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2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Test Drive Review
When you want to emphasize outright style and performance over all else, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG 4-Door Coupe is the four-passenger Benz to get.
Mercedes calls this member of the AMG GT family a four-door supercar, and that’s an apt description. Not only can the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe deliver superior levels of performance, but it also provides superior levels of luxury and, believe it or not, practicality. In effect, it is multiple vehicles in one, capably serving a variety of purposes. And that means few superlatives can describe just how fantastic it is to drive.
Look and Feel
Mercedes-Benz was the first automaker to market a car as a four-door coupe. The original CLS, a gorgeously-penned automobile based on the third-generation E-Class platform, proved instantly alluring when it debuted more than 15 years ago, supplying the style and sex appeal utterly lacking in the comparatively dowdy sedan with which it shared its underpinnings.
Today, the Mercedes CLS continues using the same recipe it always has, but now it is the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe that generates lascivious looks wherever it goes. A member of the high-performance AMG GT family, which also includes a two-door coupe and matching roadster body styles, the 4-Door Coupe comfortably accommodates four adults and a good bit of their luggage loaded over a high rear sill through a wide-opening hatch. Think of it as a Kia Stinger hailing from Sindelfingen, but with gobs more power, performance, technology, and sophistication.
As good a car as the Stinger is, the comparison doesn’t do the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe justice. Neither does the car’s word salad of a name. It deserves a better moniker than it has, something to inspire lust and desire at its mere mention, something beautiful to see and to say, like “Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.” But in German. If such a thing exists.
You can get the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe in GT 43, GT 53, GT 63, and GT 63 S specification, each denoting substantial increases in power and performance. Pricing starts at an MSRP of $89,900, not including a mandatory destination charge of $1,050. Our test car arrived as the GT 63 S ($161,900 plus destination) and it had nearly $40,000 in extras tacked onto it.
Painted Designo Brilliant Blue Magno—a flat finish that looks sensationally good—our test car looked like a custom one-off. You’d think we wouldn’t see another GT 4-Door Coupe wearing the same hue during a week behind the wheel. But sure enough, heading down a canyon road in Malibu as we headed up, along came a clone of our car but with the rather obnoxious monoblock-style wheels in a light gray finish. Ours had the far more appealing black forged aluminum 21-inch wheels fronting optional carbon-ceramic braking components.
Carbon fiber was everywhere: roof, rear wing, interior, you name it. The test car also had the AMG Night Package (blacked-out appearance) and the AMG Aerodynamics Package (to keep the car glued to the ground). The end result was a machine that attracted long stares no matter where we drove it. As we watched from the patio dining area of one restaurant, men circled the car in a parking lot, drool likely collecting on their lower lips as they ogled the styling.
Open a door to get inside, and you’ll be surprised by what you find. First, it’s not as difficult to enter or exit the car as you might expect. Second, if you’re familiar with modern Mercedes vehicles, you’ll immediately recognize the dual-screen Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) digital instrumentation and infotainment screens. Third, aside from center console controls that are conceptually similar to what’s installed in the AMG GT Coupe and Roadster, the GT 4-Door Coupe’s cabin has more in common with the CLS than anything else.
That’s neither a criticism nor a complaint. The design makes the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe far more user-friendly than expected, but with appropriately-differentiated materials, bespoke controls, and a mix of bold and subtle details that convey performance first, and luxury second.
We don’t usually review these kinds of cars, so perhaps we’re easily impressed. Or amused. Either way, every drive in the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe is gratifying in ways both small and large.
On the practical side of the ledger, we discovered that this Benz doesn’t scrape its nose on everything like a recently-tested BMW M850i Gran Coupe did. On the emotional side of the ledger, the AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe might just be the best damn car we’ve ever driven.
As a point of clarification, the car does not share a platform with the AMG GT Coupe and Roadster. Like the CLS, the GT 4-Door Coupe is based on the same foundation as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan but is kicked up several notches. The slowest version, the AMG GT 43, accelerates to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. The fastest version, the AMG GT 63 S, holds the lap-time record for luxury cars on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Developed entirely by Mercedes-AMG, the GT 4-Door Coupe’s spec sheet is a laundry list of performance upgrades that touch every mechanical component, and the company continually modifies and refines the underpinnings to ensure superior acceleration, braking, ride, and handling qualities.
Our GT 63 S had a hand-built twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine cranking out 630 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, enough to deliver a claimed 3.1-second run to 60 mph. A nine-speed multi-clutch automatic transmission transmits the twin-turbo V8's power to a performance-tuned 4Matic all-wheel-drive (AWD) system with an electronic limited-slip rear differential. All versions of the 4-Door Coupe are AWD, while the two-door Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe and Roadster are available with rear-wheel drive (RWD).
Multiple driving modes are available, including Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Race, each producing a more explosive and almost violent response to the driver’s inputs and the road surface. Alternatively, you can mix-and-match drivetrain settings, depending on your preferences. A Race Start feature serves as launch control, a Drift mode allows you to endanger your six-figure sheet metal, and the car includes a three-stage traction and stability control system.
Additional hardware includes brake-induced Dynamic Cornering Assist, active rear-wheel steering, a performance-tuned air suspension, a performance exhaust system, and high-performance composite brakes. As an option, ceramic composite brakes produce an instantaneous response and stopping power.
Obviously, the GT 63 S is overbuilt for public roads. To explore the car’s maximum performance potential, you need a closed course and heroic driving talent. But this doesn’t detract from its thrilling dynamism in the real world, whether you’re rounding a perfectly banked on-ramp and rocketing onto a freeway or tackling an off-camber, decreasing radius hairpin curve on a road you know better than the lines on your face.
Where you’ll get into trouble in this audaciously capable automobile is blending velocity with the unknown. As is true in any car, this is a recipe for disaster. The difference with something like the GT 63 S is that it masks speed to such an extent that you might be unaware of how fast you’re actually going. Until the unexpected happens, of course.
Case in point, we encountered significant rockfall on Malibu’s Encinal Canyon Road at the same time oncoming traffic was approaching in the oncoming lane. Fortunately, our speed was within reason and the ceramic composite brakes brought the GT 63 S to an immediate stop. After the oncoming vehicle passed, we picked our way around the jagged shards of terrain and continued our journey into the mountains.
Perhaps what’s more instructive than smothering the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe with dynamic superlatives is to share its demeanor during the daily drive. Place the car in Comfort mode, quiet the otherwise raucous exhaust, and it adopts a remarkably suave and sophisticated character. Outward visibility is decent, too, and the GT 63 S won’t beat you up over imperfect pavement. The fact that it doesn’t scrape its front end on driveway aprons, drainage dips, or speed humps makes it even easier to use every day, and for every purpose.
As much as we loved driving the GT 63 S, unless you absolutely must exercise bragging rights at the country club or cigar bar, or it's really important to you to accelerate to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds, or you intend to track the car to use its hardware and software in the manner AMG intends, the GT 43 or GT 53 are more sensible selections. And as we’ll see in the next section, that sensibility extends beyond price and performance.
Form and Function
Designed to seat four people, the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe is more than a typical 2+2 style of car. The back seat easily accommodates adults, and while the test vehicle had the optional, heavily bolstered AMG performance front seats, they proved comfortably snug and perfectly supportive.
We piled a family into the GT 63 S for a jaunt into Los Angeles from the outer reaches of its suburbs, and nobody complained. Entry and exit proved easier than expected, the climate-control system helped everyone keep their cool on a hot day, and because it has a wide-opening rear hatch and a generous 12.7 cubic-foot cargo space measurement, it could credibly serve as a long-distance road-tripper for four with some creative packing. Just keep in mind that the trunk’s liftover height is high.
Currently, the GT 4-Door Coupe has fixed individual rear seats, with folding versions an option. You sit up higher than expected, enjoying terrific leg support and a good view out. For the 2022 model year, Mercedes will offer a folding rear bench seat that expands passenger-carrying capabilities, making this emotional automotive purchase even more practical.
Though an infotainment touchpad, transmission shifter, and controls for the dynamic settings dominate the real estate on the center console, Mercedes does provide a shallow but sizable storage bin underneath a split center armrest cover. Large door panel bins also provide storage, in addition to a useful glove compartment. A storage tray with cupholders divides the rear bucket seats, and passengers also benefit from door panel storage.
The upshot here is that while the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe looks great and drives better, you need not give up practicality in order to attain sports car style and performance.
Lifted straight from the CLS and E-Class models, the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe’s MBUX infotainment system pairs two flat 12.3-inch display screens under a single piece of glass, living under a brow that reduces glare. Vivid color, a friendly user experience, and legitimately natural voice recognition are hallmarks of the technology, though the touch-sensing steering wheel pads take some acclimation to use quickly and accurately.
As you would expect, the touchscreen MBUX system equips the GT 4-Door Coupe with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, navigation, and numerous Mercedes Me connected services. It also features near-field communications for secure, wireless connectivity. A wireless charging pad is standard, and the GT 63 S includes a standard Burmester premium sound system.
Though complex, MBUX is easy to use and configure. This is especially true if you’re familiar with how modern smartphones and tablet computers work. It is worth taking the time to go through everything to configure the myriad features and functions to your personal preferences in order to limit interaction with the technology later.
An optional MBUX Interior Assistant adds gesture control to technology, but our test vehicle did not have this feature. The navigation system did come with the available augmented reality system, which employs the car’s front camera to show super-imposed navigation instructions as you drive. It is particularly helpful in busy, densely populated areas or when driving after dark.
A surround-view camera is optional and is a necessary upgrade to ensure maximum visibility and maneuverability. It is almost essential when parking the car. However, the available dashcam feature is not. In fact, depending on what you do with the car while the dashcam is turned on, it may record evidence you’d rather it hadn’t.
Though our test vehicle did not have it, a Driver Assistance Package is an option for the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe. It installs no fewer than 14 different driver-assist features, and while we didn’t necessarily miss having them, when you’re blowing this kind of cash on a car, you might as well spend another two grand to get this upgrade.
Based on previous experience with these technologies in other Mercedes models, we’ve got a couple of favorite elements of this package.
The first is Active Emergency Stop Assist. With the adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assistance features active, this technology springs into action when the driver takes his or her hands off of the steering wheel for an extended period of time. Presuming the driver is unresponsive due to a medical emergency (or a nap), it attempts to rouse the driver and, if unsuccessful, will bring the car to a safe stop in the lane of travel with the hazard lights flashing.
Another useful component of the Driver Assistance Package is the extended re-start function when you’re stuck in stop-and-go traffic. It allows up to a 60-second stop before automatically resuming travel. Beyond that, the driver must initiate acceleration.
Active Lane Change Assist will steer the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe into the adjacent lane when you’ve got the adaptive cruise control and lane-centering technologies active, as long as another vehicle is not in the car’s blind spot or approaching at a rapid rate from behind.
Finally, we’re fans of Congestion Emergency Braking, which can identify when a stationary vehicle is suddenly evident in the GT 4-Door Coupe’s path and take immediate emergency braking action to avoid a collision. This is helpful when a car ahead of you changes lanes and you’re abruptly faced with stopped traffic in your lane.
These are just a handful of examples of the technology that comes in the Driver Assistance Package. It’s worth having, even if you don’t intend to use all of the features and functions.
Sometimes, you get what you pay for, and the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe is a good example. From its relative rarity to its blistering performance, and from its sensuous design to its surprising practicality, the GT 4-Door Coupe exceeds expectations in all of the right ways.
While we think most people will be quite satisfied with the powertrains offered in the GT 43 or GT 53 versions of the car, those with means will want “the best.” In this case, the GT 63 and GT 63 S stand ready to deliver more performance than you can possibly access outside of a controlled environment. Yet, at the same time, our loaded-up test car proved itself remarkably easy to drive at less than grossly unlawful velocities, without punishing its driver or passengers in the process.
Equal parts sports car and luxury car, with the added utility of a sportback-style hatch and large cargo area, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe is multiple vehicles in one ready to serve multiple purposes. And if that’s not a cost-effective way to spend your wealth on a mode of transportation, we don’t know what is.
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