More than just about any other automaker, Mercedes-Benz is completely typecast. BMW has its M-Division cars to hammer home the “Ultimate Driving Machine” theme, and Audi has its shockingly blue RS cars and precise but deadly R8 supercar to show that it knows how to get down, but to most people, Mercedes is staid, proper, and luxurious above all else — even if it is planning on AMG-ing all its cars.
Of course, the stereotype isn’t true; the company has a history of building bonkers performance cars going back decades, from the barely legal CLK GTR of the ’90s, to the tire-shredding 510-horsepower C63 Black Series coupe, and the giant middle finger that is the 536-horsepower G63 AMG 6×6 off-roader. But at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed it unveiled its latest performance car, and it could shatter its buttoned-up reputation once and for all.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: Cars with the letter R stuck on the end are both insanely fast, and fun. Examples include the Nissan GT-R, Shelby GT350R, Corvette C7.R, and Porsche 911R. Now, we can add a new one to the list: the Mercedes-AMG GT R. Sure, the plain old Mercedes-AMG GT S is already a bona-fide Porsche 911 Turbo fighter. With its hand-built, snarling 500-plus horsepower twin-turbo V8 and race-tuned suspension, it’s one of the best performance cars that $130,000 can buy. But last year, Mercedes released its competition GT3-class version of the car, showing the world another side of Mercedes-AMG performance. Its unique aerodynamics and front fascia were meant to evoke the 300SL racers of the early ’50s. Instead, it looked like a pissed off grouper fish with an appetite for Porsches. The world wanted a street legal version bad, and Mercedes, thankfully, has delivered.
The GT R doesn’t have the naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 found in the GT3 track car, but it does have that evil-looking front end. The mad geniuses at AMG have also managed to coax 74 more ponies out of the 4.0-liter V8, bringing the total up to 577 horsepower. With 510 pound-feet of torque and power routed through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox to the rear wheels, zero to 60 now comes in 3.5 seconds, and top speed is an electronically limited 198 miles per hour.
But this isn’t just another go-fast version of an already hot car. The car is street legal, but is entirely tuned for the track, with a reworked lighter weight suspension, wider track, a rear-wheel steering system, active aerodynamics, a host of carbon fiber parts, and carbon-ceramic brakes. Inside, Mercedes hasn’t sacrificed many creature comforts in the name of speed, but it has added nine stability control modes, allowing drivers to keep the car in a straight line regardless of road or weather conditions. And to make sure you don’t lose it in a parking lot, the car is offered in “AMG Green Hell Magno,” named after that other infamous Green Hell, the Nürburgring.
So Mercedes has taken its already formidable performance car, made it faster than hell, given it looks that make you instinctually pull over when you see it in your rearview mirror, and dipped it in a color that looks like it was stolen out of Lamborghini’s paint shop. When it hits showrooms early next year, it’s likely to come with a $200K price tag, but if you ask us, that’s a small price to pay for one of the most bonkers Mercedes ever built. Seems like Mercedes is finally figuring out how to break character. We like it.