2018’s Must-drive models BMW’s M8 Gran Coupe Concept and Mercedes-AMG’s GT 4-Door Coupe lead our coverage of all the major new releases from this year’s Geneva motor show. Text and photography by Antony Ingram.
2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe - New four-door GTs seek to bridge the gap between AMG’s sports cars and its sledgehammer saloons...
1 ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
Perhaps the most notable engine option is Mercedes’ new 3-litre in-line six, badged GT53. It develops 429bhp and 383lb ft, but as with the new CLS53 it also utilises hybrid technology, an electric motor capable of adding up to 21bhp and 184lb f t when required. The GT53’s 0-62mph dash takes 4.5sec; top speed is 177mph.
From there, the range steps up to the GT63, which uses a 577bhp variant of the ‘hot vee’ 4-litre V8, with no hybrid assistance. This slashes the 0-62mph time to 3.4sec and lifts top speed to 193mph. The range tops out (for now) with the GT63 S, which has 630bhp and 664lb f t at its disposal, trimming a further 0.2sec from the 0-62mph sprint and adding 3mph flat-out. A V8 hybrid, like the 800bhp GT Concept, is due in around two years.
All GT 4-Doors send their power to all four wheels, though each takes a slightly different approach. The 53’s system isn’t permanent, but can fully vary torque split between front and rear axles, and drive is first sent through a nine-speed twin-clutch transmission. Both 63s use a permanent system with a variable split, while the GT63 S adds the drift mode found in the E63 S. Both V8s use a nine-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox.
Like the two - door GT and the SLS before it, the 4-Door Coupe has been developed entirely by AMG, but unlike the two - door GT, the new car doesn’t use a unique platform. AMG boss Tobia s Moers has confirmed that the 4-Door instead sits on a revised E63 S platform, as the two - door’s front-mid-engined, transaxle layout precluded its expansion to a four- door, four-seat model.
The 4-Door has had work to improve its torsional stiffness, however, and also gets the rear-wheel steering set-up from the two - door GT, which Moers says gives the car a completely different feel to more mainstream AMGs. We’re told it’ll also be a better cruiser than other AMGs and that an even more hardcore model hasn’t been ruled out.
3 INTERIOR & OPTIONS
So the GT 4-Door isn’t merely a stretched version of the low-slung GT coupe, and one look at the cabin confirms this – the vibe is much closer to that of the E-class’s interior than it is to the two - door GT’s.
It’s not identical to the E-class’s cabin, of course, with the big gest difference sitting prominently between the driver and front passenger: a large centre console, with a gear selector located in the same slightly awkward place as it is in the coupe.
The driver-centric layout melds surprisingly well with the wide TFT display in front of the driver, and the jet-style air vents are classier than those of the coupe. And there are those rear seats, of course, accessed through frameless doors.
If we’ve learned any thing about four- door coupes since their widespread adoption by the industry, it’s that opinion is split on their styling. For what it’s worth, the GT 4-Door is a reasonable effort in translating the GT coupe’s styling onto a longer form.
It’s far from perfect, though, being perhaps too bulbous around the rump and losing some of the appealing long-nose, short-tail proportions that give the coupe such a dramatic presence on the road. From the side it’s better, but there are shades of both Panamera and Audi A7 to the car’s flanks and window-line.
It’s better in the metal, but lacks real distinction compared with the CLS, at least under the glow of motor show lights.
As a styling exercise, the GT 4-Door Coupe leaves us a little cold, lacking the dramatic presence of the earlier concept and the low and sleek GT coupe. But while it may look like little more than a stylised CLS, AMG’s other characteristic s are present and correct.
A chat with Moers suggests that a shooting brake version (sorry, Panamera Sport Turismo fans) ha s been ruled out and that it’s a little too early for a full-electric model, but a brutal hybridised V8 version looks likely. In the meantime it sounds like the three launch versions could make an interesting bridge between the brand’s dedicated sports cars and the more practical sledgehammer saloons and estates we’re used to seeing from AMG.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPECIFICATIONS 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63S
Engine V8, 3982cc, twin-turbo
Max Power 630bhp @ 5500-6500rpm / DIN
Max Torque 664lb f t @ 2500-4500rpm / DIN
Top speed 0-62mph 3.2sec (claimed)
Basic price £115,000 (est)
On sale September 2018
"Rear-wheel steering from the GT coupe should give the car a completely different feel to more mainstream AMGs"
BMW M8 Gran Coupe Concept Show car previews next four-door BMW flagship. Expect 600bhp and a proper ‘M’ spirit
BMW is remaining tight-lipped about what lies beneath the skin of the M8 Gran Coupe, but we’re not expecting any surprises. Powering the production version should be the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 from the new M5, with just shy of 600bhp and a similar figure in lb ft for peak torque. It should also use the M5’s four-wheel- drive system, complete with the ability to be rear- drive only if you select the appropriate driving mode.
Such credentials will put the M8 right in the thick of the high-performance-limousine action, with rivals including Porsche’s Panamera Turbo, Mercedes-AMG’s GT63 S, and Audi’s next RS7, which is said to offer both conventional and electrically boosted power trains.
2 PAINT & METAL
The largely green but also blue-grey flip paint is called Salève Vert – after a mountain near Geneva. It’s supposed to signify the Jekyll and Hyde aspect of the car: the angry green the overarching colour; grey being the under tone of luxury, with the sudden flash of blue signifying BMW M.
BMW is also confident that it can now introduce the kind of finger-slicingly sharp creases in aluminium that have so far proved impossible with the company’s design complex language and its avoidance of parallel lines. As Domagoj Dukec, vice president of design for BMW i and M, explains: ‘We want expression first, precision second. We believe we can now do both – crisp lines and sculptured surfaces.’
The M8 Gran Coupe is one of the more successful meldings of a sportier profile with four- door practicality. At over five metres long it’s a big car, and it’s also slightly taller than the 8-series Coupe that BMW ha s recently shown in camouflaged form. However, the extra height has been well disguised by the flowing fastback roofline.
At the rear, the use of a plastic bootlid enables a pronounced, integrated ducktail spoiler, while the rear wheelarches are wider than on the regular 8-series Coupe, giving the car a ‘Coke bottle’ appearance down the flanks. There’s an extra crease line along the sides, too, which Dukec says gives a sense of power and prestige compared with the softer, more ‘sex y’ curves of the coupe.
4 M BITS
There will be non-M versions of the 8-series Gran Coupe too, so which elements are specific to the M-car? Unsurprisingly, the three-intake front bumper is an M par t, a s are the wider front wheelarches, the carbon roof panel and the rear diffuser. But it’s the M’s yellow day time running lights that really stand out, taking inspiration from the M8 GTE endurance racer. Dukec says BMW is trying to make them legal for production.
The wheels may look like previous M alloys, but they feature something BMW believes is an industry first. The lighter surfaces are achieved by milling , not painting , and the angled faces give the wheels a diamond effect on the move, rather than the usual rotating- disc look.
As BMW’s flagship, the M8 Gran Coupe will play an important role and face some formidable foes. The par ting words of Dukecsug gest it should be up to the task: ‘We’ve had a lot of downsizing at BMW, like the Active Tourer and BMW i. We needed to do it, to make us credible for the future. But there’s the other extreme, and we need to strengthen our business around luxury and performance. BMW is a “Latin” German car maker – about emotions. But we lost this in recent years because we had other business to do. But there are still enough people who love it [performance cars], and they said what’s going on with BMW? I think this car is a good offer [for them].’
BMW with its sporting mojo back? Let’s hope so.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPECIFICATIONS BMW M8 Gran Coupe (ESTIMATED)
Engine V8, 4395cc, twin-turbo
Max Power 592bhp @ 5600-6700rpm / DIN
Max Torque 553lb ft @ 1800-5600rpm / DIN
Top speed 155mph (limited; 190mph with Driver’s Package)
Basic price £110,000+
On sale 2019