2020 Mercedes-AMG GT first drive review: A refresh that polishes an already good car

Five years have passed since Mercedes-AMG introduced its GT Coupe, the second road car fully developed by the Affalterbach, Germany-based company. While we were far from tired of the car's effortless blend of luxury and performance, it was unsurprisingly time for an update to keep the AMG GT fresh. And after driving the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT through Germany, I'm happy to report the changes haven't eroded any of the car's many virtues.

Family resemblance

Though you may need to see a picture of the old one next to it to tell, the 2020 AMG GT does have a new look. Most of the changes are intended to link it visually to the GT 4-Door, with restyled LED headlights, tinted taillights, a new rear bumper design, new side skirts, quad exhausts and new wheel designs. The changes apply equally to the GT Coupe and the Roadster.

Likewise, most of the tweaks inside the cabin match what's offered in the 4-Door. For instance, a 12.3-inch full-digital instrument cluster replaces the former twin analog dials and trip computer. It displays a wealth of information, from navigation maps to details like boost pressure and engine-oil temperature, and has three distinct gauge layouts depending on your preferences.

There is also a 10.2-inch Comand infotainment display in place of the outgoing models' 8.4-inch screen. That system is now operated by a single, larger touchpad on the center console, rather than the past rotary knob and touchpad. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now offered, too.

Mild tweaks bring the GT Coupe's look more inline with that of the GT 4-Door.

Mercedes-Benz

Also notable is the introduction of several new buttons with integrated screens, also borrowed from the GT 4-Door. On the redesigned steering wheel you'll find buttons for the sport exhaust, drive modes and AMG Dynamics system; the displayed image changes with each mode. On the center console, the old car's big, round buttons (which lit up red when activated) have also been swapped out for screens that show graphics to indicate if, say, the rear spoiler is deployed or the gearbox is in manual mode.

Familiar powertrain

There are few mechanical changes beneath the surface, with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 sending power to the limited-slip rear differential by way of a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle. In the standard AMG GT Coupe and Roadster, that hand-built heart pumps out 469 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. That's good for a claimed 3.9-second run to 60 miles per hour in the coupe, with a top speed of 189 mph. Moving up to the GT C boosts power to 550 hp and 502 lb-ft, while also adding an electronically controlled diff, rear-wheel steering, adaptive dampers, a wider track and dynamic engine and transmission mounts. Straight-line figures improve to 3.6 seconds and 196 mph.

There is also a spicy GT R, with 577 hp and numerous track-focused upgrades (and now even offered as a Roadster), as well as its bonkers GT R Pro variant. And European customers can still buy a GT S, which splits the difference at 515 horsepower, though it is no longer offered in the US.

The twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 can be had in several different states of tune.

Mercedes-Benz

A sublime drive

With crisp spring air, beautiful blue skies and relatively little traffic, driving the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C on winding German roads is a joy. That it feels unchanged from the pre-refresh version is not a slight in the least. Consider the easily accessed and more-than-adequate power from the V8, which dispatches slow-moving trucks in a blink and scorches along unlimited autobahn stretches without batting an eyelid. Even without using the paddle shifters, the transmission plays along nicely, dishing up downshifts to help make the GT C feel like an absolute rocket.

The difference between the car's drive modes is easily noticeable on the road, with Comfort keeping the exhaust quieter and riding the most comfortably over pockmarked village streets. Sport and Sport+ up the ante considerably and deliver sharper still throttle response; Race is too intense for road driving.

With the car's way-back seating position and rear-wheel steering, it feels as if the GT C pivots around me as I turn into a bend, making every curve and roundabout just that little bit more exciting. The electric power steering does feel a smidge nervous just off-center, yet as you dial in more angle it is supercar-quick and millimeter precise -- all the better to scythe up and down spaghetti-like stretches of road strewn over verdant hillsides. Right-now brakes with a firm pedal make slowing for 50 kilometer-per-hour (31 mph) village speed limits stress-free.

On city streets or in the countryside, the AMG GT rides well and handles crisply.

Mercedes-Benz

For all its sportiness and zest, however, the Mercedes-AMG GT has always aced the grand-touring side of things, too, and the updated GT C is no different. The powertrain happily trundles through city traffic without much fuss or clunking from the dual-clutch transaxle, and the engine politely shuts off at stop lights to save fuel. Full-speed adaptive cruise control makes slogging through a long section of highway construction much easier. And perhaps the best upgrade of all for 2020 is a new front parking camera to help avoid scraping that long, low, wide nose.

An excellent improvement

There are still plenty of ways in which the AMG GT frustrates. The super-long nose means it's maddeningly difficult to see out of junctions into traffic, the electric transmission shifter is still too far back on the console, the low roof requires you to crane your neck to see traffic lights and coupe models inexplicably hide the buttons for the heated seats, parking sensor, hazards and front camera high up on the windshield header. But it's hard to get hung up on all those things when I'm enjoying the way the car drives.

Priced to compete with the likes of the Porsche 911, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT range will be a tempting proposition once it reaches US dealers this summer. The coupe costs $116,895 with destination in base form and $151,895 for the GT C, while Roadster prices are set at $128,895 and $163,395.

Whichever variant you choose, the AMG GT rewards with sweet driving dynamics and competent, compliant long-distance manners. With a little more technology inside the cabin, too, it's an even nicer place to spend time. Sign me up for a GT C coupe for everything from country-road attacks to autobahn hauls.


Editors' note:Travel costs related to this feature were covered by the manufacturer. This is common in the auto industry, as it's far more economical to ship journalists to cars than to ship cars to journalists. While Roadshow accepts multi-day vehicle loans from manufacturers in order to provide scored editorial reviews, all scored vehicle reviews are completed on our turf and on our terms.

The judgments and opinions of Roadshow's editorial team are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.

Discuss 2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT