ROAD TEST: 2018 Mercedes-AMG GTS is theatre and thunder
The "Panamerica” grille of the AMG GTS looks as if it will carve you up. Looks aren't deceiving, this low-slung two-door is the epitome of Mercedes-Benz performance and combines visual theatre with visceral thunder fas soon as you ignite the twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8.
It clocks 3.8 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint, more than enough unless you plan regular track days. It isn't perfect, given the door-mounted mirrors and massive windscreen pillars block the view from the low-slung sports seats, so double-checking for crossing traffic is recommended.
Plant the right foot and the V8 under that long, long bonnet overwhelms that limitation. It's among the best super cars around - think of it as a rarer, less expensive rival for the Porsche 911 GTS that's quicker in a straight line.
The AMG is also kitted out with typical Benz driving aids. The 8.4-inch screen looks small compared to the 12.3-inch jobs in newer Mercs but the interior is brilliantly laid out, putting the driver in command.
The mid-life update tweaks the steering and suspension, though AMG won't detail its exploits. Subjectively, the steering seems marginally faster and more communicative, despite turning massive 265mm-wide tyres.
ON THE ROAD
AMG GTS owners face a tough choice. Do they tolerate the jolting ride around town to be seen in one of the sexiest machines on the road - or do they save their spines and reserve the GTS for weekend jaunts?
Some would favour the former but the suspension settings range from solid to savage and don't appreciate tram tracks or pockmarked inner-urban roads, where the Mercedes can't generate the pace to skip over the top of them.
Find smoother tarmac and the GTS connects you to the road with a conviction few cars can manage. It is a four-wheeled bloodhound, barking via the bi-modal exhaust.
The seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission tests the neck muscles with its rapid-fire gear changes. Fire it into a tight corner and the software assesses approach speed and brake force before dropping two or three cogs to keep the engine at its responsive peak.
The engine howls in guttural delight at being unleashed. The 670Nm pours on from 1800rpm and hangs on all the way to 5000rpm, at which stage power is just starting to peak.
Potent brakes are not prone to fade on public roads, even under repeated punishment.
If you demand the best, AMG's GTR variant will wind up the outputs to 430kW/700Nm for another $50,000.
Buyers would also be advised to hone their driving skills in safety on the PlayStation 4, with all of the AMG versions featuring on the latest, just-released edition of Gran Turismo.
A great thing made marginally better, the AMG GTS is hard to fault in terms of aesthetics or acceleration. In the heady realm of supercars, even the price impresses.
AT A GLANCE
PRICE $298,771 (relatively good value)
SERVICING AND WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km; $4180 for 3 years (average)
ENGINE 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo, 384kW/ 670Nm (hang on)
SAFETY Not rated, AEB, adaptive cruise, lane-departure/blind-spot alerts (well kitted)
THIRST 9.5L/100km (not in real world)
SPARE None (anticipated)
BOOT 350L (adequate)