Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster
"The Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster adds further shine to the coupe's brilliance"
- Fantastic driving experience
- Open-air appeal
- Dramatic looks
- Strict two-seater
- High running costs
- Expensive optional extras
AMG is most popularly known for applying big power to Mercedes saloons and SUVs. Recently, though, the evocative initials have started to appear on models that were designed as sports cars from the beginning.
The wild AMG SLS, with its gullwing doors and seemingly never-ending bonnet, can now be seen as a statement of intent in the light of the cars that followed. The next model launched, the less expensive, more compact AMG GT, is a better car in many ways. It’s a rival for the Porsche 911, Audi R8 and Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and this Roadster version adds open-top exhilaration to the equation.
You can choose from the 469bhp GT or an even faster GT C model with 549bhp. Although those figures are smaller than the E 63 AMG saloon can offer, its worth remembering that the GT was created to get the most out of its 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The GT C will sprint from 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds and, if you’ve a long enough straight on which you can legally do so, you can keep accelerating to its top speed of 196mph.
In place of the heavy four-wheel drive system used in the E63 S, the GT is rear wheel drive, and the engine is mounted far enough back for it to qualify as mid-engined. This means that the car’s weight is evenly distributed, and that translates to a terrifically balanced feel when you drive the GT enthusiastically on a twisty road.
Nobody will have any complaints about the way the ‘ordinary’ GT drives, but enthusiasts will be tempted to spend the extra and buy the GT C. As well as an extra 80bhp, your additional expenditure pays for an adaptive suspension system, an electronic rear differential, a sophisticated four-wheel steering system and bigger wheels.
The overall package dismisses any accusations of style over substance its attention-seeking shape might have provoked. The GT C is a car that you could drive gently to a race circuit, thrash round the track all day, and then drive home with the roof down and a classical concert on the stereo. Such is the split personality of the GT C and, to a lesser extent, the GT.
The triple-layered soft top can be raised in 11 seconds – at speeds of up to 30mph – and offers almost all the sound insulation of a fixed-roof coupe. With the drive settings in comfort, the GT can effortlessly absorb long journeys. Of course, it’s a strict two seater, but the boot is surprisingly accommodating.
Far from being a highly strung thoroughbred that’s strictly for touring holidays, the AMG GT is a remarkably easy car to live with on a daily basis. It makes no more demands of you than any other fast Mercedes, and the convertible is the best way of enjoying the car’s talents.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The best news about the cost of running an AMG GT Roadster is the fuel consumption. The entry-level model manages a fairly remarkable 30.1mpg, no doubt thanks to its modern engine. Its CO2 emissions are 219g/km – a high figure but massively lower than the similarly powerful Aston Martin Vantage V8.
Moving up to the GT C sees fuel economy dip to 25.4mpg and CO2 emissions increase to 259g/km. Unsurprisingly, both models sit in the highest 37% Benefit in Kind (BiK) bracket for company car tax, and road tax will cost £450 per year for the first five years, dropping to £140 per year thereafter.
Unfortunately, keeping the AMG GT taxed and fuelled may be the least expensive aspect of ownership. The car will need servicing once every year or 15,500 miles, and routine maintenance can be surprisingly affordable through Mercedes dealers. However, consumables can be very expensive if an AMG is regularly driven to its full potential. Brake pads and discs are especially pricey, and the 20-inch rear tyres of the GT C will cost a small fortune when the time comes to replace them.
Every AMG GT is ranked in group 50 for insurance, so we advise that an insurance quote is obtained before you commit to buying one. Mercedes-AMG models are covered by a similar three-year/unlimited mileage warranty to other Mercedes models.
Engines, drive & performance
The AMG GT Roadster is undeniably a great-looking car, but it’s far more than just a showboat. Under that long, curved bonnet lies a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol engine that produces 469bhp. This will take the GT from 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds, which should be quick enough for most people.
AMG knows that it won’t be, though, so it also offers the GT C. It uses a more powerful version of the same engine, this time producing 549bhp, which is deployed to the rear wheels via a clever electronic differential. This makes sure that most of the power is sent to the rear wheel with the most grip, helping to stop the rear tyres spinning – though you do have the option to switch off the electronic aids.
The electronic differential shows how much effort Mercedes-AMG has taken to ensure that the GT drives as well as it looks, and the GT C in particular is one of the most thrilling roadsters you can buy. Thanks to its clever electronic four-wheel steer system the steering feels incredibly sharp and it’s well weighted too.
With the controls set in Race mode the GT C performs impressively on a race circuit while turning heads and filling ears with its incredible V8 bellow. An adaptive sports suspension makes sure that the GT C is always level in corners and incredibly stable at high speed, while you can choose optional carbon-ceramic brakes that provide powerful and fade-resistant stopping power.
After a hard day on the circuit, engaging comfort mode sets you up for a smooth, comfortable and unruffled ride home. It's always a fairly stiff car, but few machines are so rewarding when driven hard, yet so relaxing when you want them to be too.
Interior & comfort
Apart from its Herculean engine, the big feature of the AMG GT Roadster is its electric folding roof. It takes 11 seconds to fold out of sight, which you can do at speeds of up to 30mph. With it up the Roadster isn’t really any colder or louder than inside the regular coupe. Yet when you lower it and deploy the wind deflector there’s barely any wind buffeting at motorway speeds, and you can easily hold a quiet conversation at any speed below three digits.
High speed touring – roof up or down – is a real forte of the GT Roadster. With Comfort mode engaged the steering becomes more relaxed and the ride becomes softer and smoother, and it mutes that V8 exhaust note until there’s just enough to add to the sense of occasion.
Although only two can travel, both do so in the height of comfort and surrounded by first-class materials which can include carbon-fibre, silver or chrome finishes, depending on customer choice. Many of the controls are bespoke to the GT, too, though some are positioned a little awkwardly.
The seating position puts you under no illusion that you’re driving anything but a serious sports car. You sit low, flanked on one side by the centre console with the high door sill on the other, but you feel cocooned rather than claustrophobic. There’s plenty of technology on hand, too, including the most recent COMAND Online infotainment system – though its tablet-style screen perched atop the dashboard looks like something of an afterthought. A powerful Burmester stereo is also on hand should you want to listen to music rather than the engine.
Practicality & boot space
The Roadster’s most obvious limitation is that it only has two seats. It also has thick windscreen pillars that can create blind spots at junctions, and parking would be tricky if Mercedes’ Parktronic park assist system wasn’t included.
There’s not a lot of storage inside – tiny door pockets and a small glovebox will only take the bare essentials, though there are two cupholders under a sliding central cover that occupies the space where you might otherwise expect to find a gearstick. Getting in and out is easy enough, though, thanks to doors that open nice and wide.
The boot is bigger than you might think, though, and should be enough for a weekend away with soft luggage.
Reliability & safety
Too few owners have participated in our annual driver power satisfaction survey for the AMG GT to have appeared in it, but Mercedes maintains its strong reputation for quality and reliability. In 2016 Mercedes came 12th overall out of 32 manufacturers surveyed, with a strong eighth-place finish for build quality, although its 18th-place rank for reliability is a disappointment.
With cars like the AMG GT in its lineup, it comes as little surprise that the brand is ranked 28th for running costs, with owners citing its expensive dealerships as a particular criticism.
The AMG GT Roadster, like the Coupe, hasn’t been tested for safety by Euro NCAP, and due to the small volumes it sells in this is unlikely to change. It’s a well built car, though, and has some sophisticated anti-collision technology including autonomous emergency braking.
Price, value for money & options
Shoppers for this kind of car are spoilt for choice. The Porsche 911 Cabriolet, Aston Martin Vantage Roadster and Audi R8 Spyder are all rivals with their own individual appeal. While Mercedes itself also offers the S-Class Convertible if open-top luxury is a higher priority than cornering thrills.
When it comes to the GT Roadster itself, there’s quite a financial leap from the GT to the GT C, and this is really only worth making if you’re likely to take full advantage of it. We would argue that the 469bhp GT is a fantastic car in its own right, but if cost isn’t an issue there are no drawbacks in opting for the even more powerful GT C.
You can keep adding to its considerable list price, too. The carbon-ceramic brake system could prove its worth on the track, and there are additional interior embellishments you can choose to personalise the GT.
When considering the price tag of a car like the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster, it seems ridiculous to call it good value. However, we can see where every penny of that huge figure goes, and doubt that any buyer will feel short-changed.