There is understeer. There’s oversteer. And then there is a four-wheeled slide through an unavoidable spackle of rubber marbles that have built up through a quick, prolonged sweeper. A highlight reel of every other Indy 500 crash zips through my brain, as driver after driver goes off line, catches the marbles, and sails into the crunchy confines of the Safer Barrier.
But then, there’s an awful lot to be aforesaid for downforce. For, even as its otherwise sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup two tires struggle with the marbles, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R continues to doggedly hold itself to Portugal’s Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. The GT R is not only an additional stein of power poured into the regular GT with some bigger, pricier brakes thrown on for good measure.
That was largely the AMG M.O. of yesteryear. And, okay, it still has those, however with the R, you get extra vents, foils, ducts, and diffusers that all contribute to keeping the ultimate AMG GT adhered to Portugal through that grand corner. And, quite ideally, most of them are hidden away, preventing one of the foremost lovely cars in the world from becoming an agitated track-day special.
Mercedes-AMG GT R Features
Those parts also offer plenty of faith to progressively feed in throttle as that long, final sweeper unwinds into Algarve’s main straight as marbles kicked up from the car ahead pang, pang, pang off the GT R’s long, long hood. The lateral G’s 1st press me into the prominent bolsters of the optional AMG race seats and so into their thin backs.
It’s enlivening, but then comes the deep, guttural, nasty bellow of the hand-built 4.0-liter V8 massaged up to 585 Horsepower courtesy new turbochargers with a better boost pressure, plus a modified compression ratio, sharpened throttle mapping, and a changed exhaust (including an additional, center-mount port).
Mercedes says the whole combustion process has been retuned and the grand total is eighty two more Horsepower than in the AMG GT S. Yet, the resulting acceleration advantage is not just a matter of extra power (the 0–60 run is estimated at 3.5 seconds versus 3.7 of the GT S). Few areas of the GT R have avoided the weightsaver’s scalpel. This includes the wider front fenders, roof, torsion tube, drive shaft, and multiple structural braces made of carbon fiber, plus forged wheels and composite materials taking the place of many metal parts.
Mercedes had foremost of those components available at Algarve to let us lift them ourselves, and the weight difference is obvious – lifting the nine-pound driveshaft makes you look like The Rock – and it is easy to see how all of it together shaves off about 200 pounds versus the GT S’s curb weight. Now, call at the real world, “Comfort” is certainly a relative term.
Mercedes-AMG GT R Performance
The GT R will not beat you up as much as other track-focused cars (or that other GT-R), however bad roads are still jarring, and being mindful of road undulations is an absolute should to keep that aerodynamic underbody un-crunched. Yet, the real world does offer a much better chance to showcase another advancement for the GT R: AMG’s first application of rear-wheel steering.
It’s frankly a bit difficult to tell that it’s doing its job on the track, but on a tight, technical mountain road full of hairpins and switchbacks, its ability to turn the rear wheels up to 1.5 degrees improves agility and reduces steering effort. It also aids stability at higher speeds. Up front, however, the steering also differs in that it’s electromechanical versus the hydraulic power steering found on the GT S.
Again, one of those wasn’t on hand, so it’s tough to confirm the assumption that some feel is lost in favor of increased response – either way, there was no reason to complain about what is present. It really could be a brilliant way to let you dial in the car to match your skill, preferences, and current road conditions, and to easily do thus while driving extremely fast.
At the same time, however, you do not have to turn stability control off to enjoy the GT R, as there’s more than enough leeway available in Sport plus to make you feel in control. Even when skipping across those marbles, the system was more than happy to let me deal with the situation.
Perhaps that is the lasting impression of the GT R: Despite its stem-to-stern enhancements over lesser AMG GTs, it remains an accessible high-performance machine which will serve and flatter a diverse range of skills. it is also not entirely inappropriate for places other than the track thanks to its reasonably livable suspension and 100-percent Mercedes-Benz interior.