2018 Mercedes AMG GT R

PHOENIX — AMG, the high-performance speed shop for Mercedes, has been hammering out a steady stream of unrestrained, tire-shredding, asphalt-ripping street machines for more than 30 years. The GT R is its latest sports car. If you’re familiar with Germany’s Nurburgring (nickname Green Hell), it’s worth knowing that the GT R got around the track in a record 7 minutes and 10 seconds, which Mercedes claims is a record for rear-wheel-drive cars.

The new GT R is the sequel to the GT S, but they have little in common. Low, wide and inspired by the 300 SL Gullwing racer that won the Panamerica road race in 1952, GT R sports a snarling front end that couldn’t possibly be more aggressive. Its wide carbon fiber body panels, and wheels and tires extend further away from the height-adjustable double wishbone coil-over aluminum suspension.

Track-ready power comes in the form of a twin-turbocharged 577 horsepower 4.0-liter V-8 front engine with a massive 516-lb-ft of torque. That’s 74 more horsepower and 37 lb-ft of torque than the GT S. There’s a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle, a robotic limited slip electronic differential, with anti-roll bars galore. It takes just 3.2 seconds to get from zero to 60 miles per hour and has a top speed of 198 mph. All this power is quickly brought to a halt by compound carbon-ceramic disc brakes. You’ll be glad you have them.

A dizzying amount of technology, engineering and design make the GT R a much more rewarding car to drive. Here are a few specs to impress: Four-wheel steering and five selectable drive modes — Individual, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Race. There are separate damper setting buttons — two each for exhaust and manual gear change lockout — and a nine-position knob on the center of the dash to adjust the traction-control system. And let’s not forget the snarling, cracking, burbling of the deployable AMG performance Exhaust System. Those melodious notes alone could be reason enough to buy this car.

But perhaps the best thing about all this goodness and exemplary performance is that — thanks to smarter-than-you safety and technology — this two-seater is perfectly suitable for those who are not racecar drivers. Shockingly fast — surprisingly easy to drive.

At $157,000 the GT R competes for the affection of the richly blessed with the likes of the Acura NSX, Audi R8, Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-Type SVR. In a sea of 911s you’ll definitely stand out at Saturday’s Scottsdale Cars and Coffee…provided you want the attention.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $157,000
Price as Tested: $187,345
Powertrain: 4.0L biturbo 577 horsepower, 516 lb-ft torque 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle
Fuel Economy: Not yet rated
Seating: 2

Crash Test Results:  The GT R has not been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as of this writing.

Competes With
Acura NSX
Audi R8
Porsche 911
Jaguar F-Type SVR

Fab Features
The $10,000 “green mango hell” paint
Killer good looks – menacing to look at
Mellifluous exhaust notes

— Jim Prueter