 seconds
Fuel efficiency 11.4L/100km
Price On application
Agent Cycle & Carriage