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First Drive: 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

Road & Track logo Road & Track 8/9/2017 Max Prince

First Drive: 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster© Mercedes Benz First Drive: 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

YOU’VE READ ABOUT TOBIAS MOERS BEFORE. CEO of AMG, a slightly unhinged former racing driver who combines technical expertise with a healthy appetite for destruction. There’s a reason we can’t get enough of this guy. In an age of straitlaced execs and customer-feedback loops, Moers is a throwback to Enzo and Butzi, a time when machines were manifestations of their creator’s singular vision. Driving one of the man’s cars feels like shaking his hand.

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The Mercedes-AMG GT C - available as a roadster (which we drove) or a coupe (in the near future) - is no exception. The “C” refers to the hottest spec short of the race-focused GT R, bringing standard adaptive dampers, active engine and transmission mounts, wider rear wheels and tires, and a seriously bodacious back end. The rear fenders are grafted on wholesale from the GT R. That car’s wide hips, trick electronic diff, and active rear-steer axle all carry over, too. Measured at the caboose, the GT C is a whopping 2.25 inches wider than the GT S. Painted AMG’s Solarbeam yellow, it looks like a kinky Super Soaker.

© Mercedes Benz

The engine, hand-built in Affalterbach, remains a selling point. It’s the same dry-sump, twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 found in the GT S. Here, software changes and more boost push output to 550 hp and 502 lb-ft, gains of 35 hp and 8 lb-ft. The GT C gets an upgraded exhaust, too, and it brings the ruckus. (Those who want a bit more peace and quiet can opt for the base GT roadster, which has 469 hp.)

Accompanying that animal soundtrack is a brand of raw, visceral thrust once reserved for guys named Yuri or Buzz. The torque curve is ruthless, holding from 1900 to 5750 revs. There’s no perceivable turbo lag. Upshifts from the dual-clutch transaxle (seven-speed automatic, wheel-mounted paddles) sound like artillery fire and have the finality of a guillotine.

© Mercedes Benz

But mechanical grip defines the driving experience. This is a big-tire car, and it casts a wide safety net; even in more permissive drive modes, unsettling the tail demands large, deliberate stabs at the throttle. Turn-in is exceptional, understeer nonexistent in any reasonable scenario. The rear-steer setup delivers up to 1.5 degrees of additional toe, switching over from counterphase at 62 mph. The improvement changing direction is noticeable, and tweaked spring rates, slightly softer than the GT S’s, complement overall body control.

Interestingly, engineers maintain convertible development kicked off after the hardtop GT S launched. With rigorous modern safety regulations and carefully considered vehicle architectures, that kind of spontaneity is rare. It likely explains the need for many structural reinforcements - an additional crossbeam behind the passen- ger compartment, beefier side sills, windshield supports, a car- bon-fiber underbody brace borrowed from the GT R, and static rollover hoops - and the resulting bloat (roughly 200 pounds).

© Mercedes Benz

It also makes the results even more impressive. The power roof (aluminum, magnesium, and steel skeleton, three-layer fabric skin) raises and lowers in 11 seconds, walling off road noise. Folded down, there’s no around-town creakiness or free- way scuttle shake, even crossing into triple-digit speed. A good thing, since AMG claims the GT C will do 196 mph flat out, 3 mph better than the GT S.

Even in convertible form, traditionally the fairer body style, AMG has resisted the temptation to dial back. Instead, the GT C roadster feels like a declaration of values, an assertion of antihero intent. More loud, more fast, more wide. More of Moers. In the high-horsepower-convertible segment, this is as unhinged as it gets.

Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

Price: $157,995

Powertrain: 4.0-liter Twin-turbo v-8, 550 hp, 502 lb-ft; rwd, 7-speed automatic

Weight: 3800 lb

0–60 mph: 3.7 sec

Top Speed: 196 mph

On sale: Now

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