Most vehicles on the market today are purpose-built, for a certain demographic or target market.
In the case of two-door coupés that cost over $150,000, they’re made for two very specific reasons. One is for the elite that can afford to purchase and enjoy these vehicles to their potential, and the other is to create halo products that inspire dreams for enthusiasts of all ages. This is the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster, a sleek grand tourer that has immense capability and a soul-stirring personality.
The Mercedes-AMG GT series was brought in for the 2015 model year as a flagship two-door, obviously under the AMG umbrella of Mercedes-Benz. Since the vehicle’s introduction, we have seen a few different variants, ranging from the standard GT Coupé (which starts at $134,400), the GT S, and the monster GT R. The GT C is the only way to get the soft-top Roadster model in Canada, and it’s a thing of real beauty. Classic roadster proportions, a long hood with a Panamericana grille and an active spoiler on the rear decklid – this is a recipe that makes those around the car stare in admiration.
AMG cars have a history of exhibiting muscle, both visually and in the form of raw power. The GT C takes the sharp styling of the GT and widens the stance, making for an overall vehicle width of 79 inches (from 76.3), also widening the track by 1.7”. It’s not all for show either; the GT C’s 305-series rear tires are properly wide and provide the traction this car needs.
Immediately upon pushing the console-mounted engine start button, the GT C Roadster fires to life with a ferocious roar. The heart of this machine is a twin-turbocharged 4.0L V8, definitely down on displacement from the naturally aspirated 6.2L from past AMG products. It really doesn’t matter though, because the GT C’s motor isn’t “down” in any way. Output is 550 horsepower at 6,750RPM and 502 lb-ft. of torque at a low 1,900RPM. Power is almost immediate, though there is slight turbo lag that shows its face right off the line.
This is all accomplished thanks to the GT C having physically larger turbochargers than the GT, which can deliver peak boost of 18.1psi. The GT R has 577 horsepower thanks to 19.6psi of boost. It isn’t just a straight-line car either; the GT C Roadster has an actual hydraulic power steering rack, which has plenty of actual feel and feedback communicated right into the driver’s hands.
A standard rear-wheel steering system means the back end of the car counter-steers to improve low speed agility as well as reduce steering effort. At highway speeds or higher, this system forces the front and rear wheels to turn in the same direction, which allows the car to corner with impressive amounts of grip. Stability control can be defeated, but with the amount of power under the hood of the GT C, we recommend that doing so or engaging launch control only be done in a track setting.
An AMG SpeedShift seven-speed dual-clutch transmission sends power to the rear wheels, and boy does this car ever accelerate. Mercedes-AMG claims a 0-100km/h run of 3.7 seconds, and a top speed of 316 km/h. The confidence the GT C Roadster exhibits is just immense, with a menacing exhaust note that intimidates right at idle, with a tenacious rumble. The neck-snapping upshifts are almost instantaneous, and are met with a burble from the exhaust. Downshifts when the GT C is set to Sport, Sport Plus, or Race mode cause an even louder backfire from the pipes.
Not geared for efficiency in the slightest, Natural Resources Canada rates the GT C Roadster at 15.5L/100km city, 11.0L/100km highway, and a combined 13.0L/100km. The 75L fuel tank runs out unsurprisingly quickly when the car is driven spiritedly, and we observed 15.8L/100km over the course of our 350km test. Full disclosure; our tested consisted of mostly city driving. The GT C can accept 91-octane premium fuel at minimum, but performs optimally on 93 or 94-octane.
Inside, the GT C Roadster is not your typical Mercedes-Benz, though the luxury is hardly forgotten. Top-notch materials finish the cabin, and the grand touring nature of the car really comes through here. The two front seats are separated by an extra wide center console that has an “Affalterbach AMG” logo monogrammed onto the lid, reminding you just how special this car is. Two neatly arranged rows of knobs and buttons perform necessary functions like select the drive mode, or turn the performance exhaust on and off.
Many convertible buyers prefer retractable hardtops, and while they’re nifty, I personally am averse to the complicated movements that are expensive to repair. The GT C Roadster’s soft-top is made of three layers to withstand inclement weather, and can open or close in 11 seconds. Unlike other roadsters that must be completely stopped to open or close, this one can operate up to 50 km/h. Even when the top is open, the small trunk can still accommodate enough gear for a weekend escape.
The window sticker on the AMG GT C Roadster starts at $178,000, a $15,000 premium over the Coupé. This car was equipped with the AMG Track Package ($3,300) adding an AMG performance steering wheel, high-performance tires, active engine mounts, and an AMG Dynamic Plus package. Those wanting to track their GT C will want to opt for the $13,950 carbon ceramic brakes, but other than that, the car comes wonderfully equipped.
Despite its AMG nameplate and monstrous nature, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster isn’t a purebred sports car. This is a grand tourer through and through, but one that can satisfy the thrill-seeking track day enthusiast without issue. Those wanting more track focus will want to opt for the GT R, but for the vast majority, this is the one to have. It combines almost all of the engineering the GT family has to offer, and adds the extra bit of style and capability that makes all of the difference.