2019 Mercedes-AMG GT63 S 4-door coupe first drive: Too tunable


Car reviews / Четверг, Сентябрь 27th, 2018

In 1995, Columbia University professor Sheena Iyengar performed a study on choices. She concluded that having too many is a bad thing because if, say, you choose from three options, you only miss out on two. Not so bad. But if you pick from 20 choices, you miss out on 19. That can lead to people feeling worse about their choice, regardless of the result.

The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT63 S 4-door coupe offers too many choices.

Take drive modes, which Mercedes calls “AMG Dynamic Select,” for example. The AMG GT 4-door has five: slippery, comfort, sport, sport-plus and race. Then there are the “AMG Dynamics” settings that include basic, advanced, pro and master (I’ll get into what those mean in a second). You got three modes for the traction control, two for the exhaust and three for the suspension, all of which can be adjusted independently via an array of buttons on the steering wheel and center console. That means there are at least 360 ways to configure the car. Would you be faster in "advanced"? Possibly. More comfortable? Maybe. No matter your choice for this trip or lap, you’ll have missed out on 359 of them. And, of course, that number does not include choosing between using the manual or paddle shift.

From Mercedes’ point of view, this means that every customer can adjust the coupe-like sedan’s characteristics to exactly what they like. The cynic in me says the company should pick the best way and be done with it.

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 12019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 1

1 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 22019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 2

2 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 32019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 3

3 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 42019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 4

4 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 52019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 5

5 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 62019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 6

6 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 72019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 7

7 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 82019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 8

8 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 92019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 9

9 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 102019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 10

10 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 112019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 11

11 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 122019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 12

12 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 132019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 13

13 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 142019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 14

14 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 152019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 15

15 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 162019 Mercedes-AMG GT interior Photo 16

16 of 17The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT comes in 53, 63 and 63 S guise. The two buttons on the left side of the steering wheel are customizable, the drive mode switch is not. &nbsp

First drive 2019 Lincoln Nautilus mid cycle facelift brings the Lincoln look numerous featuresNautilus Next Gallery: First drive 2019 Lincoln Nautilus mid cycle facelift brings the Lincoln look numerous features » First drive 2019 Lincoln Nautilus mid cycle facelift brings the Lincoln look numerous featuresNautilus

17 of 17Next Gallery: First drive 2019 Lincoln Nautilus mid cycle facelift brings the Lincoln look numerous features &nbsp

We get two versions of the AMG GT 4-door in the U.S.: the GT53 and GT63. The GT53 comes with the company’s supersmooth new 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-six with an electric auxiliary compressor, EQ Boost starter-generator and 48-volt electric system. Peak output is 429 hp and 384 lb-ft. The EQ Boost system makes 21 extra hp and 184 additional lb-ft in short bursts. The best part about the new powertrain, which we’ll see in a lot of Mercs soon, is that the electric torque fills in the gaps at low revs, and then the traditional turbos take over at higher rpm. The GT53 uses a nine-speed transmission with a torque converter; the GT63 and 63 S come with a nine-speed that replaces the torque converter with a multiclutch system. Both have all-wheel drive, which Mercedes calls 4Matic.

Six-cylinder-equipped cars get AMG’s sport suspension with steel springs and adaptive dampers; V8 models have a multichamber air suspension, also with adaptive dampers. Suspension is independent and in a multilink configuration on both axles. 63s also get an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, which works with the AMG Dynamics settings mentioned above.

Selecting different AMG Dynamic Select drive modes adjusts throttle mapping, damper stiffness and steering characteristics. AMG Dynamics, meanwhile, is something different. That adjusts the electronic skid protection, all-wheel-drive system, rear-axle steering and rear differential. According to Mercedes, it uses a multitude of sensors “to ascertain speed, lateral acceleration, steering angle and yaw rate.” It anticipates how the vehicle should behave, based on the driver’s actions. You want more oversteer? Go to master. More understeer? Basic. So many choices.

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 12019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 1

1 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 22019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 2

2 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 32019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 3

3 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 42019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 4

4 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 52019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 5

5 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 62019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 6

6 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 72019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 7

7 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 82019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 8

8 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 92019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 9

9 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 102019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 10

10 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 112019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 11

11 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 122019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 12

12 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 132019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 13

13 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 142019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 14

14 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 152019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 15

15 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 162019 Mercedes-AMG GT in matte blue Photo 16

16 of 17Mercedes offers black and blue matte paint jobs for the 2019 AMG GT 4-door coupe &nbsp

First drive 2019 Lincoln Nautilus mid cycle facelift brings the Lincoln look numerous featuresNautilus Next Gallery: First drive 2019 Lincoln Nautilus mid cycle facelift brings the Lincoln look numerous features » First drive 2019 Lincoln Nautilus mid cycle facelift brings the Lincoln look numerous featuresNautilus

17 of 17Next Gallery: First drive 2019 Lincoln Nautilus mid cycle facelift brings the Lincoln look numerous features &nbsp

In the spacious cabin, with plenty of headroom front and rear, Mercedes-AMG puts together one of the best interiors you can find anywhere. The AMG sport seats are tight and thin with high bolsters that hold passengers in place even under loads of lateral gs. A giant double screen stretches almost from the driver’s-side door to the passenger seat and is as customizable as the new center console. That console, which sort of resembles the Porsche Panamera’s, uses eight little screens as buttons, which go dark when the car is not in use. There are also two more customizable buttons on the steering wheel, along with a drive mode select dial. The redundant volume adjust is one of the eight on the console, but it is an up/down switch that needs to be pressed repeatedly or held. A simple knob would be better.

Instead of the one hockey puck-size jog dial, Mercedes now uses a mousepad-type controller similar to those in the new Lexus vehicles. We didn’t love it there; we don’t like it here.

The back has plenty of space for adults, and the cargo area looks absolutely cavernous with the seats folded down. I’d guess a twin-bed mattress would fit. For the second row, buyers can specify two sport buckets or an executive package with a big center console/armrest that includes a screen for controlling nav, radio and climate functions.

The Execution

The styling on this AMG GT63 S 4-door coupe is polarizing. About a decade ago, it seemed like designers were looking for the most complicated shapes they could possibly imagine for sheetmetal. But like the great Dr. Alan Grant “Jurassic Park” quote: Your scientists (designers) were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.

This design is way cleaner, simpler than past Mercs. In matte black or blue, like our testers, it almost looks like a featureless blob from the side. It definitely has Porsche Panamera-like features, but in person those are less prominent. The Porsche looks and feels longer, though they’re within inches of each other. The GT 4-door is about 2 inches taller.

Inside, there is plenty of room for a helmet with my 5-foot-10-inch frame. The seats have a ton of adjustment, including under the knee, for a nice cradled, low driving position. The bolsters are almost too high for scooting over comfortably. The suede-covered wheel features a check mark at 12 o’clock, something I’m very cognizant of as I strap into the driver’s seat, staring at turn 1 of Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

You know about my love for this 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. It’s one of the best and best-sounding V8s on the market right now. In this GT63 S, it makes 630 hp between 5,500 and 6,500 rpm and 664 lb-ft from 2,500 to 4,500. Launching in any mode — except for slippery, didn’t try that one – is neck-snapping fast, and shifts from the nine-speed multiclutch trans are seamless in lower modes and snappy in sport-plus and race. It makes a small sound in those higher modes, I wouldn't quite describe it as a thud or thunk, maybe a “click.” And in those modes, it’s accompanied by a small shove. As it should at this level. Power feels endless.

I take off in sport-plus mode, and as intimidating as the turn 1 hairpin looks at COTA, the road is plenty wide, so you have room to play around. I go through in second gear, no problem. Next comes a series of ess turns. Like many tracks, it's important to hit the apex at the beginning of the series, or you'll be all out of sorts when you get to the end of them.

Steering feel is good, but not great. You're better off listening to the tires than trying to feel them out at the wheel. Effort is perfect though. light at slow speeds. But at the F1 track, the wheel is nicely weighted. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires offer good stick, but the GT understeers first when grip is used up. Of course, in “race” driving mode, “master” AMG Dynamics mode and ESP off mode, oversteer is where you’ll go. Or maybe it would be better in “comfort,” “pro” and ESP on? Wing up or down? Who knows?

I see about 165 mph on the back straight on my last pass, which had me in the ABS and missing the apex of turn 12 by about 20 feet. Luckily the giant carbon-ceramic brakes are ready, and I’m still a few yards before the edge of the track. That's the only tense moment; otherwise, the yellow-painted clampers are rock solid and provide consistent pedal travel.

On the road, comfort mode soaks up much of the Texas backroad imperfections. It’s an AMG, so expect some noise over expansion joints. It doesn’t tram over blacktop dips, but it does crash once over a Michigan-size pothole.

It is hard to keep this thing at legal speeds, as the power is so smooth. I see triple digits a few times entering the expressway, and on long, straight highways, one can go much faster than that. If you pick a white or black one, nonmatte finish, you’ll probably blend in a little more. But the blue matte does look the best.

The Takeaway

I think that’s the key: looks. I don’t think the AMG GT63 S 4-door coupe looks better than the current Porsche Panamera, but it definitely looks better than the old one. Like I said, the new Porsche sedan looks lower and stretched. This looks more humpback-y.

I haven’t driven a new Panamera on the track either, so I can’t compare them there. It feels like this GT63 would be better, but I’m just guessing. On the road, I’d take the Panamera, for sure. As for price, expect something in the neighborhood of $150,000.

So those are your choices for a “four-door-sports-car hatchback,” and with each of them you have settings, drive modes, wing adjustments and a million other things to fidget with. Hopefully you don’t miss out on that perfect setting that makes you feel like a hero. I’m sure I did.

On Sale: First quarter of 2019

Base Price: $150,000 (est.)

Powertrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, nine-speed multiclutch, AWD

Output: 630 hp @ 5,500-6,000 rpm; 664 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,000 rpm

0-60 MPH: 3.1 seconds

Pros: Endless power, typical gorgeous Mercedes interior, supportive seats

Cons: Looks are polarizing, you may have missed the perfect tuning setup