Words by Aninda Sardar
Photography by Gaurav S Thombre
By German standards he isn’t particularly tall and if you ran into him on any other day you would be forgiven for thinking that Chris is just another tourist. But the soft spoken man with the blue eyes is actually the man who has set the fastest lap of the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in a production car. And the car that set the time of 2:09.853 minutes? Well, that is actually the car that I am now piloting around the same circuit!
Just a day after Mercedes-Benz India launched the Mercedes-AMG GT-R at Rs 2.23 crore and the convertible GT Roadster at Rs 2.19 crore, ex-showroom, the company offered a select crop of auto journos a few laps of the BIC in these two monstrously fast and gorgeous supercars. Both are powered by the same four-litre V8 twin turbo petrol engines but the GT-R makes a bit more power and torque at 577bhp and 700Nm as against the GT Roadster’s humbler 470bhp and 630Nm.
Exiting the pit lane at the mandated 60kmph both cars feel incredibly easy to drive at pottering speeds. You see the peak torque of the GT-R kicks in at about 1900rpm and then stays with you all the way through to 5500rpm. In the case of the topless GT Roadster the peak torque is made available from 1750rpm to 5000rpm. The result? That incredible ability to coast ahead at slow speeds. Cross the lane limiting line, step on it and the soft V8 burble transforms into a throaty snarl as the cars shoot ahead. Acceleration is absolutely feral as it pushes you back into the alcantara sport bucket seats.
At BIC, the exit of the pit lane corresponds roughly with the entrance of Turn 1, a tight right hander that must be negotiated at slow speeds. This is followed by a 90-degree left hander that sees you up a slope for tricky Turn 3 where you must finely judge your braking and entry since you can’t really see the apex of the right handed hairpin that precedes the long back straight. As you come barreling down the main straight you carry incredible speed approaching the braking marker for Turn One. Hitting the brakes hard, shedding speed to the thunderous sound of downshifting, I flick the steering right and am instantly caught unaware as the GT-R hints at a desire to oversteer. None of this stuff had happened a few minutes ago when I had done the very same thing at the same turn with the Roadster. You see the GT-R is the first AMG car ever to feature rear wheel steering, which means at speeds below 100kmph, like at turn one, the rear wheel turns opposite to the direction of the front wheels thereby allowing the car to turn with surprising agility. On the fast right handed parabola however where you’re above 100kmph, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels, inducing a mild form of automated opposite lock that keeps the vehicle on course. It is fantastic.
The fact that the bosses in Stuttgart are able to balance this phenomenally performance orientated machine with the right amount of comfort that a Mercedes owner would want from his vehicle is a huge plus. Apart from looking as good as it does from the outside, both the AMG GT-R and GT Roadster offer the highest levels of craftsmanship. Cabin quality is superb and there is a fantastic Burmester music system for the musically inclined. Personally, I’d rather swing to the symphonies of the quad exhaust.
Three laps per car is hardly enough to compose a review that does genuine justice to vehicles of this nature but from whatever I could gather of the Mercedes-AMG GT-R and the GT Roadster, they do have the potential to redefine one’s idea of a GT car.