2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster Review

Luxury touring machine to track-ready weapon

Mercedes-Benz is one of the few automotive manufacturers that values the concept of the open-topped automobile, and with the launch of the AMG GT-C Roadster, it becomes immediately apparent that they seek to establish the benchmark for this segment.

A Mercedes-AMG Roadster Balanced for both Everyday Drives and Track Days

The Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster represents the third of four trim models currently offered in the company’s AMG GT range.

As such it includes the best bits from its two lesser stable mates, the GT and the GT S, as well as a variety of more enthusiast oriented equipment that has trickled down from the potent top-tier GT R The car is available in both coupe and roadster form, but by choosing the latter, the driver and passenger will experience an aural experience that is second to none.

Also check out: Mercedes-AMG Celebrates 50 Years with the New GT C Edition 50

What makes the GT C so special is the fact that the car is able to behave like a proper civilian, with a smooth ride, impeccable handling, and a muted growl- all attributes befitting of a luxurious touring machine, but at the other end of the spectrum, the GT C can be transformed into a dynamic and raucous track-ready weapon worthy of any enthusiast driver’s dream.

2018 mercedes-amg gt c review rear
Acceleration is blistering, especially when operating the car in Sport + or Race mode, and the driver has the ability to select his/her own shift points using the steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters inside the GT C cockpit. Pic: Russ Purcell

2018 GT C Roadster Driving Impressions

Coupe Power: A 550-hp V8

Under the seemingly endless hood you will find a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 engine that produces a prodigious 550-horsepower and a 502 foot-pounds of torque.  

Shifting duties are handled by a 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle that has been designed to accommodate whiplash starts (0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds) as well as optimal cruising efficiency.

For some serious AMG performance you should also check out AMG to the Seas: The 3100-hp 2017 50’ Marauder GT R Unveiled in Miami

Acceleration is blistering, especially when operating the car in Sport + or Race mode, and the driver has the ability to select his/her own shift points using the steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters. Under aggressive braking the associated shift program triggers lightning quick downshifts that result in the throaty growl that is requisite in an AMG product..

The company’s other two-seat offering in this class is the Mercedes-Benz SL which has always offered buyers a refined ride and competent road manners, but the curvaceous vixen that is the GT C delivers a true thrill ride of a driving experience.

2018 mercedes-amg gt c review engine
Under the seemingly endless hood you will find a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 engine that produces a prodigious 550-horsepower and a 502 foot-pounds of torque. Pic: Russ Purcell

Twin-turbochargers

The twin-turbochargers spool quickly and quietly as you press down on the accelerator and with each shift the surge of power causes the nose to raise just enough to remind you that this is an ultra-high performance machine to be respected and revered.  

Unfortunately, in many performance oriented automobiles ready access to power tends to fall away as you move up the gearbox, but not in this case, as I found near instantaneous delivery across the board. Passing manoeuvres and freeway onramps have never been so fun.  

GT C Drive Modes

The GT C is equipped with AMG Dynamic Select, a clever five-mode system (Individual, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Race) which allows the driver to optimize the performance of the throttle, chassis, gearbox and exhaust.  It also benefits from AMG Ride Control which offers three stages of suspension damping.

What makes the GT C so special is the fact that the car is able to behave like a proper civilian, with a smooth ride, impeccable handling, and a muted growl…(AND) can be transformed into a dynamic and raucous track-ready weapon worthy of any enthusiast driver’s dream.

Get behind the wheel of a GT C and you will find yourself hunting for twisty roads to showcase your precision driving skills as this car is a handling dynamo.  

With a super-quick hydraulic steering rack the GT C responds to driver inputs like a surgical tool and the car tracks like it is on rails as the potent partnership of a four-wheel double-wishbone suspension, dynamic chassis and sticky performance tires work their magic to keep the car in contact with the ground.  

2018 mercedes-amg gt c review footwork
At lower speeds (those less than 100 km/h) the rear wheels will turn in the opposite direction of the front units, up to a maximum angle of 1.5 degrees, while at higher speeds they will all work together. Pic: Russ Purcell

Footwork

The GT C is also equipped with active rear-axle steering which it sources from its racy big brother, the GT R (here’s a good GT R review by Richard Meaden at EVO).

At lower speeds (those less than 100 km/h) the rear wheels will turn in the opposite direction of the front units, up to a maximum angle of 1.5 degrees, while at higher speeds they will all work together.

This small advantage enhances handling and driving dynamics to the point that the driver will feel like the car will go exactly where it’s pointed, and with very little drama.

Storage is an issue as the roadster design means that some trunk space is sacrificed, so one set of golf clubs may come along or a couple of small suitcases.

Big ventilated disc brakes supported by the latest in anti-lock technologies handle stopping duty, but you can also order your car fitted with the AMG High-Performance Carbon Ceramic Braking System in the neighbourhood of $10,000+.

Track Pace Feature

Well aware that some GT C buyers may plan to exercise their driving skills at the local track, AMG offers the clever Track Pace feature.

This system is part of the optional COMAND Online infotainment system and utilizes the Apple iPhone to monitor key telemetry elements like acceleration, vehicle speed, braking, gear selection, and steering angle, as well as record a video of your lap. Users can then use the associated app to track their progress or brag to their peers.

Inside the AMG GT C Convertible

Cabrio

2018 mercedes-amg gt c review cabrio

Operation of the canvas roof takes a mere 11 seconds, and it can deploy at speeds up to 50 km/h.  This taut, well-insulated design is available in a trio of colours – black, tan or red – and when retracted, with the windows up, occupants could maintain a conversation at regular speaking volumes.

Cabin Impressions

The car’s interior is both striking and comfortable.  The car is fitted with seemingly infinitely adjustable heated AMG performance seats which incorporate the company’s innovative Airscarf neck heating system.

2018 mercedes-amg gt c review interior
The 2018 AMG GT C is fitted with seemingly infinitely adjustable heated AMG performance seats which incorporate the company’s innovative AirScarf neck heating system. Pic: Russ Purcell

Fit & Finish

Our test unit’s seats were wrapped in special nut brown Nappa leather which gave the car a real bespoke look, as did the diamond pattern seat inserts.  The optional carbon fibre trim package hinted at this car’s sporty intentions, but customers can opt for the standard Black Piano Lacquer or an optional silver fibreglass kit.   

Also read: World Premiere – New Mercedes-AMG Project ONE Hypercar Makes Frankfurt Debut

Ergonomics are good for all but the tallest individuals. I stand 6’2″ tall and found leg room to be in abundance and could probably sport a 10-gallon hat without brushing the canvas top if I was so inclined.

Instrumentation and Controls

You sit very low in a GT C and the centre console rises up to meld with the dash to give the car a real cockpit feel.  All the major controls, switchgear, and gauges fall readily to both hand and eye, but it is the various shapes and textures of some of the trim pieces and vents that give the car a high-tech appeal.

2018 mercedes-amg gt c review shifter
All the major controls, switchgear, and gauges fall readily to both hand and eye, but it is the various shapes and textures of some of the trim pieces and vents that give the car a high-tech appeal. Pic: Russ Purcell

At first this seems in conflict with the retro look of the exterior – complete with elements like sensuous curves and the 15-strut Panamericana grille design borrowed from historic Mercedes racing cars from the past – but somehow it works.    

The car’s instrument panel is easy to read and well protected from glare, as is the dash mounted COMAND infotainment screen which provides navigation as well as a wealth of access controls and information about the car’s various systems. The standard Burmester sound system will satiate the requirements of any, and all, audiophiles.

Storage

Storage is an issue as the roadster design means that some trunk space is sacrificed, so one set of golf clubs may come along or a couple of small suitcases.  

A fairly large glove box is backed up by a small centre console bin as well as two door sill map pockets. Some items can also find secure homes behind the two seats.

Takeaway

With the GT C Roadster Mercedes-AMG has a new weapon in its arsenal to tackle the likes of the venerable Porsche 911, as well as cars like the Jaguar F-Type SVR. The GT C’s styling and curb appeal will attract customers to the showroom, but it is the test drive that will surely seal the deal.

This car and its handful of GT stable mates demonstrate that Mercedes-AMG is looking to claim a much larger piece of the sport luxury segment, and we will all benefit from this in the future as they push automotive technology and innovation to the limits.

Read more of our Mercedes-Benz reviews here.

Learn more about the GT Roadster: GT Coupes USA | GT Coupes Canada

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Price

In the US, the GT C starts at US$157,000.

In Canada, starting MSRP is C$178,000.00. Our 2018 GT C as tested was C$187,690, with the following options (C$):

AMG Options

AMG Carbon Fibre trim ($2,500.00); AMG Track Package ($3300.00); Distronic Plus ($1200.00); Nut Brown / Black Exclusive Interior ($1800.00); Diamond White Bright Metal ($890.00); Freight and PDI ($1,785.00)

2018 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT C Roadster Technical Specifications:

  • Type: Rear-wheel-drive 2 passenger sports convertible
  • Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8                          
  • Transmission: AMG Speedshift DCT 7-Speed Sports automatic  
  • Horsepower: 550 @ 6,750 rpm  
  • Torque (lb.ft): 502 @ 1,900 rpm
  • Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs
  • Truck capacity: 350 Litres
  • Fuel economy (L/100km): City 15.6; Highway 11.7  

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Photos:

Russell Purcell is an award-winning automotive journalist and photographer based in Vancouver, B.C. His passion for automobiles was sparked at the tender age of six, when a family friend gave the wide-eyed first grader a ride to school in a track prepared Porsche 911 RSR. He continues to fan the flames by building an impressive library of automotive related books as well as a vast collection of interesting automobilia and motoring artefacts. Russell is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and is active on Twitter as RoadTestRuss.