I can’t hear myself think. In normal circumstances that wouldn’t be something to write home about but, at over 270kmph, it can be slightly worrying. My eye is peeled for that horrid bump at the end of the main straight that I use as a braking marker but this car is so quick, and I’m carrying so much speed, I should probably brake 100 metres earlier. Should I ease off before the bump and start shedding speed? I try to do the math but I can’t hear myself think and all the while the GT R is accelerating savagely. How is it still accelerating north of 250kmph?
I remind myself about the ceramic brakes. I remind myself of the nasty things that happen when you brake into the bump. Let’s stick to our usual marker then, the car should be able to sort itself out.
Bump. Jump on the brakes with all my might, boom-boom-boom-boom down the gearbox, eyes peeled for the apex, boom, another downshift, turn in and I immediately have to unwind steering lock. The last car I drove with such hyper-alert and hyper-quick steering had a prancing horse on the nose. Here I am waiting for the understeer characteristic of big AMGs, have apexed early to give myself room to deal with it, but the GT R takes such a big bite of the apex, my line looks like that of a track novice.
Unwind lock. Reach out for the yellow traction control knob. I’ve heard of race drivers trimming traction settings for individual corners to get that perfect qualifying time (don’t tell me you didn’t know race cars now have ABS and traction control!). But on a road car? This is a first! Apparently Christian Hohenadel altered the traction control intervention at every corner to set a new BIC lap record in this very same GT R – more intervention for the faster corners (tail out at 250kmph can beat atheism out of anybody), all the way down for the slower corners and parabola to get the tail out and nose pointing earlier at the apex. No harm trying it out then, even though in my case it is purely showboating for the cameras.
Second gear, floor it on the exit of Turn 4, the tail swings out. Of course it will swing out, there’s 577bhp and only rear-wheel drive but what’s surprising is that the tail swings out, not snaps sideways as one would assume when boost overwhelms grip and everything goes to hell. The chassis generates so much grip, aided by the electronically-controlled limited slip rear differential, that the GT R slides while still gripping and building serious forward momentum. Ease off ever so slightly and play with the throttle, dial in steering lock, power oversteer to a standing ovation. Oh well, there would have been a standing ovation had the grandstands been packed.
Welcome to the hardest, most focussed, loudest and most luridly green car AMG has ever made! This is insane! What were the Germans drinking! You just look at it and go, ‘oh shiiiiit’. The colour is nuts as are all the carbonfibre addenda tacked on to it. Check out that rear wing! Modern sports cars no longer have tea trays drilled onto the boot, instead men in white lab coats solve complicated equations to clean up the underbody and blow the diffuser. But AMG have given the GT R a big ol’ rear wing, which you can adjust yourself if you’re so inclined. At 270kmph, I assume, it generates the downforce equivalent to a baby elephant sitting on the boot. At 0kmph it makes my inner four-year-old go wheee.
Then there’s the so-called Panamericana grille whose vertical fins look like a shark baring its fangs. The tracks are wider – 46mm at the front and 57mm at the rear – and the wheelarches are flared (carbonfibre at the front, aluminium at the rear) to accommodate enormously wide rubber. But it’s not just greasy-nailed hot rodders who have had a go at the AMG GT R. The lab-coat guys have given it active aerodynamics; a section of the underbody beneath the engine bay automatically lowers by 40mm at 80kmph in Race mode, or 120kmph in the other three modes (Comfort, Sport and Sport+) to give it ground effects and suck it to the ground. The assumption is that it won’t be flying over speedbreakers at 120kmph so the lowered ground clearance is okay. And if you want numbers, here’s what I have – 40kg reduction in front axle lift at 250kmph and 155kg more downforce at 300kmph than the regular AMG GT we have on hand.
Regular? It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? A VXi Maruti is better than a regular LXi, is it not? By the same yardstick the AMG GT is ‘regular’ when lined up against the AMG GT R. No carbon bits and bobs, no flared nostrils, no tea tray on the boot. And a sane colour! This is the Roadster and with the top down it looks like the perfect car to go touring across Europe with. We really need to lock up the GT R for a bit to get our bearings right, to look at the GT Roadster in isolation – because in isolation it is a proper piece of thunder. This too has the toothy Panamericana grille. This too is an old-school hot rod kinda car with a hairy chest and lairy rear.
With adjustable drive programs you can tweak the throttle, suspension, gearbox, exhaust and steering, swinging from grand tourer to BIC lap record chaser in the 15 seconds it takes for the canvas hood to power up. The steering is hydraulically-assisted. And with 630Nm available from an astonishingly low 1700rpm, the torque comes in tidal waves in any gear at any speed, all overlaid by a delicious soundtrack from the V8 roaring under full gas and crackle and banging on the overrun. But the god almighty of soundtracks is the GT R.
How they do it god only knows. The V8 is a turbocharged motor and we all know turbo motors are all muted and muffled. This V8 is anything but. It shouts at the top of its lungs. I blipped the throttle on the starting grid and the pops and bangs from the exhaust reverberating through the grandstands made the photographers go deaf. You want instant gratification? The GT R delivers it. The instant you get out of the pitlane and floor it you scream what the f*@k. You instinctively lift off and the explosions from the exhaust inspire even more f*@ks. Forget the R, this is the AMG F. And I love it so much I want to make babies with it.
For now let’s stick to lapping the BIC. The twin turbo V8, hand-built of course, is familiar from the yellow GT S I have blasted round both the BIC, as well as our favourite roads outside Pune but there’s an additional 74bhp to be had, bringing the total to 577bhp. Revised turbos, reworked exhaust ports, lighter dual mass flywheel and other detail improvements mean improved throttle responses. It is lighter, the carbonfibre propshaft and torque tube, magnesium in the front structure and lithium-ion battery knocking off 15kg over the GT S. But I’m afraid that figure is kind of negated by the butter dosas I had this morning.
The GT R gets AMG’s first application of four-wheel steering. It can alter the rear toe angle by up to 1.5 degrees, turning in the same direction as the fronts at speed to improve stability and in opposite directions at low speeds to improve agility by virtually shortening the wheelbase. There’s that yellow knob on the centre console for the nine-way traction control system. Don’t worry, you won’t go spinning down MG road when your girlfriend gives it a twirl. It’s only accessible once you disable the regular three-stage ESP and you’ll love it even more after I tell you that it is very similar to the knob found in the AMG GT3 race car! The brakes? Ceramic-composite brakes with 402mm front and 360mm rear discs. Quoted times? 3.6 seconds to 100kmph and 317kmph top whack. The reality? Savage performance.
Out of corners and down the straights it is as quick as the bullet fired out of that aforementioned rifle. There’s no lag, no stretchiness, no plateauing of torque after which it feels pointless revving the engine – only a relentless and exponential surge in acceleraion. The twin-clutch gearbox snaps as hard and fast as a Rottweiler. And there’s a charging battalion’s worth of small arms fire from the exhausts. It charges all your senses, all at once. The pace is absurd. There’s no let up, no time to catch your breath. Each upshift awakens the bad lands of Uttar Pradesh with an unsilenced pistol shot. The pop on the downshift is a country bomb going off. The theatrics itself are worthy of an Oscar.
The handling is astonishing. AMGs have always had that inbuilt hot rod character, an intoxicating appeal but a bit messy at the limit. With the GT S there was a sense that the tail struggled to keep up with the aggressive front but the GT R is connected; everything is instantly reactive. It finds amazing traction in corners. It resists understeer brilliantly and there’s exceptional grip from the standard Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. Let off mid-corner and you won’t go spinning like a top. Slacken the traction control via that yellow knob and you can have a degree of tail-out attitude that won’t bite if you run out of talent. The breakaway, when provoked, happens progressively, oversteering at a modest angle while maintaining really high corner speeds as you point it down the straight. The savagery of the performance is breathtaking. It reaches into your bag of expletives and exhausts it all. The GT F, sorry GT R, stuffs racetracks into a blender, squeezes it into a sausage and has it for breakfast. Not for nothing is it the beast of the green hell.