A debate has been brewing at wheels HQ. Features writer Imran Malik, who has rediscovered the Porschephile in him after driving the new 911 Turbo and the 718 Boxster, rather sanctimoniously says that the GT S is a show-off’s car. It’s loud, large and is merely a tool to attract attention. A 911 Turbo, by contrast, is more function than form, he contends. Even if for a second we ignore the fact that this is coming from a guy who owns two Firebirds — both of which are not really very good to drive and yet shout about their arrival everywhere — I can’t stress enough that he is wrong.
Cars like the GT aren’t supposed to fly under the radar, and to be brutally frank, the 911 Turbo isn’t exactly understated any more either. It’s got two rear spoilers and, finished in the press demonstrator’s Lava Orange, it looks pretty garish.
Granted, being the Edition 1 model, our long-termer comes with more tinsel than the standard car, which can be had with the retractable spoiler that seamlessly melts into the bodywork. However, there are several optional goodies apart from the aerodynamic kit that do add to the appeal. The superb sports seats, active engine mounts, a special interior, roof finished in naked carbon fibre, along with, crucially, as the sales person at the dealership pointed out, the Edition 1 badge on the steering wheel!
The thing is, even though Mercedes pitches the GT as a 911 rival, it is a completely different proposition. Having driven the GT for over a month now, I can admit that it’s not as easy to live with as the Porsche, but it does have some serious performance chops.
That twin-turbo V8 alone will make you forgive many of its follies. It has the mid-range grunt of a blown engine and yet emulates the responsiveness of an atmo unit convincingly. And unlike its sometimes skittish SLS predecessor, the grip from the rear tyres is unwavering. It’s economical, too, for the kind of car it is. I’ve seen a steady average of about 14 litres per 100km. A hybrid Lexus RX managed about 10 during a wheels test recently. More next week.
Week 3 It’s not the most spacious car in its class; the transmission tunnel although cool-looking is exceedingly massive. Boot space is much better, though, and dynamically it’s much more resolved than the SLS.
Highs Improves on the SLS’s shortcomings.
Lows Infotainment screen is unreadable under the glare of the sun.
Week 4 The GT’s choppy ride in Sport+ mode makes it a pain in the rear, both figuratively and literally. However, primary ride quality is much better. More importantly, it affords a sense of occasion every time you take it for a drive.
Highs Secondary ride quality isn’t the best.
Lows Dramatic compared to its rivals.