Just from its name, the Mercedes-AMG GT C doesn’t sound like it’s close to the top of the AMG GT range. The letter C isn’t often associated with the higher echelons of performance cars, but in the GT’s hierarchy the C sits just below the savage GT R, but above the basic GT and the S.
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The C, along with the GT, are the only two versions available as drop-tops. We’ve already tested the GT C Roadster – which we were very impressed with – but this is our first opportunity to drive the Coupe. The GT C will initially only be available as an Edition 50 model to commemorate AMG’s 50th anniversary. This special model is limited to just 500 units and comes with matt paint and dark chrome trim.
To elevate the C above the basic AMG GT and GT S it borrows the wide rear track and swollen bodywork from the track-ready GT R. That extra width – 57mm to be exact – is made up solely by wider wheels, the rear suspension components are the same dimensions throughout the GT range. However the GT C’s back-end isn’t lacking any tricks, it has a rear-wheel steering system to improve the car’s agility at low speeds and increase stability at high speeds.
As well as rear-wheel steering the GT C has adaptive dampers, an electronically controlled limited-slip differential as well as vented and drilled cast iron discs with red calipers. Carbon ceramic brakes are an option.
Engine, transmission and 0-60 time
The GT C is powered by the same 4-litre twin-turbo hot-V V8 that AMG puts in the rest of the GTs and its latest generation of 63 cars. Depending on its application the engine puts out a range of different power outputs, in the GT C it produces 549bhp and 502lb ft of torque. That’s 80bhp more than the standard AMG GT, but it’s 28bhp down on the range-topping GT R and 54bhp off the marque’s E63 S super saloon.
Still, the GT C’s power is more than sufficient to make it a properly fast car. It can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 3.8sec and reach a top speed of 197mph – the acceleration time is only 0.2sec slower than the GT R while its top speed is just 1mph down too.
As well as using the same engine, the entire GT range uses a seven-speed twin-clutch transaxle gearbox. In the GT C it’s connected to the engine via a carbonfibre propshaft and an aluminium torque tube – the GT R goes one better with a carbonfibre torque tube.
What’s it like to drive?
Whether it’s because of the wider track, rear-wheel steering system or the adaptive dampers – or a combination of all three – the GT C feels instantly more composed and calmer than the basic Mercedes-AMG GT. There’s a tautness to the way it rides but, with the car and chassis in Comfort mode, it rounds off the harshest bumps very well. With a burly engine up front too, you can make swift, effortless progress.
The C’s shell feels stiff and strong. But so it should considering how small the cockpit is, you feel surrounded by a lot of metal. The solid structure undoubtedly helps the ride, but combined together they give out a strong hint this car is more than just a proficient gran tourer.
Start playing with the driving modes – as well as Comfort there is Sport, Sport+ and Race – and the GT C’s sporty side starts to intensify. Most notable is the noise. The deep burble from the V8 in Comfort mode becomes harder and louder in Sport, then much louder in Sport+ and Race. In the two most extreme settings the exhaust starts to spit and pop with each gear change and every time you ease off the throttle.
All this drama makes the entire car feel even faster. Whether you’re actually travelling or accelerating any quicker is irrelevant because now the experience is more exciting and there’s a greater temptation to reach the engine’s red line in every gear.
When you do need to change up you’re treated to an instant, fast up-shift from the gearbox as you pull the wheel-mounted paddle. The GT’s dual-clutch transmission is a definite improvement over the more conventional autos and wet-clutch gearboxes found in many of AMG’s other cars.
Not quite as dramatic a change as the engine’s new exuberant character is the chassis that feels only slightly more eager. Even so, there’s enough support at each corner from the suspension, and no unwanted movement, to fill you with confidence to push the car. The brakes are easy to modulate too, and you can hold onto them right to the apex of a bend.
However, getting back on the power to leave a corner doesn’t feel quite as controlled. The engine’s immediate response, combined with a throttle that’s initially too sensitive, means it’s easy to be abrupt with the power. It’s rarely enough to upset the back axle as there is plenty of grip, but it’s unsatisfying if you’re trying to be smooth.
Price and rivals
The Edition 50 version of the GT C starts from £139,855. However, once each of the 500 cars have sold out the regular model will be available to buy at around £12,000 less.
With such significant performance and a hefty price tag, the GT C’s rivals are very serious performance cars indeed. The Porsche 911 Turbo (costing £128,692) offers a similar breadth of talent, being a very good sports car when you need it but also one that's very easy to live with. With two rear seats, even if they are small, the Turbo is more practical, but it can’t match the AMG for drama.
Audi’s R8 V10 is also a similar price. Its supercar proportions mean it's more imposing than the GT C, while its naturally aspirated V10 is one of the best engines of any new car you can buy.
If your heart is set on a more conventional front-engined GT car, then Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage S is well worth considering. It might not be able to live with the AMG’s performance, but its engine and the way it drives are truly captivating.