Open top AMGs turn up heat

It’s soon going to be open season for AMG cars – the Kiwi distributor is shooting for two hard-edged soft tops.


SAME engine, different sizes and – although the final stickers have yet to be sorted - substantially different price levels.

That’s the impending situation with the pair of ragtops out of AMG, one a convertible and the other a roadster, that will both become models of significant interest as Benz’s performance arm celebrates 2017 being its 50th year in business.

The C63 Cabriolet, below, is the ultimate version of the soft-headed C-Class Cabriolet range that is about to launch here; though the regular models arrive ahead of the performance flagship, the latter should likely be with us around or just after, Christmas.

That’s a sweet timing, not only because it makes an excellent last minute choice as a stocking filler for the well-heeled clientele but also because this hot model will be here in time for summer.

Sun-lovers holding out for the ‘other’ AMG car which places the same twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 in an even more exotic location, the GT Roadster (right), won’t have it so hot. In fact this much-anticipated derivative of the amazing GT S Coupe is set to arrive at a time when open-topped cars generally button up against the cold.

Mercedes-Benz New Zealand has confirmed the model just been unveiled by Germany ahead of a full reveal at the Paris motor show next week and is expected to arrive here around June, which is when thermometers are generally showing single figure returns at best.

Any chance customers will give it the cold shoulder, at least until the warmer months? Not according to the brand spokesman we contacted.

Matt Bruce reckons a model that, in being built in two blown V8-powered flavours, including one that bristles with all the good bits from AMG GT R Coupe, could be the hottest item in its niche will accordingly only create climate change for good.

“We expect to sell every vehicle allocated to New Zealand,” the brand PR told MotoringNetwork.

That doesn’t, of course, mean that it’s destined to be high volume product; quite the contrary, in all likelihood.

Although the New Zealand arm enjoys the world’s highest AMG volume as a percentage of total sales –so far this year Affalterbach cars have commanded 13 percent of local new Benz sales  – the GT S coupe has so far contributed just 12 registrations. AS you’d expect from a $275,000 product.

Could the roadster edition do better? Even though Mercedes NZ isn’t keen to talk dollars yet, the open air versions are almost certainly going to cost even more than the Coupe.

Says Bruce: “We're confident that there will be strong interest in the new Roadster.

“…we expect momentum to continue as we head into the 50th anniversary of AMG.”

Despite being the premier boulevard cruisers, these cars are born to run just as hard as their hardtop donors.

The C63 S cab and GT Roadster take the new V8 in its 350kW/630Nm format. Which would be quicker in a 0-100kmh sprint? manufacturer-supplied data suggests the Roadster will have an edge, albeit by just a fraction – with a cited time of four seconds flat against 4.1 for the C-Class variant.

Too close for comfort? Maybe Benz felt the same. Hence there’s also a flagship GT C Roadster with the same engine, but boosted to a healthier 410kW and 680Nm – just 20kW and 20Nm short of the outputs claimed for the recently announced GT R Coupe which, according to rumour, will also here around June next year.

The extra oomph slices 0.3 seconds from the claimed 0-100kmh sprint time, bringing it down to 3.7 seconds. That makes the ‘C’ (and what that letter stands for is anyone’s guess) faster than all Porsche 911 Cabriolet variants except the full-house Turbo (3.1s) and Turbo S (3.0s).

Both GT Roadster variants are said to be capable of more than 300kmh, with the C Roadster apparently topping out at 316kmh.

The AMG GT Roadster C differentiates from the Roadster is having fatter rear haunches – 57mm wider than the standard fare – housing wider rear wheels with 305/30 tyres for a wider track. It also adopts the active rear steering and locking differential that go into the GT R Coupe.

To cut weight, the GT Roadster employs a light cloth folding roof mounted on a lightweight frame of magnesium, steel and aluminium that opens and closes in about 11 seconds at up to 50kmh.

Like its GT Coupe counterpart, the body-work is an exotic mix of magnesium, aluminium and composite materials to save further weight. The bootlid of the Roadster gets a world-first Benz high-tech composite boot lid that is said to combine extreme light weight with strength and slick finish.

Extra strengthening to make up for the absence of the roof includes more rigid side skirts, as well as reinforcement under the dash and behind the seats.

The Roadster rides on double-wishbone suspension that, in the case of the C, includes AMG’s adaptive damping suspension.

While the GT Roadster gets four selectable driving modes – Comfort, Sport and Sport-Plus and Individual (a driver-selected set-up) – the GT C also gets AMG’s Race mode for thrill seekers.

In the sportier modes, two variable adjustable flaps in the sports exhaust open to deliver an exhaust note that AMG describes as “far more emotive”. This exhaust will be an option on the standard GT Roadster too.

Both GT Roadster variants gets the GT R’s active air management grille louvres that open and close according to engine cooling need, thus improving aerodynamic flow for much of the time. As well, a pop-up bootlid spoiler comes with both variants.

While some luxury convertibles use a pop-up roll bar for crash protection, the GT Roadster has fixed bars behind each of the two seats that, for the first time on an AMG vehicle, can be equipped with Mercedes’ Airscarf neck warmer as an option.

Nappa leather upholstery is standard fare on the upper variant, while both come with Burmester audio.