Most roads aren’t good enough for the new, second-generation Mercedes-AMG GT 63 Coupe. Interstate highways are too straight and monotonous. Streets in cities are too congested with lesser machines. Convoluted roads across mountain ranges are often so tight that there isn’t an opportunity for AMG’s one-person-assembled, 577-hp, twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V8 to find its roar and rocket. On roads that aren’t special enough for it, the GT 63 kind of sighs, shrugs its 78.1-inch wide shoulders, and then transmits its disappointment up through its thin-shelled sports seats into the butts of those in the cockpit. A road must be damned spectacular to live up to the GT 63’s talents.
On the right road—sensuous and curving, challenging but forgiving, and open to romping —the GT 63 will consume it and spit a legend out its tail pipes. Assuming, of course, the driver is hero enough to keep it in one of the aggressive drive modes.
The GT63 is the top of the AMG line, but most of its substance is either familiar or at least seen before. The basic chassis is the all-aluminum AMG platform introduced on the current SL roadster. The “M177” engine is already planted in the noses of many AMG sedans, SUVs, roadsters, and coupes, and the nine-speed Mercedes automatic transmission is what Mercedes uses in virtually everything with a longitudinally positioned engine. What the GT 63 does is amplify all those parts and pieces.
In appearance the new GT 63 carries forward the design of the first one. AMG’s Panamerica grille is, duh, right up front, The hood is long enough to give the illusion that the engine is set well back (it isn’t), and the roof peaks at the driver’s head before cascading back to the plump rump. There’s a lot of Mercedes throwback heritage incorporated, but it still seems fresh, And the long hood/short deck proportions are becoming rare as the 21st century skids toward the end of its first quarter.
The 106.3-inch wheelbase is long for a close-coupled GT (10.2 inches longer than a Porsche 911’s), but that length means that the GT 63 now has room enough for a semi-serious back seat. Let’s call the rear chairs a homage to sitting rather than accommodations. It’s a place to throw tennis gear or for a Spanish Mastif to settle when it’s time to haul him to the vet. Maybe some small children could fit back there for a short trip to Baskin-Robbins. Whatever, the GT 63 is a true two-seater.
With a 186.1-inch overall length, there’s plenty of overhang forward of the front wheels. The tail, though, is tidier. The 10.5-inch-wide, 20-inch-diameter front wheels wear 295/35R20 Z-rated Michelin Pilot Sport 5 tires (successor tire to the Sport 4S, obviously), while the rear 11-inch-wide, 20-inch-diameter wheels are inside 305/35R20s.
There was a time—oh, maybe eight months ago—when a 305-section rear tire footprint would be considered massive. But on the GT 63, these rollers don’t seem so chunky. Maybe that’s because the AMG has resisted the temptation to flare the body gaudily around them. Instead, the appearance is athletic and sleek. More wide receiver than middle linebacker. At the preview drive in Granada, Spain, the style-conscious populace was often mesmerized by the parade of GT 63s.
If there’s such a thing as too much tech, the GT 63 has too much tech. Everything the driver touches, hears, and feels is moderated by some digital whiz-bang doodad. The instrumentation is digital with most everything controlled by the two large screens—one in front of the driver and one centered but canted slightly toward the driver. That’s a set up that is, well, like way too many other cars. And what isn’t controlled on the screen, operates though capacitive touch-sensitive switches vulnerable to inadvertent swipes or knocks.
A note to AMG: EVERYONE LIKES VOLUME KNOBS. Include on all future products.
Mercedes-AMG has also innovated on the steering wheel with a new “double spoke” design. There’s nothing the matter with the flat-bottom wheel’s diameter or the squishiness of its leather cover, but those spokes are problematic. The double spoke design enables the cramming of ever more controls onto the wheel. It’s particular frustrating to those of us who sometimes grip the spokes for leverage—not that that’s a Bondurant-approved driving method. Throw in two round knobs for controlling the drive modes and suspension settings, and it’s a mind-boggling steering wheel.
Hit the ignition and the V-8 starts up to a purr with a bit of growl coming from the exhaust. The transmission is activated by a wand right-of and behind the steering wheel. Engage “D” and there’s a sense the whole structure has been sent a jolt of adrenaline. The transmission can be operated by paddles behind the steering wheel, and that should be the most fun.
But in “Comfort” mode, the transmission doesn’t respond crisply to the paddle triggers. And the exhaust is too quiet. The steering feels remote. So, get the Hell out of Comfort. In “Sport” things are vastly better. In “Sport+” they are better still.
In Sport+ the transmission reacts quickly to inputs, the steering is taut and the exhaust sings a trilling tenor. This isn’t an electric powertrain, so the engine must climb to reach its 516 lb-ft of peak torque. But it’s not a long ascent, with that peak coming at 2250 rpm and remaining consistent up to 4500 rpm. The redline is up at 7000 rpm, but it’s rarely necessary to venture past 6000. There’s plenty of grunt on tap.
During the part throttle trip up Andalusia’s Sierra Nevada range, the switchbacks meant using a lot of steering angle. And, alas, the paddles aren’t long enough to always be easily reached during such cornering. Still, that’s just a challenge, not a deal breaker.
The AMG chassis’ suspension is super brilliant. Both up front and in back, most articulation is inside the wheels. It’s double wishbones and coil springs both fore and aft, but that’s only the start. There are no anti-roll bars aboard the GT 63 as they’ve been replaced by a hydraulic stabilization system that smartly seems to learn the road, anticipate how much stiffening is necessary to each side, and then digitally distribute pressure effectively. Mercedes-AMG calls it “semi-active anti-roll stabilization.” Whatever. It’s all computerized voodoo, but it works. Given the chance, the GT 63 feels as if it’s knitting itself into the road. There must be an adhesion limit, but finding that would entail exceeding the car’s driver-saving features, and that wasn’t going to happen during this limited exposure.
While the rack-and-pinion steering isn’t super quick and never talkative, it is precise. And the long wheelbase shrinks thanks to a rear steering system that ladles in up to 2.5-degrees of wheel angle. This is a big and heavy car that feels about 73 percent of its actual size.
Bomb into a corner, add some angle, hit the apex, find the right gear, and the driver feels the all-wheel-drive system pulling the nose as hard as it’s pushing the tail. Even as the overcast came and moistened the Sierra Nevada’s roads, there’s never a sensation of slipping or sliding.
There’s also a “Race” mode that seemed inappropriate to engage on a narrow public byway. But the mere notion of this ravenous thumper on a track is delectable.
But AMG has also built in what amount to sub-modes as well. Up in Race, for instance, there’s a “Master” mode that balances the GT 63 for a slight oversteer condition, adds more aggression to the steering response, and knocks out a lot of the stability features. To engage Master, the driver turns the ESP system to either ESP Sport handling or ESP OFF. This is racetrack stuff and not for dopey journalist antics on unfamiliar territory. More exposure is necessary… and eagerly anticipated.
Yes, there’s active aero available—and there’s another 2000 words to be written about that. Of course, there are 64 different mood lighting options for the interior because 63 would have been too demure and 65 too vulgar. Naturally the seats are actively working to hold the driver in. This is a car for rich people, and they’re going to always know they’re driving something special. Even if they give up learning all the features and controls because there are other worthwhile things to do. Like buying an English soccer club, cornering a commodities market, or seducing several foreign supermodels/spies with the goal of getting them to betray state secrets.
For the record, Mercedes-AMG expects the GT 63 Coupe to jet to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds in the press materials. On their web site, a 0-100 kph (62 mph) slam is predicted at 3.2-seconds. The quicker clocking seems plausible. Top speed is electronically limited to 183 mph.
The GT 63 Coupe should be on sale early in 2024 with prices up close to $200,000 with options. There will also be a less powerful GT55 model which seems, well, pointless.
But only buy it if you have good enough roads near you. Or at least near one of your homes.
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