You could buy an E-Class or CLS-Class, but why would you?

Verdict 7.1 / 10

 

Mercedes-Benz sells so many different models that it’s valid to question the brand’s decision to create the AMG GT 4-Door. On the surface, this car is a four-door “coupe” version of the bonkers AMG GT supercar. Beneath the skin, however, it’s really another variant of Mercedes’s MRA platform that underpins mid-size sedans such as the E-Class and CLS-Class. Those two cars also have AMG variants, and the CLS-Class is even a four-door “coupe” like the GT 4-Door (although Mercedes says there won't be any overlap). The opportunity for model overlap and sales cannibalism is rife, and yet we’re so glad the GT 4-Door exists.

Why? For one, it’s the first four-door ever made by specifically by AMG for AMG; the rest have all been variants of Mercedes-Benz models. This once outside tuning arm for the brand has finally come into its own. Second, even if they don’t share the same platform, the GT and GT 4-Door share a spirit that hits us in ways other cars don’t. We can’t wait to get into them and drive. And third, the GT 53 4-Door model we’re testing here is the rare exception where a car’s “base” model may be your best choice. We say it in quotes because the GT 53 4-Door is anything but basic.

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Design 8/10

The exterior of the GT 4-Door is one of the most beautiful designs on sale today, at least in your author’s eyes. It’s a remarkable achievement considering this car’s design is merely a derivative of another’s – the two-door AMG GT. But the rounded, muscular form works so well as a four-door, too. The E-Class, CLS-Class, and GT 4-Door may all share mechanical underpinnings, but the latter’s design is one reason it commands a higher price than the other two.

Our GT 53 4-Door tester also features a number of exterior upgrades that are like lip gloss on a supermodel: they’re not necessary for its status, but they don’t detract from it, either. The most obvious upgrade is the color, an optional hue called Designo Brilliant Blue Magno, a gorgeous matte finish that costs an extra $3,950. While we’re happy to review a car in this color, we wouldn’t pick it ourselves, and not just because of its price – it’s high maintenance, too. You can’t take it through a car wash, and wiping it down even requires a special cloth, lest you harm the finish.

Another exterior upgrade are optional 21-inch AMG cross-spoke wheels with gray accents that cost $3,450. These wheels look fantastic, particularly wearing a set of high-performance tires. Even if you don’t choose these 21-inch steam rollers, you should at least upgrade from the standard 19-inch wheels to the available 20-inchers because the base set look far too small for the car.

We’re more mixed about the GT 4-Door’s interior. The good news is that the quality of the materials and craftsmanship of the build are typical Mercedes, which is to say excellent. Every surface feels expensive and nothing squeaks or rattles. Our tester came optioned with a $2,850 Carbon Fiber package. While more convincing than most carbon fiber-like materials we’ve encountered, the pricey package is a box that could be left unchecked to save some money. After all, you’ll need those funds to plow into the Nappa Leather package that costs $4,450 (but feels so good to the touch).

In terms of design, though, the interior of the AMG GT 4-Door is far busier than other Mercedes sedans. In addition to the twin 12.3-inch display screens and physical climate controls that come from the brand’s parts bin, the GT 4-Door gets two columns of four buttons each along the sides of the center console. These oversized buttons feature tiny digital screens for their faces, which is a cool and premium touch, but comes off as overkill since nearly all of the functions they control can be accessed elsewhere.

That brings us to the steering wheel, which is also festooned with controls. Its mixture of metal, suede, and carbon fiber is a delight to handle, but the buttons, scroll wheels, toggle switches, touch-sensitive pads, and even screens – yes, screens – are an ergonomic overload. The aforementioned screens are drive mode selectors on either side of the steering wheel’s bottom spokes. A $400 option, they adjust the same modes as some of the big buttons on the center console. We recommend saving the $400 and using the controls you get for free.

Comfort 8/10

When talking about comfort, a car’s seats are a good place to start. This GT 4-Door has AMG’s optional performance seats, which are a $2,500 extra. As high-performance thrones go, they’re very good with extremely stiff and deep bolstering designed to keep you in place. However, they’re out of place on this particular car, which, remember, is the “base” model GT 53.

With its more modest power, the GT 53 doesn’t require serious performance seats like the far more powerful GT 63 and GT 63 S. In this car, they’re a pain to get in and out of, uncomfortable to sit in, and not able to be used as intended. They make much more sense in the 63 cars that offer up to 201 more horsepower.

That said, the GT 4-Door does offer space aplenty for all four passengers, and it’s just four, as the rear features two bucket seats with no three-across bench option. Despite the car’s slick profile and sloping roof, headroom is good for all onboard, as is leg room. This here is a genuine four-person executive shuttle.

With the rear sporting a hatchback instead of a traditional trunk, the GT 4-Door also offers excellent cargo space that’s particularly useful when the rear seats fold forward. Mercedes hasn’t released an official number for how many cubic feet of cargo the GT 4-Door can hold, but it’s definitely more than an E-Class can manage. It can also better fit items of various shapes and dimensions.

Noise levels inside the GT 4-Door are excellent as well, with the same vault-like atmosphere most Mercedes offer as a baseline. The GT 4-Door’s auditory experience, though, is configurable thanks to an optional AMG Performance exhaust system that costs an extra $1,850. It’s remarkable tech in that it can take the rather serene note of the GT 53’s inline six-cylinder engine and transform it into that of a popping, snarling monster. The soundtrack is both fun to hear and addicting to create. It’s best heard with the car’s engine mode set to Dynamic.

Like the engine, the GT 4-Door’s AMG Ride Control sport suspension also comes with modes ranging from Comfort to Sport and Sport Plus. Each mode has its own character, with Sport Plus tuned for the best possible conditions – flat roads, lots of turns – to enjoy the car’s handling envelope. Comfort, though, is an excellent mode for daily driving, with enough damping and isolation dialed in to handle potholes and heaves but an equal amount of control so the car doesn’t drive sloppily.

Performance & Handling 9/10

It might seem strange we’ve given the “base” version of the AMG GT 4-Door such a high score in this category, but the 53 model earns its points here thanks to a remarkable powertrain. A turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine powers the 53, producing 429 horsepower and 384 pound feet of torque. It’s hiding an ace, though, in the form of a 48-volt mild hybrid system that powers an electric compressor attached to the turbocharger to produce an extra 21 hp and 184 lb-ft when required.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is, but at no time can you perceive how furiously this duck is kicking beneath the surface. Underfoot, the 53’s engine acts more like a large-displacement V8 with easy and endless power available at all engine speeds. The charade becomes complete with the car’s aforementioned optional exhaust system that sings an eight-cylinder’s song.

Yet, drive the 53 GT 4-Door like a limousine and it will whisk you around with the serenity of an S-Class. That bark can be deactivated and the engine will slip imperceptibly between the nine gears of its automatic transmission. All it takes to change character, though, is a twist of the steering wheel’s drive mode controller (or a press of its center console button) and a flick of the metallic paddle shifters.

In Sport Plus mode, something magical happens. The 53 seems to shed weight and increase the speed of its reflexes. This mode makes performance-minded changes to the throttle, transmission shifts, suspension, and steering all at once, and from behind the wheel makes the 53 feel as light on its feet as a dancer. Again, flat roads and turns with more charm than a 90-degree angle are required to appreciate this mode, but find them and you will be rewarded.

Technology & Connectivity 8/10

Mercedes’s COMAND infotainment system is well regarded for a lineage of versions that have been solid from the start. In this latest version you get giant, twin 12.3-inch screens, a touchpad controller on the center console, and touch-sensitive nubs on the steering wheel. It all comes off as sufficiently modern and high-tech.

COMAND’s feature list includes your greatest hits: standard navigation, Apple CarPlay (though no Android Auto), and a Burmester sound system. Controlling the system, though, can be hit or miss with the touchpad and steering wheel controls. Navigating the on-screen menus with the touchpad can be difficult, and the steering wheel controls can accidentally register unrequested inputs or register too many inputs at once. Changing the satellite radio station just one channel, for instance, takes a delicate touch, lest you end up five stations ahead. Also, the main 12.3-inch infotainment screen isn’t a touchscreen (unlike in MBUX-equipped cars), so these two inputs are the only way to get what you want.

The GT 4-Door also comes standard with a wireless charging pad for your smartphone, but it’s hidden and damn-near inaccessible behind the car’s two front cup holders. If your phone’s charging and a bottle goes in one of the cup holders, it’s effectively trapped.

The good news is that nearly all of the GT 4-Door’s tech features come standard. The only options on our tester were the AMG-ified head-up display for $990 and a 115-volt AC power outlet for $115.

Safety 8/10

The GT 4-Door comes standard with a basic set of advanced safety features that includes automatic emergency braking, parking sensors, and blind-spot monitoring. The rest is contained within a Driver Assistance package that, for the relatively reasonable price of $2,250 (this is a six-figure car, after all), comes with full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Altogether, the Driver Assistance package’s features create Mercedes’s version of a semi-autonomous driving system. Set the adaptive cruise on the highway to a certain speed, and the system will steer, brake, and accelerate for you. It’s not as natural in how it drives as Tesla’s system, but it’s passable and a great help on long drives. Like Tesla’s system, though, it’s not fully autonomous and requires your input quite often to prove you’re still paying attention.

Unfortunately, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested an AMG GT 4-Door yet, so it hasn’t been rated by either institution yet. However, the 2019 E-Class that shares its underbits with the GT 4-Door earned the highest Top Safety Pick+ award from IIHS.

Fuel Economy 4/10

Don’t let the GT 4-Door’s average score in this category fool you. The 53’s engine does a remarkable job providing as much power as it does with a relatively low carbon footprint. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the GT 53 4-Door at 19 miles per gallon in the city, 24 on the highway, and 21 combined. That may not sound impressive, but it is for a super sedan that can reach 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds, and based on our experience, those numbers are genuinely achievable in the real world. Premium fuel, however, is a must, not just a recommendation.

Pricing 5/10

The starting price of a Mercedes-AMG GT 53 4-Door, which is the least expensive GT 4-Door available, is $99,000. You can kiss five figures goodbye immediately, though, because the base price does not include a destination charge of $995.

Our GT 53 4-Door tester had an out-the-door price of $127,300 – destination included. Its nearly $30,000 of optional content included big ticket items like a full leather interior ($4,450), that brilliant blue matte paint job ($3,950), bigger 21-inch wheels ($3,450), carbon fiber interior trim ($2,850), AMG performance seats ($2,500), the Driver Assistance package ($2,250), and a performance exhaust system ($1,850). That’s not even the full list of options that run more than $1,000 apiece, but you get the idea: Mercedes’s catalogue of extras isn’t a cheap one to flip through.

What’s most interesting about the GT 4-Door’s pricing is that it begins where pricing for the similar CLS-Class ends. The CLS-Class comes in three flavors, the most expensive being the AMG CLS 53 that has the same powertrain as the GT 53 4-Door but at a much lower starting price of $79,900. Loaded to the hilt, though, the AMG CLS 53 can crest $115,000. So what’s the GT 53 4-Door’s closet competitor? An equally powerful and similarly equipped AMG CLS 53.

Competitors:

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT53 4-Door

Engine Turbocharged 3.0-liter I6
Output 429 Horsepower / 384 Pound-Feet
Transmission 9-Speed Type Automatic
Drive Type All-Wheel Drive
Speed 0-60 MPH 4.4 Seconds
Maximum speed 174 MPH
Fuel Economy 19 City / 24 Highway / 21 Combined
Seating Capacity 4
Base Price $99,900
As-Tested Price $127,300

Gallery: 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT53 Review

Photo by: John Neff