Mercedes-AMG GT 63 2024 review – is AMG’s coupe finally a Porsche 911 beater?
A new chassis, tweaked V8 and a larger, more practical interior provides AMG’s new GT 63 with everything it needs to take on the best in the business
The first Mercedes-AMG GT was a curious beast, positioned between a GT car and a super-sports car it struggled to decide what it wanted to be, a schizophrenic torn between wanting to take on everything from an Aston Martin DB11 to a Porsche’s 911 Turbo and everything in between. As impossible tasks go, the original AMG GT had one.
So now there’s a new one that includes a pair of optional 911-esque rear seats and an increase in size of the boot, two core customer requests, which means it’s longer and higher but the same width as the old car (the GT S not the wider GT C). At 1970kg it’s also 180kg heavier, much of this down to the now standard fitment of 4Matic+ four-wheel drive and enough upgrades to the chassis hardware and software to make an engineer's head spin in excitement.
That four-wheel drive system, which hooks up to a nine-speed automatic gearbox that's no longer rear-mounted to free up boot capacity, spends the majority of its time sending drive to the rear 21-inch wheels, with 50 percent of the drive capable of being sent to the front axle. Noise and emission regulations means the NASCAR soundtrack is banished, from the outside at least as a microphone within the exhaust system pumps as much noise back to the cabin as possible, albeit all rather synthetically.
This noise reduction also means it’s hard to gauge the V8’s delivery. It remains a monumentally punchy motor, even if it’s hauling nearly two-tons around, but the sound is such that there’s no change in tone and in the first three gears a visit to the limiter is common. Power (577bhp) and torque (590lb ft) delivery isn’t as linear as you’d expect, with the initial burst from tickover blending to a flatter surge before finishing with a burst to the redline. 62mph arrives in 3.2 seconds and V-max is 196mph.
Left in auto the nine-speed transmission is no slouch, the shift mapping intuitive both up and down ratios although, as is the case with all auto settings, upshifts are earlier and downshifts later than you’d instigate if you were doing manually; if you do self select the steering wheel mounted paddles (better than Volkswagen Group offerings, but still little more than elongated switches) require little effort, perhaps a little too little.
While its M177 engine is a known component - it’s been fitted with a modified oil sump, the intercoolers have been repositioned for improved air flow, and there’s new active crankcase cooling and higher boost pressure - it’s the GT’s new chassis that carries the surprises and delight. Built on an all-new aluminium space frame with steel, magnesium and composites the increases in stiffness ranges from 18 percent for torsional rigidity, a 50 percent in transverse stiffness and 40 percent in longitudinal stiffness.
The GT’s body, minus opening items such as doors, weighs 270kg and weight distribution is now 54/46, where it was previously a 46/54 split. Multi-link front and rear suspension includes active dampers that are hydraulically linked across the chassis (if the offside front damper is under compression, the nearside rear will be in rebound), an active anti-roll bar system, rear-wheel steering, an electric-limited slip rear differential and that four-wheel drive system. It comes together to deliver quite the performance, although selecting the correct drive mode is crucial.
In Comfort and Sport the GT still portrays elements of its predecessor’s aloofness and is a far softer and benign GT car than it was before and is all the better for it. Some tyre noise resonates around the cockpit but there’s a mellowness to how it flows, an easy going approach where previously it would dart for an apex before falling over itself. Now there’s a fluidity to low and medium speed driving, a suppleness to its behaviour.
Where the new GT ups the ante over the former is when you dial the modes up. Sport+ locks everything down, but rather than turning the chassis into a bobsled it adds precision and alertness. There’s more weight to the steering, more at an attempt to suggest feel rather than anything else, but it suits the GT when you begin to hustle it along. The front end, which thanks to the driver positioned 20cm further forward in the cabin, no longer feels like a distant relative, but a much closer companion and dives into the corner with far more conviction. Although there’s plenty of grip from the Michelin Pilot S 5 tyre you still find yourself making small adjustments to judge the level of purchase the tyres have with the surface.
With only up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque fed to the front axle the new GT always feels a resolutely rear-driven car, driving through a turn and exiting with a squat from the rear. In Race mode the step up feels similar to when you go from Comfort to Sport rather than Sport to Sport+. It is angrier, sharper, more edgy but not to the point of snappy. It never feels anything but planted. And even across shockingly bad broken tarmac the stiffer damper settings remain calm and controlled rather than brittle and back breaking; it’s an impressive performance.
Less impressive is the car’s rear-wheel steering, which below 62mph turns in the opposite direction to the front axle and in the same direction above that speed. But on a number of occasions when turning in to a corner there was what felt like a delay in the rear axle’s reaction; at the last second as you pass the apex and unwind steering lock the rear would throw in a couple of degrees of opposite rotation unsettling the car as the tail shimmied across the surface. It behaves similarly when you brake deep into a corner, come off the brake and apply the required level of steering angle with rear overcompensating, unsettling the car and at times requiring some corrective interaction. It feels like the e-diff, which you can feel constantly working away as the torque load spreads across the axle, is out of sync with the rear-wheel steering, the former leading the charge and not allowing the latter to interject until the last minute.
It was a characteristic that only manifested itself in Comfort and Sport, and in the more dynamic settings there’s linearity and fluidity in how the GT 63 tackles a road. It’s not a car that takes well to being hustled, but it’s willingness to change direction with directness and immediacy that belies its size and heft, remain settled and under total control is testament to the work AMG’s engineers have undertaken to inject the personality and character the GT was lacking before. Even the ESP system is an invisible driving aid rather than a nannying inconvenience, designed to support you as you push it nips away hidden in the background, rather than throwing a security blanket over proceedings when you start to explore the limits.
Naturally there’s some serious stopping power required for a car of this weight, with the GT fitted as standard with 390mm discs and six-piston calipers on the front, 360mm and a single piston caliper on the rear. The standard discs have a ceramic coating as standard but a full carbon-ceramic set-up will be an option. Initial brake feel and retardation is impressive, but at the midpoint the pedal hardens and requires a stronger shove to push through for maximum retardation. They feel durable but extended periods of heavy downhill stopping soon results in a softer pedal and a whiff of hot pads.
The new GT accomplishes the majority of its goals with a high degree of success. After the disappointment of the new SL, there was concern this new coupe would follow in its overburdened, confused tyre tracks. Thankfully it doesn’t. It’s a better GT car than its predecessor and a more engaging, characterful and precise sports car too. More derivatives will follow (a GT 55 is also available but isn’t coming to the UK) that will include both more track focused editions such as replacements for the GT R and Pro, along with an E Performance model offering hybrid assistance to the V8 and circa 800bhp.
Price and rivals
Available to order now, the new Mercedes-AMG GT is priced from £164,765 in the UK, £7200 less than its drop-top SL63 sibling. UK buyers can choose from Premium Plus, Performance and Launch Edition specifications at launch, all applying plenty of kit as standard – as a result, the only optional extras are new paint colours and the Driver Assistance package, which bring price to £173,565 in the top spec.
At the lower end of the GT price range is the £98,960 Lexus LC500, a GT that punches above its weight in terms of dynamics and refinement and has a glorious naturally aspirated V8. The GT 63’s nemesis in the eyes of AMG’s engineers is Porsche's £159,100 and £180,600 911 Turbo and Turbo S. Turbocharged, four-wheel drive and room for four(!) the 911 continues to prove to be a benchmark for so many.
Maserati’s new GranTurismo, at £163,000, has proven itself to be a worthy addition to the GT class with its plush interior, refined ride quality, effortless performance and dynamically strong chassis, but is closer in spirit to Bentley’s £186,160 Continental GT in terms of character.
Finally there are the heavy hitters: Aston Martin’s £188,500 DB12 and Ferrari’s £172,690 Roma. The former has defined a new niche in terms of being a super-GT, the latter remains one of Ferrari’s finest and near impossible to resist.