2016 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S first drive review Page 2

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On the road

To truly compete with—let alone beat—the Porsche 911, the AMG GT S must not only excel at the track, it must shine in day-to-day use, as well. While the GT S starts on the back foot here due to its complete lack of a back seat (as opposed to the 911’s vestigial nubs), there’s much to be said for the latest AMG product even in normal highway use.

Switch on the adaptive cruise control, and the GT S handles stop-and-go (or just congested freeway) traffic with the ease of a C Class. Ride quality is certainly more in the sports car vein, but with the drive selector in Comfort mode, it’s pleasant enough even over rough pavement. Wind and road noise are minimal, too, allowing you to hear the Burmester surround sound system all the better.

The seats, however, leave a bit to be desired—at least in standard form. Firm bolsters, an excessively sway-backed lumbar support, and limited range of adjustability (the rear bulkhead limits taller drivers’ recline angle) leaves the seating somewhat awkward, at least for your “sitting dwarf” (a technical German design term meaning long-legged and short-torsoed) author. The story in the passenger seat is worse; the floor board is a few inches closer, forcing my shins into the dashboard if I want a reasonable degree of recline; freeing my legs requires sitting bolt upright with the seat against the bulkhead.

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Optional sport seats remedy many of these problems, though the compact nature of the cabin remains an issue for the longer-legged. For the “sitting giants” like Dieter Zetsche, who personally signs off on each car Daimler’s brands build only after ensuring he can sit comfortably in any position, the seating should offer little or no problem; for those under six feet, proportions won’t matter at all.

This one gripe aside, the AMG GT S proved, over a full day of testing, to be an immensely enjoyable, rewarding car to drive, and one that’s fun to drive not just at race pace, but at a spirited yet sane pace through the winding roads of northern California. Again, the steering reflects more feedback and feel than any modern Mercedes-Benz, and more than nearly any other electric-powered assist system we’ve driven from other brands, too.

2016 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S

2016 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S

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The million dollar question

So, 911 or AMG GT S? It’s too soon to tell. We’ve spent days and weeks in nearly every variant of the 911 currently available. We’ve had only a full day in the GT S.

For a Carrera S competitor, if your focus is on performance above daily utility, and you’d like to have something that doesn’t look like every other car at the office, country club, or Cars & Coffee meet, the AMG GT is a great option.

If you’re eying a 911 Turbo S, on the other hand, the AMG GT, even in GT S trim, may come up a bit short.

So far, however, AMG has come far closer to offering a true 911 competitor than many thought possible—and, in our early estimation, may even have one-upped the benchmark car on a dollar-for-dollar basis, especially when pure driving enjoyment is at the top of the list.

2016 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S

2016 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S

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And yes, there will be a Black Series. We can’t wait to lay hands on that.

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