What is it: The Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster was introduced at the 2016 Paris auto show. The convertible is basically AMG’s GT R, which we looked at yesterday, but with a folding roof and the hand-built 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 27 less hp. The convertible shares the GT R’s active rear-steering and electronically locking rear diff. The more subdued AMG GT Roadster is closer to the base-spec GT coupe with no rear steer, no electronically locking diff and only 503 hp from its 4.0-liter V8.
Key Competitors: Jaguar F-Type, Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911
Base Price: $157,995 As-Tested Price: $179,065
Highlights: Little has changed since the GT C’s Paris debut, though last year Mercedes tuner AMG celebrated its 50th birthday and introduced the GT C Roadster Edition 50. You guessed, it only 50 came to the U.S. So for the purposes of this story, we’re stuck with the standard GT C’s 550 hp, 502 lb-ft and 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds. We’ll survive somehow.
Our Opinion: I could have retired years ago if I had a buck for every time an automaker breathlessly said “our Blastomatic quintuple-turbo sportster offers real racecar performance for the street!!!” So I gave AMG the sideways glance when a few years ago it launched its GT line and said it was meant to bring a taste of race-car-like performance to the street. Here we go again, I thought. Then I drove it. AMG wasn’t playin.’
To refresh your memory the GT C shares more with the mighty GT R than the active rear-steering and electronically locking rear diff. The GT C is a couple inches wider than a base Roadster, making it roughly the same as the GT R. The aggressive-looking GT3-inspired ’50s Panamericana grille has the GT R’s AIRPANEL active air management system — vertical louvers behind the front bumper open and close to improve aerodynamic balance and aero performance.
Time to hit the road. Detroit temps are in the 80s, the skies are blue and the top goes down. Perfect!
I drove the GT C Roadster in Arizona a while ago but wanted to find out how it would handle Detroit potholes. As it did out West, the chassis feels super stiff — no convertible flex, no squeaks or rattles. The convertible’s aluminum spaceframe and body are reinforced in the door sills and with a crossmember behind the seats for added stiffness, so that definitely helps. Reinforcing sills and installing crossmembers adds weight. To compensate, the trunk lid is made from a SMC (Sheet Molding Compound)/carbon-fiber mix. AMG says combining the two is a world first. Meanwhile, the three-layer fabric soft top can raise or lower in 11 seconds at vehicle speeds of up to 31 mph.
No matter the road conditions the GT C is fast, of course. Besides the low zero-to-60 mph time the missile can hit 196 mph. Meanwhile AMG says it is “thirsty for more performance,” but good grief I can’t imagine how much more they could want from a convertible.
The twin-turbo V8 sounds glorious, more so the higher I rev it. Throttle response is instant — there is no lag. Shifts are instantaneous as well, especially in sport, sport-plus and race modes. It’s not bad in the comfort mode either.
The steering is as quick and accurate as the competition and the Roadster feels nicely balanced with grip aplenty and little-to-no body roll. It’s a forgiving machine that’s confident and comfortable when you’re hustling. Indeed, one of the things AMG says it’s most proud of is how everything on the car just works together so well.
In comfort mode the C Roadster is impressive around town, too, just cruising around as smoothly and quietly as you’d want. It turns into a composed luxury two door. The engine quiets down, the steering becomes a bit less razor sharp, the ride becomes more compliant — it’s amazing how the car’s demeanor changes with just a twist of the little ride-control knob. Raise the top and you could almost be in a two-seat S-Class. Almost.
AMG has a car here that looks and performs as a car costing $179,000 should but can loaf around town drama free. Quite an accomplishment.
Base Price: $157,995
As Tested Price: $179,065
Powertrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, RWD, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Output: 550 hp @ 5,750-6,750 rpm, 502 lb-ft @ 1,900-5,750 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,660 lb
Options: AMG carbon ceramic brakes ($8,950); Burmester premium audio ($4,500); AMG carbon fiber trim matte ($3,150); Distronic Plus with lane tracking, blind spot assist, lane keeping ($2,250); AMG carbon fiber engine cover ($1,500); brilliant blue metallic ($720)
Pros: Great to look at, excellent chassis, gonzo engine
Cons: If you want to keep a low profile, this isn’t your car