The Glorious GT S Heralds a New Era for Mercedes Sports Cars

On a computer screen it looks small and flat, with a tail that recalls a mashup of its forbear, the SLS AMG, and the sloping, half century-old tush of the Porsche 911. But in the flesh, the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S presents a grab bag of unfamiliar complex curves. With subtly scooped surfaces and angled sheet metal, each feature comes alive from a different point of view.

Seen from above, its convex nose appears to reference the AC Cobra 427, while the slender tail lamps seem like a nod to the BMW Z8. All of which begs the question: Doesn’t this two-seater from Affalterbach remind you of everything and nothing you’ve seen before? In a weird way, yes—and that’s just the beginning of the mind-melt that is the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S, the all-new sports car from the 128-year-old German carmaker.

Gullwing Roots

The GT S is the new flagship for Mercedes-Benz’s high-performance sub-brand, AMG. Equipped with a new 4-liter V8 biturbo engine, it’s expected to run from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and start for around $115,000. Those numbers put it on the same level as the juggernaut that is the Porsche 911, along with foes like the Audi R8 and Jaguar F-Type Coupe. The price also represents a comparatively attainable alternative to past range-toppers like the SLS AMG ($275,000 in its most expensive form) and its predecessor the SLR McLaren, whose starting price approached the half-million dollar mark. Consider the GT S a comparatively attainable halo car.

While the GT S marks a step down in price, Mercedes-Benz had enough confidence in the car’s performance to host its press launch at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, home to 2.238 miles of legendarily tight turns. On top of its most famous feature, the 5 ½ story drop-off that is the Corkscrew, there’s also some high-speed, off-camber stuff and a straightaway that features a wet-your-pants blind kink at its fastest point. Game on, AMG.

“It doesn’t stand for Grand Touring,” he says, admitting that a version of the car is already being developed for racing homologation—which makes any insinuations towards comfy, long distance travel a moot point.

The two initials lend themselves well to suffixes for future spinoffs, Moers says, like ‘R’. “Isn’t GT R already taken?” He pauses, transmits a tractor beam of a stare back at me, and utters a definitive “No.” The one word response confirms everything I suspect about this curvy car: It is both singular and universal. Its core essence isn’t about its high-dollar predecessor, but rather about the bigger, grander, more iconic idea of a sports car which will undoubtedly unfold and refine itself as its inevitable spinoffs take form.

In its debut guise, the GT S proves to be one hell of a starting point, a promising seed with countless possibilities for spinoffs. But strip away the engineering, the technology, and the marketing, and the Mercedes-AMG GT S simply becomes a strikingly original way to hurdle two adventure-seeking individuals through space—a magnetic quality that promises to make the German brand more relevant than ever to a new generation of driving enthusiasts.

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