“It costs how much?!” exclaimed a slightly annoyed passenger after struggling to get comfy in the un-reclineable Alcantara-covered carbon fibre bucket seat that greeted her. Clearly, this was not the ideal ride for a Valentine’s evening she had initially pictured.
What didn’t help was the thunderstorm that hit the Klang Valley that same evening. Never mind the post-work traffic crawl, the rain-drenched streets saw the car in question’s Dynamic Select switch left in Slippery mode for quite a while; the conditions weren’t great for race-derived tyres and ceramic brakes.
It wasn’t until much later that evening that the chance came to finally flick that switch again, this time into Sport+, presented itself. Having cleared the MEX Highway’s Salak South Putrajaya-bound tollgate, I did what anyone would in such situations – I floored the pedal.
As my passenger got thrusted back into her seat, the terrified look on her face was clear, her mind perhaps boggled by the triple-digit readout of the digital speedo in front of me, not forgetting the monstrous soundtrack the tailpipe is singing.
It took a while to turn her terrified look into a thrilled one, but that sprint was worth a telling off that ensued after. You would bear it too when tempted with 585bhp and 700Nm. Welcome, then, to the ridiculously fast and focused hot seat of the Mercedes-AMG GT R.
Universally, when you add the letter R to any car’s name, it means one thing – Race. On that note, this refreshed AMG GT R lives up to the expectations of any R-lettered track special; half roll cage, striking yellow four-point harness and gleaming red fire extinguisher included.
Though perfect for weekend track day jaunts, it did feel a tad too much for the street. If I were to nit-pick, my biggest gripe lies in how the half-cage’s scaffolding just behind the seats blocked most of the view through the rear windscreen and rear-view mirror.
Nevertheless, these quirks don’t dampen the AMG GT R’s eagerness to hit the streets. At least there are things like an Apple CarPlay-equipped infotainment screen and crisp-sounding Burmester hi-fi present that make it a little more date-friendly – luxuries most track-specials skimp on.
Things got better that night after coming across some unpopulated Kajang-bound B-road stretches snaking the outskirts of Putrajaya. Still in Sport+ mode, the AMG GT R’s chassis truly shined here, making light of the corners I carved at… ‘modestly’ spirited pace?
Once up to temperature – one of many readouts the interactive digital dash has – the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres shod on all four corners deliver all the stickiness warranted for such jaunts. The same can be said about the AMG Ceramic brakes lurking behind each one of them, all working in tandem to easily halt this track special without protest.
As far as street-legal cars go, the mechanical grip in the GT R is almost unrivalled, which in turn helps build greater confidence to tackle bends quicker. Adding to this affair is the perfectly weighted and ultra-accurate steering in Sport+. Get your corner lines right and this beast is one to savour.
Also race-derived are the clever electronic suspension and dampers which, when set in Sport+ mode, are guaranteed to shake all of your bones loose when driven through the city. It does soften up when the Dynamic Select is flicked into Comfort or Slippery modes, as does the throttle sensitivity.
However, let’s not digress at how the AMG GT R simply doesn’t feel ‘at home’ in modes other than Sport and Sport+. There is a Race mode on top of that too, which enables the bright yellow selectable Traction Control level knob just below the AC vents in the centre of the dash.
Sadly, since a track, or anything resembling it, wasn’t accessible, exploration in Race mode was something left unaccomplished. In truth though, either Sport or Sport+ will suffice for the streets as all 585bhp and 700Nm of twist are fully accessible in both, albeit with some restraint.
Even then, the AMG GT R is still a handful for the uninitiated. Get to grips with it and it delivers all the fun one can have on the streets without breaking a sweat, or some traffic laws. The bonus here is the stellar soundtrack courtesy of Affalterbach’s renowned hand-built 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8.
Fancy making vocal arrivals? This mill gladly obliges, especially when the sports exhaust is unleashed in Sport+. The switches and knobs for both drive modes and exhaust settings are present in the centre stack flanking the shifter, as well as on the bottom half of the steering wheel – the latter now granting easier access.
Whilst here, there’s also a button to extend or retract the forward air dam. When deployed, the AMG GT R’s aerodynamics gets beefed up further, ensuring it sticks to the road at high speeds. Just don’t forget to retract it before entering the city, or parking lots – ground clearance will be an issue if it isn’t.
Throughout our weekend test, there wasn’t a dull outing with this so-called ‘Beast of the Green Hell’. It can be a bit much at times, but there’s a surprisingly high amount of character that will charm anyone into eventually loving it, aforementioned terrified passenger included.
Moreover, the fact that something this extreme isn’t as unobtainable as other track-specials is a huge treat; most usually double up as a limited-run special like the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. This proves that ‘special’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘rare’, so as long as you can muster up the Ringgits for one.
Aptly, a supercar this ridiculous usually comes with an equally absurd price tag, but I’ll argue that RM1,712,888 is a bit of a bargain. It is still as quick, focused, and equally as theatrical as any other limited track special, only you don’t have queue up to get this one, or pay extra to cut said queue.
Yes, this much madness is indeed obtainable, and the inclusion of Merc’s stellar aftersales services only adds to its desirability. The only question I found myself asking now is which of my kidneys I love more...
Get to grips with it and it delivers all the fun one can have on the streets without breaking a sweat, or some traffic laws
Note: This drive was conducted in February 2020. Please comply with the ongoing movement control order as per the government's guidelines.
|Stellar soundtrack, race-derived goodies and speed, and the theatre of it all||Slightly too track-focused for the street perhaps?|