Mercedes-AMG GT R: 570bhp sports car to make debut at Goodwood

Mercedes-AMG GT R: 570bhp sports car to make debut at Goodwood

The hotly anticipated Mercedes-AMG GT R looks set to make its world debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this June, after Michelin listed the car as an attendee for the event's Supercar Paddock.

The track-inspired version of the range-topping GT has already been spotted during development testing in the cold climates of the Arctic Circle, but its display at the 2016 event will be the first time Mercedes has officially shown the car to the public.

When it eventually goes on sale, the new two-seater is expected to be a key rival to Mercedes' Stuttgart neighbour Porsche and its highly rated 911 GT3 RS. It'll be built on the same assembly line as the GT and GT S at Mercedes-Benz’s Sindelfingen factory in Germany.

The GT R is the third in a planned five-model line-up and is the most aggressive incarnation of the GT yet. Together with an upgraded engine delivering around 570bhp, it receives heavily reworked underpinnings developed as part of a homologation package for the GT3 race car unveiled at last year’s Geneva motor show.

Although AMG remains tight-lipped about production plans for the GT R, information supplied to dealers by Mercedes-Benz suggests volumes will be limited in a move that will push the price of the GT R well above the £110,500 of the GT S.

Reflecting its track focus, the GT R receives a number of functional aerodynamic upgrades aimed at improving airflow to and from the engine bay, as well as increasing the downforce acting on the front and rear axles for improved stability and cornering speeds.

The GT R has a new front bumper that features a prominent splitter element, along with an enlarged central air duct and altered secondary ducts on each side.

These are joined by a modified duct within the trailing edge of the long front wings, wider rear wings and a boot-mounted carbonfibre rear wing. In addition, there is a new rear bumper that houses a horizontal air duct to extract hot air from the rear differential, a large hexagonal-shaped central exhaust and a reworked dual-channel diffuser.

However, the most distinctive stylistic change is the adoption of what Mercedes-AMG officials describe as a new Panamericana grille originally unveiled on the track-only GT3 race car late last year.

Inspired by the grille treatment of Mercedes-Benz’s 1952 SL Panamericana race car, it features an altered shape along with 15 vertical slats among the familiar three-pointed star emblem. The effect is to give the GT R a more instantly aggressive presence than the standard GT.

According to a leading member of the Mercedes-Benz design team, the new grille is set to become a signature element of future AMG models, replacing the blade-style treatment of today’s models.

As part of efforts to reduce the kerb weight of the GT R below the 1570kg of the GT S, its bonnet, wings and bootlid are made from carbonfibre. Although the GT R has yet to undergo certification at the hands of the German Transport Authority, AMG insiders hint that weight has dropped by up to 60kg, suggesting it will hit the scales at around 1520kg in production trim.

By comparison, the smaller but less powerful 911 GT3 RS has a kerb weight of 1420kg.

The weight-saving touches continue inside, with the GT R sporting a lightly reworked version of the standard GT S’s dashboard and manually operated seats, among other changes.

Mercedes-AMG’s latest model is powered by a more heavily tuned version of the GT and GT S’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine. New performance-enhancing features include a revised inlet manifold, extra boost pressure and a more free-flowing titanium exhaust system.

Details remains scarce ahead of the new model’s unveiling this summer, but sources close to Mercedes-Benz’s performance car division say the M178- designated V8 will pack in the region of 425kW. This equates to 570bhp, which would give the new GT R at least 60bhp more than the GT S.

AMG’s powertrain engineers, headed by Christian Enderle, have also raised the torque loading of the 90deg V8. Again, nothing is official, but Autocar has been told the new track-focused model is to receive up to 552lb ft, or some 70lb ft more than the less highly tuned version of the engine used in the GT S.

To put this into perspective, the naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat six engine used by the latest 911 GT3 RS kicks out 493bhp and 384lb ft. The added reserves of the GT R are channelled through a strengthened version of AMG’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transaxle gearbox. It features revised ratios and a recalibrated electronically operated rear differential.

Although development has focused more on providing the GT R with added circuit prowess than outright speed, the new model is expected to undercut the straight-line performance of the GT S, which has an official 0-62mph time of 3.8sec and a 193mph top speed.

The underpinnings have also been suitably upgraded, with adjustable springs and dampers, revised bushings up front and a rear axle that is bolted directly to the body structure. The wheels have a diameter of 19in up front, with 275/35 tyres, and 20in at the rear, with 325/30 tyres.

The introduction of the GT R later this year will not be the final flourish for AMG’s high-performance coupé. Plans also call for the launch of an even more powerful GT Black Series next year, as well as a GT Roadster in 2018.