eCoty 2019: best of the rest - supersaloon
Our six stand-out evo Car of the Year competitors were not the only new cars of 2019 to impress; these are the driver’s cars that shone in each of their respective classes
The name is automotive clickbait. The Mercedes-AMG GT63 S 4-Door in reality shares more with the E-class than it does the AMG GT sports car – an entirely different platform, no transaxle, two more driven wheels, different gearbox, the works. It’s not even a four-door – it’s a hatchback, rather than a traditional saloon.
On learning this, you might initially be tempted to click away. But there’s more depth to the GT 4-Door than a misleading SEO-optimised headline. Cast aside concerns that, with E-class, CLS and now 4-Door in its line-up, Mercedes and AMG are leaning a little too heavily on supersaloons, because each genuinely offers something different. The E63, obviously, is the practical one. The CLS is the stylish, easy-going one, and to some of us in the evo office actually looks a bit better than this 4-Door sibling. With no CLS63 offered, though, AMG’s intentions are clear: the GT 4-Door is the performance one.
Forget about the E-class platform for a second. The GT 4-Door is wider, lower and stiffer. It does, from some angles, resemble its coupe namesake in a way the upright E63 never will. From others it’s pretty brutal, admittedly, but for presence it has RS7s, Panameras and the like roundly beaten.
Inside you’re confronted by the same strip of digital screens and dashboard architecture as in an E63, but the AMG seats you marginally lower behind a more raked-back screen and alongside a prominent, GT coupe-like centre console. It’s more claustrophobic, perhaps (particularly for those riding in the back), and it lacks the GT coupe’s imposing view out over a long bonnet, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Our initial introduction to the £135,500 GT63 S 4-Door took place in Texas, at Circuit of the Americas, home to Formula 1, MotoGP, IndyCar and more. Circuits have a habit of making fools of road cars, particularly Grand Prix circuits and particularly two-ton behemoths, but the 4-Door was remarkable. CotA’s long straights did shrink its performance, but slack-free responses and enormous grip more than made up for it. Its brakes stood up to considerable punishment – CotA has a couple of hefty stops at the end of its long straights – and far from bludgeoning its way around the circuit, the GT felt agile and adjustable.
On the road it of course feels enormously fast, but the surprise is that it’s otherwise as relaxed as an E63, despite feeling that much sharper on track. Quiet at a cruise, relatively pliant on poor surfaces, and four-wheel steering lowers the pulse when you’re required to park it.
What really marks out the GT 4-Door, though, is that it feels special. All high-end Mercs and AMGs do to some extent, but as this sector becomes ever more crowded, the experience delivered by the GT still manages to stand out above those of the RS7s, M8s and Panameras with which it shares column inches. The styling is dramatic, the engine angry and alive, and the driving experience engaging. It’s bursting with character, like almost all AMG Mercedes, but also has enormous ability.
Next to something such as the Jaguar XE SV Project 8, it’s less emotive, feels less bespoke, while AMG’s own GT R Pro demonstrates the potential of a legitimate sports car rather than a tuned saloon. But nevertheless, just this once, we’re prepared to forgive the clickbait title.