It’s fair to say that horsepower ratings have spiraled a bit out of control as of late, what with hypercars having crested the 1500-hp mark and electric luxury sedans delivering in excess of 1000 horses from their sleek, unassuming forms. But in an age when pickup trucks and pony cars alike can be had with more than 700 fire-breathing equines under the hood, it seems inappropriate for a six-figure sports car powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 to get by with a mere 469 horses. This has been the unfortunate reality for Mercedes-AMG’s entry-level GT coupe and roadster. AMG apparently agrees, as the brand has vaulted the base GT models over the 500-hp threshold for the 2021 model year.
True, the GT is available in more powerful iterations. Mid-level GT C models already make 550 horsepower, and the top-dog GT Black Series coupe brings a properly bonkers 720. The regular 2021 GT coupe and roadster’s 523 horsepower and 494 pound-feet of torque—increases of 54 and 29, respectively, over last year’s models—are modest in comparison. But they are sizable gains. Just as important for bragging rights, AMG’s starter V-8 finally makes more power in the GT than when squatting in the engine bay of the Aston Martin Vantage, a key competitor (the standard Vantage makes 503 horsepower, but the F1 Edition still pips the base GT by five horses).
Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
HIGHS: Thunderous V-8 noise, sinister curb presence, quicker than before.
Additional upgrades for 2021 include standard go-fast items that were previously optional or available only on premium GT models: a lighter lithium-ion battery, a Race drive-mode setting, the AMG Ride Control sport suspension with adaptive dampers (formerly a $1500 option), and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential in place of a simpler mechanical unit. Aided by a rear-mounted seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transaxle with launch control, our 3792-pound roadster test car hit 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, a tenth quicker than the 83-pound-lighter 2020 GT coupe we previously tested. While that gap stretches another two-tenths by the quarter-mile, the new car doing the deed in 11.5 seconds, its 127-mph trap speed is some 7 mph faster. By 150 mph, the updated roadster is ahead by a significant 3.8 seconds. Mix in some light-footed cruising while reveling in the car’s increased output, and you’ll average close to the 14 mpg we saw.
Having debuted in 2016, the two-door GT has become a familiar if visceral force on the road. The 1.00 g of grip that our test car demonstrated on the skidpad is on the low end of what we’ve recorded for previous GTs—not to mention most other sports cars of this caliber—and the 155-foot stop from 70 mph matches the figure for last year’s coupe. There’s more than enough stick to squish your body against the seatbelts or into the firmly padded AMG Performance seats. Trundle over lumpy pavement, and no noticeable shakes or quivers filter up through the roadster’s steering column or cowl.
Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
LOWS: Tight cabin, flinty ride, still less thrust and grip than can be had for $132K.
The GT’s sensations of speed are heightened by stowing the roadster’s soft top—an 11-second process that can be done at speeds up to 31 mph—and by a seating position that’s nearly atop the rear axle, forcing you to look out over the cartoonishly long hood. Ride quality remains stiff in any drive setting, the art-deco interior is still confining, and you’re more likely to notice the ease with which you can catch a throttle-induced twitch from the rear end than much buildup in steering effort around corners. But the GT remains thoroughly entertaining, and the roadster’s open-air ambience lets in all the pops and snarls from its thundering active exhaust (86 decibels at full thrust). This AMG is about the theater of speed, even if our Stealth Edition model did its best to keep the GT’s profile low.
Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
AMG’s idea of “stealth” is a bit of a misnomer, though. While our car’s $3950 Designo Graphite Grey Magno paint may not imbue it with the fluorescent-hued flair seen on some of its racier cousins, its moneyed presence and roaring exhaust mean you’d have as much luck sneaking up on someone with a piece of gold-plated field artillery. But the $7150 GT Stealth Edition package that’s available on both base models does add menace by building on the existing AMG Night Styling and Interior Night packages to blacken or darken pretty much every shiny bit on the car, from the brake calipers inside the 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels to the shift paddles on the back of the microsuede-wrapped steering wheel.
AMG’s latest enhancements result in relatively small base price increases of $1860 to $2755, depending on the model. The GT coupe starts at $120,650, and the roadster opens at $132,750. While you’ll have to fork over $149,250 for one like our test car, that’s still roughly $18K below the starting point of the next-rung-up GT C roadster. Of course, horsepower isn’t everything—an equivalent Porsche 911 cabriolet needs considerably less of it to beat the standard GT in every performance measure—but at least GT buyers now have the comfort of knowing that their sports cars are more powerful than every Jeep Wrangler.
2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster
Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door convertible
Base/As Tested: $132,750/$149,250
Options: Stealth Edition (black wheels, upsized to 20 inches in back; AMG exterior dark trim and black brake calipers; AMG performance steering wheel; black interior), $7150; Designo Graphite Grey Magno paint, $3950; carbon-fiber and piano-black interior trim, $2850; Burmester sound system, $1300; keyless locking/unlocking, $800; heated and ventilated seats, $450
twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 243 in3, 3982 cm3
Power: 523 hp @ 6750 rpm
Torque: 494 lb-ft @ 2100 rpm
7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Suspension, F/R: control arms/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 15.4-in vented, cross-drilled, grooved disc/14.2-in vented, cross-drilled, grooved disc
Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport
F: 265/35ZR-19 (98Y) MO
R: 295/30ZR-20 (101Y) MO
Wheelbase: 103.5 in
Length: 179.4 in
Width: 76.3 in
Height: 49.6 in
Passenger Volume (C/D est): 54 ft3
Trunk Volume: 6 ft3
Curb Weight: 3792 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 3.4 sec
100 mph: 7.3 sec
1/4-Mile: 11.5 sec @ 127 mph
130 mph: 12.1 sec
150 mph: 17.0 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 4.0 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.5 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.7 sec
Top Speed (mfr’s claim): 193 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 155 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 322 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.00 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 14 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 17/15/20 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
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