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Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster

Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster.

Mercedes-AMG GT C is packed with performance … and goodies

Ted LaturnusThere’s one word for Mercedes’ AMG GT C: intimidating. But not for the reasons you might think.

Certainly it has nosebleed-inducing performance and oh-my-god handling and braking. And yes, it has power in abundance and can dart from a standing start to freeway speed in less than four seconds, not to mention handling tight corners like a go-cart.

But what’s daunting about this high-tech roadster is the sheer abundance of stuff that comes with it.

This car is chock-a-block with performance enhancers, engineering upgrades, and comfort/convenience goodies to the point where you hardly know what to choose. To detail every engineering feature on this car would take … well, it’d take a long time.

But first, a few specs. AMG is, of course, Mercedes’ performance division and stands for Aufrecht, Melcher and Grossaspach. The first two names are those of the guys who founded the company, while the last is the village where things got started in 1976.

The AMG GT comes in three versions: base, GT S and GT C. Power is amply provided by a twin turbocharged V8 displacing 4.0 litres, mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. There are three power levels here: 470 hp with the base model, 515 hp with the S, and a massive 550 hp with the GT C.

I drove the latter model this time around, and it will take you from zero to 100 km/h in about 3.5 seconds. That’s less time than it took you to read this paragraph. Make no mistake, this car flies. Not to mention looking like a million bucks.

The dashboard layout can only be described as a work of art.

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But that’s not all. The GT C has active rear-wheel steering and a console-mounted rotary dial that allows you to tune the car’s suspension, performance response, transmission shift points, and even regulate the “sonorous” exhaust note. A dash readout allows you to keep track of turbo boost, oil temperature, gear selection, and speed.

We won’t even talk about the car’s “launch” mode, track package, or attention assist for drowsy drivers. Suffice it to say that Mercedes hasn’t missed a trick with this car, and if you decide to indulge your boy/girl racer fantasies and want to fling this approximately $85,000-plus baby around a track, it’s ready when you are.

The aforementioned “attention assist” is a dash readout graphic that pops up if the vehicle senses you’re drifting away and not paying as much attention as you should. It’s a feature that seems kind of redundant to me – how could a car like this induce boredom? Inattentiveness with a 550-horsepower automobile of this calibre would likely be rewarded by disaster, right?

Slide behind the wheel, and you’re greeted by a dashboard layout that can only be described as a work of art. AMG builds this car by hand, and the materials are top-notch. My car also had “saddle brown exclusive style Nappa leather upholstery,” which nicely matched the car’s “nut brown/black exclusive interior” package. Although a titch cramped (it is a two-seater sports car, after all), the interior of the AMG GT C is a pretty damn nice place to spend time.

Although I had the lousy timing to have this car smack dab in the middle of a cold spell, with all the snow that came with it, I did manage to get in a little top-down motoring. Press the button and the top deploys – up or down – in just over 10 seconds. Mercedes’ AirScarf feature also redirects warm air up to and around your neck and shoulder via a vent in the seat back, which, along with the heated seats, tames even the coldest weather. Like any true sports car, the AMG GT is best enjoyed with the top down.

My only complaint with this car is … well, I don’t really have any other than the fact that I can’t afford one. The AMG GT C is awesome, indulgent, formidable and intimidating, all in one hard-to-resist package.

At a glance

Engine: 4.0-litre twin turbocharged V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel drive
Horsepower: 550 hp at 5,750 to 6,750 rpm
Torque:  502 ft. lb. at 1,900 to 5,750 rpm
Fuel economy: 14.7 litres/100 km (city) and 11 litres/100 km (highway). Premium fuel.

Some alternatives: Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, Chev Corvette, BMW M6 Cabriolet, Jaguar F-Type, Aston Martin Vantage S,  Maserati Gran Turismo.

Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist Of The Year twice and is past president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

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