Whenever a headline grabbing sports car – such as the Mercedes AMG GT – is unveiled to the world, its always worth having a good think about how its respective market stands up in the face of this new competition.
Undercutting its predecessor – the SLS – both in terms of power output and price, the still rather exotic looking AMG GT finds itself keeping a different company of contemporaries in it’s target marketplace.
So with that, lets take a look at the £70-£100,000 sub supercar sports car market.
This is a juicy one and is so for a variety of reasons. How long has this been a discernible segment in its own right?
I’m not sure it is yet but maybe this little round up will clarify things to that end.
It’s always been Porsche 911 & Co really hasn’t it. The quintessential, not super, usable sports car.
For the past 50 years its gone largely untroubled wiping the floor with most, if not all that goes toe to toe. Never before however has the 911 had competition as strong and in such quantity as it does now.
So much so that as aforementioned there appears to be a “911 esq.” segment emerging.
As time, technology and the economy move on so do the power outputs, breadth of abilities and economic market positioning. Spiritual successor to the 911s chief italian rival- now the Ferrari 458 – currently tops 600 bhp and two hundred odd thousand pounds in its most potent output. Next years turbocharged update should see that rise exponentially further.
The 911s evolution aesthetically, fiscally and in terms of its output has been altogether more steady and progressive and so many of the “lesser” iterations have been left to rake in the sales.
But as the Italians climb, many other manufacturers have jumped in for a piece of the Porsche pie.
Kicking off the more recent attack were Aston and Audi with the V8 Vantage and the R8 – more exotic and arguably more desirable alternatives.
Nissan jumped in at the other end- function following form with the bargain but brutal R35 GT-R and more recently Jaguar with the gorgeous yet rabid F-Type.
Chevrolet has always been in the background with the Corvette, but has recently brought it right up to par in C7 Stingray form.
So, enter the AMG GT with exotic echoes of the iconic SLS gull-wing for almost half the price.
The specs have been more thoroughly outlined here, so i’ll spare the nitty gritty details.
Available are the 470 horsepower GT and 510 horsepower GT S on sale for £95 and £110k respectively.
Definitely at the more exotic and expensive end of the camp along with the R8 and V8 Vantage and it takes the fight to them in all the areas that they have in the past excelled.
The interior of the GT is on another level of beautiful, appearing to take influence from the seminal LFA with its swooping centre column. In terms of interior design and appointment then the 911 is hopelessly outgunned right as the R8 and Vantage are also feeling their age.
Both are due replacements- the difficult second album for Audi almost being ready for release, so the AMG GT has the upper hand for now. Though less porky than the 1650kg F-Type which also happens to be £25,000 cheaper than the GT S as well as 30bhp more powerful, it sits heavier at 1570 kg than the projected sub 1500 kg weight of the next gen’ R8.
The 991 sits comfortably at 1490 kilos. The other recently introduced front mounted V8, the Corvette, sits under the 1500 kilo mark as well but offers a standard GT rivalling 460bhp for a staggering £30,000 less than the base GTs £95k asking.
Comparatively then, the AMG GT is stacking up to be a bit expensive.
Its not as powerful as the cheaper F-Type R, not as light as the still cheaper Porsche 991, likely less powerful than the upcoming R8. How then does the AMG GT appeal to the typical 911 driver.
Unlike its more gimmicky less serious more exotic forbears the now more attainable AMG GT has to be sold on strong dynamic merit and be scrutinised as such and in strong company.
As desirable as this segment still is, this smaller amount of money is harder earned by the competing manufacturers.
On the plus side the new engine is a lot lighter and smaller than the dinosaur 6.2 in the SLS and so we can assume the car will be more dynamically honed.
Mercedes themselves have referred to the AMG GT as a ‘drivers car’ on several occasions before. Turbocharging however may have muted some of the silly AMG character appeal that has sold so many of their wonderful cars on whims in the past.
The GT needs to perform in a more serious marketplace.
Next year as we’ve said, is Audi’s move with the next gen’ R8. The timetable for the arrival of a V8 Vantage successor is as yet unknown but is likely a few years off.
The 991 has been spotted out testing its imminent 2016 set up too.
What I can comfortably predict though is that the AMG GT will likely do fantastically well.
Riding off the bow wave of its more exotic SLS and SLR forbears it has an aesthetically obvious lineage of unobtainables that few of its rivals can match. The question is, if it does sell well, whose sales will it steal from?
What of the future for this segment? As discussed, R8 is up for imminent replacement and the Vantage remains long in the tooth. Honda is due to make a return with its new generation of NSX Hybrid. BMW is making its alternative play with the i8. Not a direct performance rival but an object of equal desirability nonetheless. Finally Mclaren with their new “baby” sports car dubbed ‘500S’. That power leaves it right in line with the GT. The future of this segment looks crowded and the competition heated.
What certainties can we bring you regarding the AMG GT and its keenest rivals?
Only one. That they will be brought together to do battle ten times over and we will read all about it.
Best of luck to everyone.