Fire up this baby and you get a sounds best described as the Mating Call of the North American Male. True, your neighbors may have choice other words for the decibels which so gallantly sacrificed themselves to create the experience, especially if you’re a hedge-fund executive who leaves for work at 4:30 a.m. However, beauty is in the ear of the be-listener (or something like that) and to me the sound is perfect. Once the engine is pulsating, the driver can select to leave the exhaust note in the standard format or can hit the button with the pictogram of two exhaust pipes on it and summon forth the full wail of the banshees. That’s one of the defining characteristics of this car – the aural signature which is like none other, especially when downshifting and creating the explosive report accompanying overruns. There are cars with more horse- power, more cylinders, more turbochargers and such but no one will confuse the special sound of this machine with any other.
Not that the sound is the most striking part of the experience, however. The AMG GT S has a look which is at once 1960s exotic foreign import supercar and new-millennium svelte and flash. “Mine” was bathed in Designo Magno Iridium Silver (M-B’s designation for frozen or matte silver) – that will be $3,950, please – and it’s a great look for the car of the future (assuming that the future isn’t overrun by Google or Apple self-driving pods). Connected with dark silver/black rims and with a black Nappa/Dinamica Silver interior ($1,200 more, if you will), the car is quite stunning. Yes, one can see evidence of the 300SLs (and the SLRs and SLSs) from M-B’s distant and recent pasts, what with the improbably-long hood and the driver seated just before the bobbed rear, but with the scoops, strakes and other styling bits the car has a sports-car-meets- Millennium Falcon type of appearance.
Inside, the joy continues, with buckets that support and hug but don’t require a runway-model-thin posterior in order to settle in. Exotics of- ten demand those trade-offs, don’t they? Not too soft for the track or carving canyons, but not so tight that one’s fillings come loose with each pothole. Not so loud that one is citied for disturbing the peace yet not some namby-pamby burble that doesn’t announce the impending arrival or recent departure. The AMG GT S balances those metrics nicely so the car feels at home in any environment in which it’s likely to find itself.
Let’s look at the numbers since, of course, they tell you a lot about a car.
Horses — 503
Torque – 479 pound-feet
Turbochargers – two
Transmission – Dual-clutch seven-speed with carbon-fiber driveshaft connect- ed to a rear transaxle (helps with weight distribution)
Acceleration – 0-60 – 3.7 seconds
Top speed – 192 mph
Weight – About 3,600 pounds
Price – $129,000 base
“Mine” was about $155,000 as it was equipped with a boatload of goodies, like the high-end Burmester surround-sound entertainment system ($4,500), the special silver matte paint ($3,950), the optional interior upgrade (more leather, different light- ing — $3,600) and other holiday treats.
The engineers at M-B are re- markable. I mean, who thinks up elements like “dynamic motor and transmission mounts” (included as part of the $2,600 upgraded AMG Dynamic Plus Package), which use electro- magnetic fluid (like the viscous suspension gumbo in hyper-exotics), which adjust automatically to progressively stiffen as speed and driving conditions warrant? But all is not pre-programmed as the driver can choose between various modes (Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Race), which pre-select operating parameters on such items as the power band (it provides more oomph over a wider range of RPM in Manual and Race modes), adapts the throttle maps, modifies gear changes, tweaks the suspension setup and even can enhance the exhaust sound.
Frequently, supercars are denoted a “race car for the street” or something like that. For the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S, it clearly can operate well at both. Yet, like several other brands, Mercedes-Benz apparently is proceeding with a modified version focused more on the track world. Likely to be badged something like “AMG GT3”, the car certainly will shed some pounds and add some additional performance enhancements. But that won’t be your only choice of AMG GT models, as the somewhat de-tuned and lower-priced AMG GT (no S) is due to arrive during the first half of 2016.
My time with the Silver Bullet ended way too soon. I enjoyed the car on both mundane pursuits – yes, grocery shopping in an AMG GT S is possible – and more aggressive experiences (insert Fifth Amendment plea here). It was a major head-turner, commanding a crowd wherever parked, virtually everyone commenting favorably on the looks, especially the gullwing doors. It’s a very streetable car which is comfortable enough to be a grand tourer yet quick and agile enough to be a weekend racer, too. If your household includes a teenage driver, hide the keys, as this car works wonderfully for any cohort around.