After months of teasing and spying, the Mercedes-MAG GT is here, serving as a flagship sports car in the wake of the mighty SLS AMG. The first thing you notice about the new model is its name – this isn't just a Mercedes-Benz. Oh no, Affalterbach's input is so significant that the company saw fit to give it a proper Mercedes-AMG designation.
Mercedes is launching its new coupe in two trims, both packing the brand's new 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 with dry-sump lubrication, dubbed the M178. The standard GT boasts a healthy 456 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Preliminary figures from the company claim that it can sprint to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds and carry on to an electronically limited top speed of 189 mph. If that's not enough speed, the GT S makes 503 hp and 479 pound-feet to reach 60 in an estimated 3.7 seconds all the way to a limit of 193 mph.
Regardless of trim, that new V8 is mounted behind the front axle, and power gets routed to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with a locking differential. All the weight out back gives the coupe a 47:53 weight distribution from front to rear. The trick drivetrain gets wrapped up in an aluminum spaceframe chassis with a double-wishbone suspension at all four corners that boasts aluminum-forged components. The GT S also gets adjustable damping as standard.
Mercedes does a real magic trick with the styling of the GT. The two-seater has retro touches from the 300SL like the single-bar chrome grille and bubble roof. However, it's all tied together well enough that only a wisp of the past comes through in the modern coupe form.
Up front there's just a big prominent Mercedes star nestled in an oval grille with two hungry air intakes at the lower corners. From there, the hood with dual powerdomes hides that new V8 and leads to the bubble canopy that flows to the tapered rear. The back looks remarkably wide with long, skinny taillights poking out to the hefty rear fenders. There's an electronically controlled rear spoiler, too, but it remains well hidden when not deployed.
Things aren't quite so harmonious inside. The instrument panel is fine with Mercedes' contemporary two-pod layout featuring an electronic display in the center. However, the center console is kind of a mess and looks like a mountain of knobs rising out of the vehicle. Mercedes calls it the Drive Unit, and it's supposed to be reminiscent of the V8's cylinder layout. But in photos, it just looks awfully busy.
Being a Mercedes performance car, there are any number of options to further enhance the coupe's dynamics, like ceramic brake rotors and forged wheels. However, one of the most exciting features is the Dynamic Plus package available for the GT S, with dynamically adjusting engine and transmission mounts. When cruising, they can be soft and compliant but firm up during more enthusiastic driving. The pack also adds Race and M (for manual) transmission modes, retuned power steering, a stiffer suspension and increased negative camber at the front axle.
As a smaller (and likely cheaper) take on the AMG sports coupe formula first put forward by the SLS, the GT seems to bring a lot to the table. There are still a few months before we really get to find out, though. The 2016 AMG GT S launches in the US in the spring of 2015, and the standard GT comes a year later. Scroll down to read Mercedes' massive press release about its latest coupe from AMG.