Mercedes is expanding the AMG GT family for 2018

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C RoadsterCourtesy photo

Mercedes certainly loves its AMG GT family. And what’s not to love? Those sleek, muscular lines. The no-nonsense performance. The whiff of retro racing essence, and a hood as long as an aircraft carrier. All that and more came together back in 2014 to make instant classics of the stylish two-seat sport coupe GT and its beefier sibling, the GT S (456 and 503 hp, respectively).

Figuring, probably correctly, that you can never have too much of a good thing (namely, the superlative twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 at the heart of every AMG GT), Mercedes is upgrading and expanding the AMG GT lineup for 2018.

First up — a convertible version of the GT. Next, the lunatic GT R coupe, with 577-hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. And finally, slotting in between the base GT and the super-crazy R, is the brand-new GT C class, available in both coupe and roadster versions, both with 550-hp and 502 lb-ft of torque.

All AMG GTs are extraordinary cars. But it’s the brand-new GT C Roadster that’s got automotive media types drooling.

A closer look at the AMG GT C Roadster

The GT C Roadster takes its muscular lead from the R, boasting the same active rear axle steering above 62 mph, an electronically controlled rear axle locking differential and wide rear fenders. The same variable performance exhaust system issues a symphony of sweetly fierce notes as the 7-speed dual clutch transmission shoots the 3,600-pound C Roadster from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, just a hair slower than the R, on its way to a top speed of 196 mph.

To keep weight low, the GT C Roadster features a reinforced aluminum body and spaceframe, and the trunk lid is made from a combination of SMC (Sheet Molding Compound) and carbon fiber.

And there’s that face. That omnivorous grille, culled from the 1952 300 SL Panamerica and brilliantly updated, seems to say that the AMG GT is serious about eating the competition. When viewed roaring into your rear-view mirror, the new maw — it’s on all AMG GTs — is aggressive, assertive, intimidating and signals even the most clueless drivers (of whom, sadly, there are many) that it’s time to move to the right. Like, now.

The interior is as bold as the exterior. The wide, wide dashboard creates an impression of a powerful wing. High beltlines, concave door panels, a high center console and low seat position integrate the driver into the cockpit. Fit and finish of all materials is Mercedes-perfect, and the new, optional Macchiato Beige Exclusive Nappa leather interior cossets driver and passenger in a splendid world.

Best of all, the top goes down! If there’s ever been a two-seater screaming to go topless, the AMG GT is it. And while we really like the new AMG GT convertible, we love dropping the three-layer soft top on the more powerful AMG GT C, and we can do it in 11 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph. Colors: black, beige or red.

All this goodness will set you back only $157,000. Before options, of course.

AMG-Mercedes plans even more additions to this already dizzying array, which we can safely assume means a roadster version of the GT S coupe, and a 456-hp, four-door version that’s still under wraps but possibly the company’s worst-kept secret.

To what do we owe this wealth of Teutonic AMG goodness?

One word — Porsche.

Mercedes will never admit it, of course. But it’s fun to envision white lab-coated engineers at AMG’s headquarters in Affalterbach, Germany, aiming Tom Terrific super-spy telescopes at their Porsche counterparts in Stuttgart, a mere 30 kilometers away. Amid consonant-rich curses, they mutter guttural vows to overtake the froggy-faced, perennially popular, basically untouchable 911 in all its glorious and unassailable incarnations.

Will the AMG GT series be the one to finally topple the temple of 911? Well, Mercedes will always be Mercedes, and Porsche will always be Porsche. But even Porsche diehards might admit, albeit grudgingly, that the AMG GT series is getting well within hailing distance.

Brian Melton inherited his love of cars from his mom: She drove, with an unrepentant lead foot, several T-Birds, a black Jag MK-2 and a much-loved silver Mercedes 450SL.

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