2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster first drive review: a special sports car, topless or not

I'd like to start this review by prattling on about how this 550-horsepower super sports car can slay the toughest track set before it. I'd love to wax poetic about its relentless grip, its composure at speed, its hunkered down feel in sharp bends, and the feeling of joy it imparts to the driver as it helps you turn in quick lap times time and time again.

Even though the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster is almost certainly capable of all of that, I can't start off that way.

You see, when an automaker cuts the top off from a sports car or even a supercar, it immediately classifies it as a "lifestyle" car instead of a track beast, even though all that track goodness is still baked right in.

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster

The AMG GT C Roadster and GT Roadster are the first two droptop versions of the AMG GT. The GT C is positioned between the GT S and the all-out GT R in the growing AMG GT lineup, while the GT model represents the new entry point of the range. Together, these are the only two roadster offerings, so there is no GT S or GT R Roadster at the present time.

Mercedes invited Motor Authority to Phoenix to drive the AMG GT C Roadster, where, instead of a track, we could enjoy it by dodging the cops, finding the occasional twisty mountain road, and viewing it against the beautiful backdrop of the American Southwest. 

Rock solid

The AMG GT C works well as a roadster, and its structure is a major reason. Like the coupe, the car features an aluminum spaceframe with a central tunnel that houses a torque tube and a carbon fiber driveshaft that leads to a rear-mounted trans-axle.

AMG engineers employed a few measures to make up for the loss of structural rigidity provided by the top. They added a crossmember longitudinally within that central tunnel, reinforced the side sills with additional chambers and thicker metal, and anchored the dash crossmember in three additional locations.

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The result is a car with little to no body quake or dashboard shake, even over broken pavement. This car is as sturdy as a super sports car should be, and it has the structure to handle track duty, even if that isn’t how Mercedes-AMG chose to present it to journalists at the drive event.

The chops for the track
It’s not just the structure that can handle the rigors of the track. The AMG GT C has plenty of equipment meant for track performance. A few of those features are found at the tail end of the car. To fit wider tires and bigger wheels under it, the rear fenders are 2.2 inches wider and the rear track grows a commensurate amount. That allows the GT C to handle 305/30R20 meats mounted on 12-inch wide wheels under its low-slung rear end. The tires are 10 mm wider than the GT’s, and so are the 265/35R19 fronts. On both cars, the tires are Continental SportContact6s, which are a viable performance tire, but they aren’t as track-focused as some of the better tires from Michelin or Pirelli.

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