Hey, keep it rolling when the dice keep giving — 2015 was a record year of sales for Mercedes-Benz with 1.9 million vehicles produced, and to ensure the charts remain pointed up in Stuttgart, the German giant decided on 12 new models to add to its growing portfolio throughout this year and 2017.
Some of these newcomers like the GLC and S-Class Cabriolet we’ve already seen, and others are yet to come — next week at the biennial Paris motor show we’ll see new SUVs and electric vehicles premiered, plus there’s an ‘all-terrain’ E-Class on the plans as well as the upcoming Mercedes-AMG GT R, GT C Coupé, and of course this, the GT Roadster, aka the worst-kept secret in the sportscar world.
We’ve known Mercedes and AMG would chop the top off their GT chassis ever since the SLS Gullwing’s successor was announced in 2014. After a whole bunch of speculation the official word on the GT Roadster is out and the car is heading to Paris to woo crowds otherwise not interested in electric mobility.
And there are at least 476 reasons to be interested in the GT Roadster, packing Affalterbach’s finest hand-assembled 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine beneath that front acreage they call a bonnet. In base spec it’ll serve up 476bhp to the 295/35 19in rear tyres, but if you pay extra for the Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster you get the same engine tuned to 557bhp good for 0-100kph in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 316kph. In fact, Affalterbach had to electronically limit this thing to 316.
And just like with the Coupé models, the more powerful Roadster features five driving modes versus the base car’s four, which means you get a knob to twist to ‘Race’ in the GT C that switches everything off and firms things up. As if the GT chassis wasn’t firm enough already — wheels gave the Coupé one of our 2016 Car of the Year awards even though we noted it was far from a Grand Tourer as its name suggests, and rather an all-out supercar out to shake your fillings.
So mechanically the tin-tops and soft-tops are nearly identical (nearly being the operative word, because there is actually a bit of GT R in the new GT C, which we’ll get to), and that’s nothing to complain about. These cars weigh about 1.6, 1.7 tonnes, so right on the money in the segment, and actually even a bit lighter than the norm. For context, the Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible weighs 1,720kg and the BMW M6 Convertible is over two tonnes.
The retracting roof is the reason you buy this Roadster, or any roadster, and the GT’s lightweight soft top drops in just 11 seconds at speeds of up to 50kph, making it one of the fastest roofs on the market. In our experience Porsche roofs come a close second needing 12 seconds to complete the operation. With the GT Roadster, you can choose from three colours for your fabric roof, including black, red and beige, to mix and match the car to its 11 exterior and 10 interior colour choices. Naturally, AMG gives you further customisation cost options for your GT Roadster such as the performance exhaust, sports seats, Airscarf neck heating system and a high-end Burmester surround sound system.
For sideways smiles you’ll be happy to know both cars come with limited-slip differentials, the entry model with a mechanical unit and the GT C with a trick electronically controlled diff. One of the other highlights of the range-topping AMG GT C Roadster is its rear end that debuts the GT R’s rear-axle steering made popular by Porsche recently, to improve handling and high-speed stability. This is what makes the Roadster further unique to the Coupé, which doesn’t offer the hardcore GT R’s rear-axle.
The new Mercedes-AMG Roadster range will go on sale next year with prices in our region starting from about Dh600,000.