In 1954, Mercedes Benz made a major move. They took their very successful Grand Prix car, the 300 SLR, toned it down and put it on sale to the public. The result was the infamous 300 SL Gullwing – an automobile which dawned the age of the supercar. At this point, I’m sure many of you are screaming “Lamborghini Miura” at your screens. But, very bluntly put: you are wrong. The Gullwing had stunning innovative looks, cost more than a mansion and was the fastest production car of its time (boasting an astronomical top speed of 260 km/h). That pretty much ticks off every item on my supercar checklist.
After their first foray into supercars, Mercedes just stopped. They continued making SL’s with larger engines. However, nobody would call those supercars. The return didn’t come until 2004 with the SLR developed together with McLaren. The SLR was designed to beat speed records but also be comfortable and easy to use on a day-to-day basis – a feat which it accomplished in strides. After the SLR, Mercedes decided to bring back the Gullwing in all its madness. They called it the SLS AMG. Some absolutely loved it, others didn’t. One thing is sure though, it was not tame.
Upon retiring the SLS, AMG engineers decided to revisit the everyday supercar idea. They kept the basic design of the SLS, rounded off the edges and removed the stupid doors. The result is a more civilized-looking car. It may not win any beauty contests but it’s a huge improvement from its predecessors and a lot closer to the original Gullwing. They also took out the 6.2l V8 and replaced it with a more modest 4l twin-turbo V8 as well as making the boot bigger. It was not an easy task they set out for themselves. So, did they succeed?
My AMG GTS day started in the forest somewhere around the town of Lausanne, in Switzerland. On these deserted roads I was able to get a real feel for the car. And what a feeling it was. The GTS felt so planted as I chucked it into corners. This is due to the clever design of the engine. While it still sits in the front they’ve pulled it way back. The turbos are also placed inside the V of the cylinders. The result is a drastically improved center of gravity. Nonetheless, you can definitely get the rear-end out for some sideways action when you want to. However, you won’t have to wrestle it like a bear as you would the SLS.
The exhaust tone is a lovely V8 rumble with all the pops and bangs you could want. I wouldn’t call the car slow, but if you consider the league it’s trying to compete in it could have a bit more oomph. Either way, the car is ready to give you power whenever you need it and it delivers it fast, real fast. And when you want it to stop the carbon ceramic disk brakes take their job very seriously, making you look like one of those squished-face bulldogs. All in all, the GTS just barely limps in to the supercar category, but it’s there for sure and making its presence known.
Heading in to town, I made a beeline for the old-town to try out the car on some narrow cobblestone roads. While the suspension was a bit stiff on the bumpy parts the car fared well. I mean, for how long are you realistically going to be driving on cobblestones? It’s not the 15th century. The GTS was actually able to squeeze through some real tight spots where I was sure I would have to reverse back out. It also managed a tight parking garage and parallel parking with ease.
The gearbox in rush hour traffic was a delight and the boot was more than large enough to fit all my shopping. The smaller engine also meant that my fuel consumption in town was quite good. My one complaint would be the brakes. They go from zero to brick wall in a matter of seconds, which is a bit less than ideal when all you’re doing is slowing down to let a pedestrian by.
Honestly, after putting the car through its paces I am going to make a bold statement. Assuming we can agree that it is in fact a supercar, I think the GTS is the perfect daily supercar. Show me another car with the same wow-factor, a boot that can fit a cow, 0-100 speed in the 3-second range, luxurious interior with all the bells and whistles, and a second-hand price tag just under 130’000€.
If you want more misha-style car reviews you can check the Ferrari FF Balloons Challenge.