Only two years ago, the Mercedes-Benz portfolio was crammed with a bunch of high-end choices. They included luxurious coupe and convertible editions of the S-Class, two-door E-Class spin-offs, the old SL in all its Floridian glory, the ballsy AMG GT in coupe and roadster guise, plus a couple of hideously expensive Maybachs.
But today the brand’s upper echelon is unusually short of must-have products. The S-Class has reverted to being just a saloon, the two AMG GT crackerjacks are no more – although the 4 Door survives – while the new SL is a highly competent but somewhat soulless effort, and the two-door E- and C-Class derivatives are about to be replaced by the compromise CLE. And the only sports car set to join the line-up in 2023 is a new AMG GT derived from the SL.
The previous GT had its flaws – too wide, too heavy, too cramped, too garish and not sufficiently practical – but it was a proper sports car. The awesome GT R version, that blend of aluminium, carbonfibre and raw power, is already acquiring legendary status.
The new 2023 Mercedes-AMG GT: what to expect
The follow-up effort has a less radical philosophy: AWD instead of transaxle, four-cylinder base engine instead of V8, active anti-roll bars and AMG Ride Control suspension instead of a coilover steel set-up with drift-o-meter. More accessible, perhaps. As involving? We’ll see. Just as the new SL is not as sharp-edged and uncompromising as the GT roadster, the coupe won’t feel like a toned-down GT R.
The core engine is a 2.0-litre four boosted by electrically assisted turbochargers and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which in the SL43 makes 375bhp. Straight-sixes will also fit, but the plug-in hybrid V8 from the GT 4 Door does not. Zero-emissions versions are at least five years off.
Despite bespoke grille graphics, a slightly wider track and lowered suspension, GT and SL are virtually identical from the nose to the A-posts. The lightweight roof is of course all-new, and so are the side view and the curvy rear end, which looks even more 911-like than the SL.
Two seats only
Unlike the rear-engined Porsche, which holds tight to the token 2+2 layout, the AMG GT is strictly a two-seater. The previously used narrow bootlid has been replaced by a deep and wide tailgate which pops up to access a truly cavernous luggage compartment.
The cabin is pure SL, complete with the large central screen and the densely populated five-spoke steering-wheel. For the GT the cabin will get more generously adjustable seats, more elaborate trim configurations… and of course a made-to-measure luggage set.