/ AMG / #Mercedes
Testing the track-focused GT4 sibling of the AMG GT R
Words Kyle Fortune
‘It’s very demanding, very technical,’ says Thomas Jäger, who’s driving me round Paul Ricard in an AMG GT R and describing the best line. Demanding and technical are not words I was hoping to hear, especially as in a few minutes I’ll be strapped into the Mercedes-AMG GT4, the GT R’s racing twin. With as much nonchalance as I can muster, I get in the GT4. It’s not as easy as the GT R. I’m trussed-up in five-point harnesses in a deep, body-hugging bucket seat surrounded by a cage and nets, a twin-grip steering wheel in front, with a digital read-out behind it.
Jäger’s telling me what all the buttons and knobs do, saying to leave the #ABS
setting at 7, though to start with traction control at 3 and move it up to 6 or 7. In true Spinal Tap fashion the dial goes up to 11, but we’ll stick with Jäger’s advice. He should know, after all, having wound 30,000km onto it, along with Bernd Schneider and Jan Seyffarth honing it to be both reliable and competitive.
That’s a tricky yet necessary balance with a race car, especially a customer one. Add in the need for it to be, in Jäger’s words, ‘easy to drive and forgiving’ for those who don’t possess quite the skill-set that he has. People like me, then, or at least people like me with the €200,000 needed to buy this #Mercedes-AMG-GT4
and the desire to take it racing.
Indeed, Jäger anticipates demand will be high, GT4 appealing as a category because it’s affordable, relatively speaking. There’s plenty of competition, too, from Audis, Aston Martins, BMWs, Corvettes, Ginettas, Maseratis, McLarens, Porsches and more. If that sounds like a disparate bunch then their performance will be equalised by the FIA’s Balance of Performance formula, Jäger anticipating the #Merecedes-AMG-GT4
to run around 400bhp from its twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine. Today it’s at 503bhp…
The relationship to the GT R helps reduce costs. There’s a steel body instead of a GT3 car’s carbon, the GT4 has the same track as a GT R, the wishbones are off-the-shelf, and pretty much everything bar the safety equipment, slick tyres, bigger front splitter and electronics come from the road car.
Not that you’d know it inside: it’s pure racer. Trip the ignition switch, press the button on the pistol-grip wheel and the 4.0-litre V8’s cacophony fills the cabin. Keep the clutch floored, pull the right paddle and the first of its six gears is fired in, with a spit of air from the pneumatic system that selected it.
Plenty of revs, lift the clutch… and stall. A quick prod of the start button and the engine fires; more revs and the GT4 pulls out of the pits, juddering as it fights the urge to drive quickly. Everything about its make-up is about the pursuit of speed. It gets easier as the pace rises; the track, as #Jäger
suggests, is demanding but the car is an absolute joy.
There’s immediacy to its responses, the steering is sharp (though today there’s some safe understeer that could easily be dialled out), grip is sensational, the brakes are mighty. The eight laps that follow are a joyous mix of highs and frustrations, as it’s apparent that I’d need a lot more time and money to really get the best of it. Neither of which I have. If you do, you’re very lucky indeed.
Below With 503bhp from its #Twin-turbo #V8
, the #GT4
understeers safely around Paul Ricard – although its suspension settings are highly adjustable…