2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster
In brief, the Roadster is the new drop-top version of the Mercedes-AMG GT which was available only in coupe form so far. It uses a fabric roof that can be raised/lowered in just 11 sec at speeds up to 50 kph. The Roadster also happens to be our introduction to the updated GT range. There are a few design changes common to all GTs, more power from the 4.0-litre engine and even more versions on offer.
The revised GT family is identifiable by the new ‘Panamericana’ grille whose vertical bars serve as a visual link to Mercedes’ Carrera Panamericana race cars of the 1950’s. Also hidden behind the grille are new louvres that open and close depending on the cooling requirements of the engine. When there is no need for additional cooling, the louvres stay shut to reduce drag.
As for the 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8, it’s been worked on for more power. On the standard GT, it now makes 469 hp and 630Nm (up 13 hp and 30 Nm), while on the GT S it has been uprated to 515hp and 67 1Nm (up 12 hp and 30 Nm).
Altogether, the GT range has expanded; brace for information overload. In addition to the GT, GT S and range-topping 577 hp GT R Coupes, there’s the new GT Roadster and the all-new GT C Roadster. “Now what’s the GT C?” you ask. Well, the GT C Roadster slots in between the GT S and GT R Coupes on the power scale with 557 hp and 680 Nm. Visually and mechanically, the GT C is closer to the GT R thanks to its 2.25-inch wider rear fenders, wider track and four-wheel steering system. The GT C Roadster is the car we’ve driven here but… (cue tragic music) it’s not the one coming . What we will get is the 469 hp GT Roadster as well as the updated GT S Coupe around Diwali this year.
What’s it like to drive?
First, a bit about the roof. The three-layer fabric roof absorbs noise quite well. It’s never absolutely hushed in the cabin but you won’t have to raise your voice to converse with your co-passenger at least at average town speeds. Lowering the roof, though, does increase noise levels more than expected. There is a wind deflector on the rear sill but there’s still plenty of buffeting in the cabin even at cruising pace. Press down on the throttle with gusto, though, and it’s the engine that you’ll hear loud and clear. The note from the V8 is throaty with pops and crackles on the overrun.
And of course, this is a fast car. The GT C is ferociously quick to build speed and launch you onto the wrong side of the speed limit without even trying too hard. Its twin turbos seemed armed and ready at all times; there’s no lag and delivery is consistently strong all through the rev range. You just don’t experience that typical turbo car pause between commands at the throttle being executed at the rear wheels. Sure, this is the more powerful GT C but I don’t think the -bound GT would be much slower. Mercedes-AMG claims a 0-100kph time of 3.7sec for the GT C Roadster and 4.0sec for the GT Roadster. Do note the GT Roadsters, with kerb weights above 1.6 tonnes, are no lightweights. The GT Roadster’s aluminium body is stiffened with thicker sill elements, an additional dashboard support and a new aluminium cross-member integrated into the rear bulkhead that supports fixed roll-over bars.
On the smooth roads around Phoenix, Arizona in the USA, we didn’t experience any of that scuttle shake that is characteristic of convertibles. What the GT will be like on the pockmarked roads outside Phoenix Mills, Mumbai is what we’ll have to see in the future. In general, the ride did feel a bit firm, though the GT C’s standard adjustable dampers did help take a bit of the edge away.