OMG: it’s the new Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S

This is the new Mercedes AMG marque – top speed 310kph, 0 to 100kph in 3.7 seconds, 4.0L V8, twin-turbo, pushing 510hp.

Mercedes-Benz’s AMG GT S replaces the SLS. Courtesy Mercedes-Benz
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Yas Marina F1 Circuit, 5pm. The light is beginning to fade and the floodlights are throwing a super-vivid hue across the blue-trimmed racetrack. Something is stirring and I’m excited.

A phalanx of black-uniformed Germans march to a line of cars; 3, 2, 1 – a deafening roar. I flinch, my mouth opens, my eyes widen and I say hello to the new Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S. I think they missed a trick with this one – it should have been called the OMG GT S.

The sound of fury, a deep primal roar of power – you know immediately that AMG has left nothing on the drawing board when it comes to the exhaust.

This is the new Mercedes AMG marque – top speed 310kph, 0 to 100kph in 3.7 seconds, 4.0L V8, twin-turbo, pushing 510hp.

It’s the replacement to the SLS. It’s lower and lighter, being honed from aluminium and carbon fibre, without the gull-wing doors. It’s also about 25 per cent cheaper than the SLS, so expect a price tag of about Dh600,000.

The car has been built to square up to the Porsche 911, and it looks, whisper it if you dare, a bit like a Porsche from the back. From the front, it’s undoubtedly a Mercedes AMG – a wide, muscular body, shark-like in form, with a brash silver star sitting above an AMG A-wing, and a snarl from two ­bonnet-mounted air intakes feeding the twin turbos buried between the engine’s V8 heart.

The cockpit is a snug, luxurious haven of uber-crafted technology and power. It’s a personal space of chrome, suede and leather. The beautifully finished AMG performance steering wheel seems to float above an array of information, while the deep bucket AMG sport seats hold you perfectly in place. The cabin is not spacious – anyone 180 centimetres or above may well be struggling. A further word of warning: if you take your grandmother for a ride in it, you may never get her out.

The centre console – the AMG drive unit is its official name – is easily navigated, with a representation of its V8 engine. It has eight buttons in a V-shape framing the gear stick and the controller for the infotainment system that sits like an iPad in the middle of your dash. When people used to write about cars of the future, they probably described the driving position of this car; you feel it really should hover.

The buttons are typically dramatic in AMG red with a start/stop button and another that can open the exhaust flaps wider should you want to terrify any pedestrians. I did have a problem with the gear stick placed deep into the console. Apparently it’s to allow room for the cupholders – however, the need for the gear stick is almost redundant with the optional, manual seven-gear transmission, operated by paddles on the steering wheel.

The restricted space in the cabin has been used for the most practical of purposes and been given over to a proper boot space. Yes, it has a proper, deep, grown-up space for grown-up stuff. The boot has enough space to fit two golf bags; most sports cars today allow room for a toothbrush and a change of underwear, but only if it’s in your jacket pocket and you’re already wearing them.

This is a supercar that wants to go to Spinneys, and because it no longer has the gull-wing doors of the SLS, you can park it in just one space.

There’s a “comfort” driving option that softens the car’s handling to enhance a trip out for a weekly shop. I don’t use that option – I opt for Sport +, which tightens the suspension and makes me glad I’m on a racetrack.

As I plant my foot on the accelerator, I experience what’s known in broadcast circles as “semantic noise” – that is when what you see is not the same as what you are hearing. The smoothness of my hurtling pace combined with the g-force into the seat doesn’t fit with the spitting dragon breathing behind me. The engine uses its transmission like a car thief, yet the experience is more akin to being catapulted along a track – I’m driving along a cotton-wool cloud at 250kph and the beast is still piling on the horses.

It’s beautiful, it’s feral, it’s functional. And I can’t wait to drive it again.

ascott@thenational.ae

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