UK Drive: The Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster brings drop-top thrills to the supercar experience
What is it?
Mercedes-Benz has built a reputation for making incredibly focused super-coupes, and the AMG GT continues that trend. Updated for 2019, the GT C Roadster we’re testing here is just one step down from the full track-focused GT R, with some of its trick performance upgrades in a relatively more road-sensible package.
On paper, it’s an intoxicating package full of potential – a howling, high-performance V8 beneath a long-snouted and beautifully proportioned convertible body that allows you to drop the roof to get even closer to that gorgeous engine’s sound.
The latest changes are merely a mid-life refresh so there’s nothing too drastic. There are minor exterior design changes such as tweaked exhaust tips, new integrated driving dynamics control that Mercedes says provides ‘added agility’, a few new parts for the interior, and a fully digital instrument panel.
It’s a case of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, then. The AMG GT range was already chock full of desirable models, so these small changes merely improve an already impressive package and bring fresh appeal to a model that’s been in the public eye for a while now.
What’s under the bonnet?
The heart of the AMG GT C Roadster is the glorious engine. It’s a 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 making 549bhp and 680Nm of torque, which feeds the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission, contributing to a 0-60mph time of 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 196mph.
Each engine is handmade at AMG’s Affalterbach plant in Germany, with one builder responsible for each unit. They should all be proud of their work, because this V8 is a masterpiece, not only offering the kind of acceleration and response that plasters a massive smile on your face, but making a fantastic howl that’s only made more glorious by the ability to drop the roof.
How does it look?
It would be no exaggeration to say that this is one of the best-looking cars on sale – you can see why Mercedes isn’t keen to make too many changes, even taking into account its spiritual predecessor, the SLS AMG.
The long snout makes it clear there’s a massive, powerful engine underneath, while the flared air intakes further that aggressive look. The large grille and badge are somewhat at odds with the relatively diminutive proportions of the car, but after a while it blends into the rest of the car. With the roof up the coupe’s sleek lines are retained impressively, but the GT Roadster looks at its best with the roof down leaving the cockpit open to the elements.
What’s it like to drive?
This is not a car you can simply jump into and drive at 100 per cent. You sit a long way back in the chassis, with the long nose protruding out in front of you. The steering is sharp and direct, but the front wheels feel miles away, so you need to build up confidence along with your speed.
Once you’re tuned in though, it comes alive. The design makes it look like the kind of car that’s best-suited to long, lazy motorway journeys, but the front end is ultra-responsive, diving into corners eagerly and always gripping. The way this car changes direction is hugely impressive, and coupled with the grunt from that burly engine, makes it feel like Europe’s very own ultra-fast muscle car, rather than a slick and refined supercar.
What’s it like inside?
Even as far as two-door sports cars go, the AMG GT Roadster’s cabin is cramped. You drop into the seat, and the transmission tunnel running down the centre is snug to your side, with the door closing in on your other side. It feels focused rather than claustrophobic though, helped endlessly by dropping the roof, of course.
The materials are all of the highest quality and the infotainment system is clear and easy to use, but some of the ergonomics are questionable in such a confined space – for example, the gear selector and some of the settings buttons are set quite far back in the centre, meaning you have to arch your arm back to use them.
What’s the spec like?
For all that style and performance, you have to pay a hefty price, with GT Roadsters starting at £152,185. Standard equipment includes the twin-screen set-up that features a 10.25-inch infotainment display and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, nappa leather sports steering wheel, a high quality Burmester sound system, and a driving assistance package.
You can also choose between black, beige or red for the fabric roof, with other options including ceramic brakes, a different steering wheel, and a choice of alloy wheels.
With its long snout and aggressive but elegant styling, it would be easy to write off the AMG GT Roadster as a cruiser, built more for the theatre of its presence rather than carving up country roads.
However, while it’s very well-suited to posing, AMG’s engineers have earned a reputation for building razor sharp muscle cars, and the GT is no different. Even in convertible form, it’s one of the sharpest and most capable corner carvers in the segment.
Facts at a glance
Model as tested: Mercedes-Benz AMG GT C Roadster
Engine: 4.0-litre turbocharged V8
Max speed: 196mph
0-60mph: 3.5 seconds
Emissions: 284g/km CO2