Mercedes drops Benz name on new AMG GT
Mercedes-Benz has controversially eschewed any traditional reference to its founder, Karl Benz, in the name of its new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 powered sportscar, which the German car maker confirms will be called the Mercedes-AMG GT when Australian sales get underway later this year.
Set to make its debut in September, the new two-seater indirectly replaces the SLS AMG, becoming the second stand-alone model to be engineered by Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance car off-shoot at its headquarters in Affalterbach on the outskirts of Stuttgart, Germany.
"The new Mercedes-AMG GT shows that we will be positioning AMG more vehemently and aggressively than to date," says AMG boss, Tobias Moers, who describes the new car as "a GT sportscar in its purest form".
The shunning of the reference to Benz in the name of its latest model is part of a wider initiative to more closely link AMG’s future road cars with Mercedes-Benz's F1 operations, which go under the title Mercedes AMG F1, according to officials.
The announcement of the GT name at the New York motor show this week coincided with the issuing of two official photographs that reveal the stylish interior of the new car, previously known under its internal codename C190.
The GT receives a snug two seat interior featuring high quality materials and trims together with a combination of controls and switchgear borrowed from other Mercedes-Benz models, most notably the latest C-Class mid sizer and S-Class limousine.
A heavily structured dashboard covered in leather and carbon fiber look applications features a heavily hooded instrument cluster, multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles, free standing infotainment monitor and six round air vents dominates the cabin, which is described as being roughly the same size as that of the SLS AMG.
As with its predecessor, the new Mercedes-AMG also receives a high-set centre console housing all of the major controls. The centre piece is a touch pad controller similar to that introduced on the new C-class. It is mounted ahead of a stubby gear lever for the GT’s standard seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and is surrounded by four round buttons – two of which boast a rotary function.
A study of the controls reveals the GT will receive four different driving modes and race start feature, two stage variable dampers, locking differential and a sports exhaust function. The new rear-wheel drive Porsche 911 rival will also offer a full suite of connectivity options, including a range of new AMG specific apps.
In a move aimed at answering criticism of the lack of oddment space in the SLS, the new car boasts a cup-holder unit in the forward section of the centre console and larger door pockets. The aviation theme featured on the SLS AMG is reflected on the GT, which boasts a row of switches within the roof liner separate to those for the lighting. Included are switches for the seat heaters, rear spoiler and warning lights.
The rear-wheel drive GT indirectly replaces the SLS at the top of the Mercedes-Benz line-up, where it will act as a styling and performance figurehead for the rest of the German car marker’s line-up, albeit at a more affordable price to its predecessor.
As with the higher positioned SLS, which is nearing the end of a five-year program, the GT is planned to be produced over a six year period though to 2020, at which time Mercedes-Benz plans to resurrect the SLS on an all-new carbon fiber intensive platform structure.
The styling of the new car has been overseen by Mercedes-Benz's head of design, Gorden Wagoner. He describes the GT has being much more contemporary in appearance than the SLS, with sharper detailing, tauter surfacing treatment and a generally more structured look that will influence the styling of other future Mercedes-Benz models.
The overall proportions of the GT are very similar to those of the SLS, with a long probing nose, cabin set well back within the wheelbase and a stubby rear combining to provide clear links with some of Mercedes-Benz's most revered sportscars. Dimensionally, the two are also very similar. Nothing is official, but insiders have indicated the GT will run close to the 4640mm length, 1940mm width and 1260mm height of the SLS.
Still, there are clear differences between the two. The heavy gullwing doors of the SLS are replaced on the GT by more conventional front hinged doors in a move that is claimed to both streamline assembly and provide the new car with a significantly lower centre of gravity owing to its lighter roof structure.
A further significant change is the adoption of a liftback style rear tailgate in place of the traditional boot used by the car it succeeds. The new layout, a first on an AMG sportscar, is aimed at boosting everyday practicality by providing easier access to the luggage compartment.
Unlike the SLS, which is produced in both coupe and roadster body styles, the GT is planned to be offered exclusively as a coupe.
"There were some initial thoughts about doing a roadster variant but at this stage there are no plans to do an open top version," a senior source revealed to Fairfax Media, adding, "We have the SL to fill that role."
The GT will be the first Mercedes-Benz model to be powered by AMG’s new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 direct injection petrol engine, the M178 as it is codenamed. The aluminum unit, which is also planned to head into the successor to the C63 AMG, shares its modular construction, including 90mm bore centre spacing, with AMG's M133 unit, the turbocharged 2.0-litre direct injection four-cylinder engine fitted to the A45, CLA45 and recently introduced GLA45 AMG.
Details remain scarce, though sources close to the German car maker say it will support a number of different outputs ranging from 357kW to over 432kW. The initial model is set to offer around 370kW – some 50kW less than that produced by the larger naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 used by the SLS. But with forced induction helping to swell reserves at lower revs, the new engine is set to boast more than the 650Nm of torque of the car it indirectly replaces.
Power is placed to the road through a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox mounted within the rear axle assembly in a classic transaxle arrangement aimed at providing optimal weight distribution. The Getrag produced unit has been carried over from the SLS but is upgraded with new electronic mapping and other unspecified changes.
The GT will be assembled at Mercedes-Benz's manufacturing facility in Sindelfingen, Germany. AMG hasn't divulged expected volumes, but officials are confident that the GT will sell in higher numbers than the SLS, of which over 10,000 are claimed to have been delivered.