2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster Review: Performance Over Pleasure
– Miami, Florida
The Mercedes-AMG GT range has grown since inception; buyers can now choose four different variants, from the base GT model to the hardcore GT R. Though not as intense as the range-topping R model, nor as basic as the entry-level GT, the middle-ground GT C Roadster delivers tons of power and style at this price point. Unfortunately, it lacks some of the basic elements that make up a good GT car.
If there were one word to appropriately describe the AMG GT C, it’d be “striking.” Its long and lovely profile has the ability to draw eyes from a mile away, and its convertible top – which can close in just 11 seconds at speeds of up to 31 miles per hour – further enhances the overall aesthetic, especially when down. But that’s not to say the GT C Roadster is the best-looking vehicle at this price point.
The Mercedes-AMG GT C resembles a caricature of a supercar with an outrageously long nose, a stubby rear end, and oversized wheels. The massive Panamericana grille and equally daunting Mercedes-Benz logo embedded within it are overstyled for the otherwise sleek fascia. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and most buyers dishing out more than $150,000 for this AMG must undoubtedly think it’s pretty stunning.
The Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster is a rocket just waiting to be launched. Stomp on the gas pedal – in any of the five driving modes – and the 550-horsepower, biturbocharged 4.0-liter V8 roars to life. Turn the dial to Sport+, and that neck-snapping acceleration is accompanied by a raucous exhaust note and a stiffer suspension. Paddle shifters paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, which come close to rivaling Porsche’s PDK in both speed and crispness, help the AMG GT C Roadster sprint to 60 in just 3.6 seconds.
Corners are also no match for the AMG; standard rear-wheel steering and a quick rack make the vehicle scalpel sharp in the corners, if not a little too twitchy in everyday driving. The fat rear tires (size 305/30ZR-20) provide direct feedback from the road, and also assure that all that power stays firmly planted on the pavement, even in the tightest, quickest corners.
Although outrageous speed and precision handling are a high point of the AMG’s performance credentials, it doesn’t make for the most road-friendly daily driver. Comfort mode is a hilarious oxymoron in this case; the stiff chassis, paired with low-profile tires and massive wheels, make the GT C Roadster back-breaking over rough roads. There’s plenty of wind noise admitted by the convertible top, too, even when it’s raised.
The cabin is cluttered with buttons and dials, with some even tucked up underneath the air vents. Seat heating and cooling features are especially hard to locate from the driver’s seat given their position part-way underneath the vents. Thankfully, the discord in design is compensated with high-quality leather and carbon fiber materials throughout, with only a bit of piano black trim to detract from the otherwise outrageously lavish cabin.
The sporty Recaro seats are form fitting, as you would expect, but not all that comfortable. The sultry Saddle Brown Exclusive Nappa leather with diamond stitching looks and feels as expensive as it undoubtedly is, but doesn’t provide a whole lot of cushion to help buffer your buttocks from the stiff suspension.
The lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a big turn-off in a vehicle of this price, and drags the otherwise impressive system down dramatically in score. The Mercedes-Benz Comand infotainment system is millennial-friendly and easy to use, with navigation, satellite radio, and a few extra apps with animated displays. Paired to a remote dial with an additional touchpad surface, it’s easy to navigate the tablet-style 8.4-inch, too, driving or otherwise.
Standard safety features come aplenty in the GT C Roadster. Pre-collision warning with automatic braking, blind spot assist, lane keep assist, parking sensors, automatic high-beam headlights, and a wide-angle parking camera are available at no extra cost. The latter was particularly useful given the AMG’s poor sight lines, both front and back.
That said, I found the blind-spot warning system to be overly sensitive, giving off both visual and audible warnings if I had my turn signal on too near to a fence, bush, or tall curb. The automatic braking feature also worked brilliantly on road in one instance, but thudded the vehicle to a stop during two separate parking attempts when it shouldn’t have.
Don’t let the standard stop-start button fool you, fuel efficiency is low on the list of the AMG GT C Roadster’s selling points. It returns 20 miles per gallon on the highway, 15 in the city, and 17 combined. The McLaren 570S (16/23/19), the Corvette Z06 (15/22/18), and the Porsche 911 Turbo (19/21/24) are all better on that front.
The AMG GT C Roadster is competitively priced among high-power convertibles at $159,000, which makes it less expensive than the Audi R8 Spyder ($177,100), and the 570S Spider ($208,000), but slightly pricier than the Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible ($121,900). But once you start ticking the many option boxes, things begin to get pricey. This particular test vehicle topped out at $179,065, with optional features like a $720 Brilliant Blue metallic paint finish, a $3,150 AMG carbon fiber trim package, and an AMG carbon ceramic braking system that cost a whopping $8,950, among others.
Photos: Jeff Perez / Motor1.com