Why the new Mercedes-AMG GT R is the David Hasselhoff of sports cars
The nickname of the Nissan GT-R is "Godzilla." Now that Mercedes has its own GT R, this begs the question: What — or who — is the German equivalent of Godzilla? I reckon it's David Hasselhoff. Accordingly, I say we nickname this Teutonic GT R the "Hoff."
You're welcome, Mercedes.
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Mercedes-Benz officially revealed its latest and greatest sports car Friday morning, the Mercedes-AMG GT R, which takes the lion-like GT S and adds more power and extreme performance.
For those of you unaware of the new Mercedes nomenclature, the GT R's "Mercedes" brand moniker is followed by "-AMG" instead of "-Benz" because it was created by the brand's performance arm, AMG. Standard Mercedes get the "-Benz" suffix, while the sportiest of models are branded "AMG." Make sense?
Like the GT S, the GT R is powered by a 4.0-liter Biturbo V8 engine that produces 577 horsepower and 517 pound-feet of torque. That small mountain of power is routed to the rear wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle in the rear of the car.
All said, it can do a 0 to 60 mph sprint in 3.5 seconds on the way to its top speed of 198 mph.
On the GT R, the rear wheels do more than propel the car forward. They also steer as well. Four-wheel steering allows for sharper handling and quicker turn-ins. Not that it needed much help there.
AMG designers widened both the front and rear fenders, which let them give the car a wider stance. With wider tires and a broader posture, the GT R is an even keener cornering machine than it's little brother the GT S.
Discerning observers will notice that the front and rear fascias of the GT R have been reworked, compared to those of the GT S. Perhaps the most striking difference is the new "Panamericana" front grille with 15 chrome-plated vertical fins inspired by the racing version of the car.
That, I am afraid, isn't the only race-car-inspired part of the GT R.
Mercedes brags most of the car's development was done at the infamous Nurburgring racetrack in Germany, nicknamed the "Green Hell." Because of that, the distinctive new green paint color for the GT R is called "AMG green hell mango," which, if I'm honest, sounds more to me like the codename of a military action than a paint color.
The racing circuit certainly informed the car's color. But will also it affect its drive quality?
Let me explain why this might be more troublesome than titillating.
Regular watchers of Top Gear might recall former presenter James May complaining about how Nurburgring-based development ruins cars. When it comes to the Nissan GT-R, I wholly concur. That's because Godzilla is a monster to drive daily — in a bad way. It's hard, loud and unwieldy.
Will the Hoff — sorry, the GT R — be equally unpleasant to drive because of its Nurburgring parentage? Based upon how well the GT S performs, chances are good that engineers of the GT R didn't lean on the all-too-common crutch of bolting up bone-crunching suspension or over-stiffen the chassis in order to achieve better lap times.
I guess we'll have to wait to find out sometime next year, as Mercedes says the GT R won't be available until mid 2017.