First Drive: Mercedes AMG GT C Coupe Edition 50
James Baggott gets behind the wheel of the new limited edition Mercedes AMG GT C Coupe Edition 50 to see how it stacks up as a thoroughbred supercar.
What is it?
This is the Mercedes AMG GT C Coupe Edition 50 – a name nearly as long as the range is complicated. In short, this is the second hottest model in the sports car line-up and sits slightly below the utterly bonkers GT R. Think of it as the Porsche 911 Turbo S, with the GT R the Porsche 911 GT3 RS – that's the only way it'll make any sense.
We've already seen the GT C in convertible form, but this is the coupe, and only available currently as a 500-production 'Edition 50' special run. It features a monstrous engine, thunderous soundtrack and super GT looks.
It's the engine that steals all the headlines – but more on that in a moment. It's important to note before we move on that the GT C borrows many of the bigger brother GT R's technical refinements. Those include active rear axle steering, electronically controlled locking differential and a wider track than its lesser-powered GT and GT S siblings.
What's under the bonnet?
So, what about that engine? Well, all GT models feature the same 4.0-litre V8 with a 'hot inner V' – a compact engine design that places the turbos on the inside of the engine's 'V', so they spool up more quickly. Power output for the GT C is a whopping 549bhp backed up with 670Nm of torque.
Those numbers translate into explosive performance with it hitting 60mph in 3.5 seconds and going on to 197mph. It all feels like you're at the centre of a tropical thunderstorm – an earth-moving thunder clap channelled to the Tarmac through colossal wedges of rubber.
What's it like to drive?
On the road, it feels big and wide. Visibility isn't great and placing it takes practice – this certainly isn't a car you can jump in and hit warp speed instantly. It's got fantastic levels of grip, though, and despite those tyre-shredding performance figures, it puts those huge lumps of power down impressively well, aided smoothly by a quick seven-speed auto gearbox.The steering feels heavy, perhaps even a little slow at times, but it's communicative. As the name suggests, this is definitely a performance GT rather than a lithe and supple sports car. On paper, it might be a rival to an Audi R8 or Porsche 911 Turbo S, but both of those would feel far more sports car than this. The GT C is muscle; more raw power and less finesse.
How does it look?
That muscle car look might be exactly what buyers are looking for, though. Its long, blunt nose, tight rear and low stance will win the most buyers. It's a unique look – something that's pretty unrivalled on the road – and one that Mercedes is pegging a lot of the GT's success on.
What's it like inside?
Inside, the driver is surrounded by a focused cabin. A large, somewhat intrusive transmission tunnel is littered with buttons and dials and the hard-to-get-to-grips-with multimedia system is frustrating. We've tried the system in a number of different Mercedes' models now and it never gets any easier to comprehend or use.
The touch-sensitive trackpad is clunky and the graphics look dated, especially when compared with the latest systems from the likes of Jaguar Land Rover. The interior feels incredibly cramped too. For what looks like a big car on the outside, it has reverse-Tardis like qualities inside. Taller drivers will find their knees butt up against the bulkhead and the seats don't recline anywhere near far enough.
What's the spec like?
Standard spec on the GT C includes 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels, Burmester sound system, parking sensors and camera, keyless go and an AMG performance steering wheel finished in nappa leather. It's topped off by red brake calipers with AMG lettering.
If you can see past the complicated naming strategy to pick the right model, you'll be rewarded with a technologically advanced, blisteringly fast and characterful GT. It's cramped inside for taller drivers, and some of the multimedia system can be infuriating, but there's no denying the GT C is staggeringly quick, exciting to drive and looks the muscle car part.
Buyers will have a tough choice between this and the very capable alternatives from Audi, Porsche and McLaren, though – while Mercedes will be hoping its AMG heritage and booming soundtrack will pull in the punters.