The replacement for the gullwinged SLS AMG is here and it's called the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT.
The new sports coupe is as wide and low-slung as ever, but features a new look that is simpler and more in-line with the automaker's latest models. Where the SLS Coupe used gullwing doors, the GT has a pair of conventional doors. The rest of the vehicle, however, is no less exotic than its predecessor.
Under the skin is an aluminum space frame that weighs just 509 pounds (before the engine, body, interior, and the rest of the car are added to reach the final unstated curb weight). The aerodynamics have been redesigned to enhance performance and cooling. And the new turbocharged engine is, according to Mercedes, the first of its kind.
Under that wide bonnet you'll find a newly developed 4.0-liter V-8 biturbo engine, internally dubbed the M178. Rather than hanging the turbos off of the side of the engine, AMG has tucked them into the middle of the V-shaped cylinder bank. This "hot inside V" configuration, as Mercedes calls it, should optimize turbocharger responsiveness, aid in reduce exhaust gas emissions by boosting thermal efficiency, and allows the engine package to be more compact.
That compact construction combined with dry sump lubrication -- like what you'll see on purpose built racing cars -- also allows the engine to be mounted lower in the chassis and farther back behind the front wheels, giving the GT its "front midengine" configuration. By going dry-sump, the engine is also able to better lubricate itself during high-G cornering. Mercedes-AMG claims that the new GT is the first sports car to use this combination of turbocharger placement and dry-sump lubrication.
As it tradition with AMG's engines, each of these M178s is hand-assembled by a single master engine builder who then signs the engine plate.
Mercedes-AMG's new coupe will be available in GT and GT S trim levels, differentiated by stated output and a few optional performance technologies. The base-level GT outputs 462 horsepower 443 pound-feet of torque, slinging its lightweight chassis from zero to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds and onward to a top speed of 189 mph. The step-up GT S is good for a stated 510 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Zero-to-60-mph times drop to 3.8 seconds, while the top speed climbs to 193 mph.
Like its predecessor, the SLS AMG, the rear-wheel driven GT uses a rear-transaxle configuration for its gearbox. The engine ahead of the driver is connected to the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that sits behind the passenger cell by a prop shaft. This spreads the power train's weight across the wheelbase and contributes to the coupe's rear-biased 47/53 front-to-rear weight distribution.
A lightweight chassis, a low center of gravity, and a wide, well-balanced footprint should add up to a nimble sports car. The GT uses a double wishbone suspension at all four corners to help keep the standard 19-inch wheel-and-tire combos glued to the tarmac. The GT S steps its game up with a standard electronically controlled damping that allows the driver to adjust the ride's characteristics between Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus modes at the touch of a button and a standard rear-axle locking differential.
The performance can then be further upgraded with the addition of optional dynamic engine and transmission mounts that can be soft when cruising and stiff when optimal responsiveness is more important than comfort. There are also optional ceramic brakes, forged wheels, and specially developed tires available to boost the performance (and the price tag) of the new GT S.
In the aviation-themed cabin, drivers will interact with the power train's various modes and settings via the AMG Drive Unit controls on the center console. Here you'll find eight buttons and knobs (arranged to echo the cylinders of a V-8) that tweak everything from the active exhaust to the adaptive suspension to the trio of drive modes.
Not much detail has been given about the Comand infotainment at the top of the dashboard, but we can tell from the photos that it will be accessible via a control knob in the middle of the center console, just ahead of the shift lever for the semiautomatic transmission. The Comand system appears to be the same level of tech that we saw in the 2015 S550 with a similar controller.
Safety tech on this super sports coupe hasn't been overlooked. The GT will come standard with Mercedes-Benz' collision prevention assist with Pre-Safe, adaptive braking, Attention Assist, parking proximity sensors, and a rearview camera. Optional extras include a Lane Tracking package that includes lane-keeping assist and blind-spot assist.
The US will launch first with the 2016 AMG GT S in the spring of 2015. The AMG GT will launch in the following year, priced in Europe at €124,900. No pricing is available in other territories, but be sure to check out our gallery for even more pictures and details.