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The Epitome of Speed

In conjunction with celebrating the 50th Anniversary of AMG, esteemed media and guests were invited to Sepang International Circuit to check out The Beast itself and to also try out different AMG sports cars on the race-track. Oh, what fun!

Many weeks back on a fateful Thursday, I was assigned to cover a special event at Sepang International Circuit: the 50th Anniversary of AMG and also, to have a short sampling of the new and stellar, AMG-GT R by Mercedes-AMG. I was nervous to say the least because of the last-minute assignment as it was my first time attending a track session by myself. What’s more, I was going to review these amazing AMG cars by driving them hard on track, all by myself. Full of jitters, I woke up early that Thursday, around 5am, to do some last-minute reading and video watching to learn as much as I could about the AMG fleet, and also to brush up on some track driving acumen. While I was Uber-ing my way to the circuit, feelings of anxiety and excitement were quickly building up inside me but I found it in me to keep myself steady by the time I saw those famous paddocks of Sepang.
Upon arrival, I was given a warm welcome by Mercedes-Benz Malaysia staff but as I walked into the room, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with the amount of media and experienced racers savouring their breakfast and exchanging opinions about the automotive industry. Of course, a particular hot topic was about how AMG cars have shaped and moulded a new generation of gearheads. Upon walking out from the paddock, I saw the parade of different Mercedes AMGs parked accordingly on the track as though they were an army ready for battle. As we were listening to the welcome speech done by Vishal Bhaskaran from Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, a sudden roar could be heard thundering coming across the entire Sepang International Circuit. As we all turned around, an immaculately and beautifully toned beast was performing a series of doughnuts, burning rubber and all. It took me no time to guess that it was the long-awaited Mercedes-AMG GT R. What an entrance it made and I thought it was a very cool and stylish way to symbolically tell everyone how Mercedes-Benz AMG have created a car that is basically a monster in dapper clothing.

Staying true to the tradition of AMG, this new AMG GT R serves as a calling card of sorts for the famous German marque. As the flamboyant Mark Raine, Vice President, Sales & Marketing Passenger Cars, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia walked out of the beast stylishly with his famous grin, it served as a reminder to all that there is a lot of confidence behind this new hot-rod and its figures do all the talking on first impressions: a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of just of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 318 km/h. As I first set my eyes on the front of the AMG GT R, I couldn’t help but bow to its aggressive presence and athletic build; wide, low and in my opinion, there’s a little influence of DC Comic’s version of Batman’s Bat-mobile. But in truth, and from spec sheet data, I can tell you right off the bat that never before has Mercedes-AMG packed so much motorsport technology into a production car than into this new AMG GT R.

I take my hats off to the engineers and designers at Mercedes-Benz and their stellar AMG motors sports division. This marque has transformed from very steady design look to this ultra-aggressive, sporty and immaculate look, and of course, not to mention its very powerful engine. The powerful engine is nothing short of brutal capability. It’s a hand-built, AMG 4.0-litre twin-turbo engine that has an impressive output of 585 hp and a peak torque of 700 Nm, available between 1,900 and 5,500 rpm. Just on this alone, one can anticipate a lot of revving joy and straight-line sprint action. This engine for the AMG GT R is hand-finished in AMG’s famous production plant in Affalterbach and stays true to its long tradition of the “One Man – One Engine” philosophy. In other words, every AMG engine is assembled cautiously and precisely by a single AMG master engine builder, which worth noting especially since this year has been all about celebrating 50 years of AMG.

​As I perused the car even more closely with its spec sheet data in one hand and my excitement in the other, I was captivated at how a seamless looking sports car has all kinds of tech goodies hidden under all its stylish body. For you information, power from its big engine is transferred to the rear wheels via an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed dual clutch transmission. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission configured in transaxle layout at the rear axle has likewise been extensively revised by the AMG developers from the AMG GT stock variant. As compared to the GT or GT S, the AMG GT R’s transmission has been modified in terms of hardware and software to make behind-wheel experience all the more scintillating. 

Since the 4.0-litre V8 engine has been up-tuned, the driving maps of the car have also been re-assessed and applied through the Dynamic Select controller. The various driving modes are available Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual and probably everyone’s favourite surely, ‘RACE’ mode. By pressing on the separate “M” button in the centre console, the driver can activate the manual transmission mode in any drive mode. So basically, by the tap of a button, one can discover how the AMG GT R is truly designed to be a hooligan on track or a civilised stroller on public roads. All these changes to its V8 mill and transmission also means that it has gotten an extensively-modified suspension setup which together with a much lighter construction of its chassis, has translated into an improved aerodynamic expression. The fact that it completed a steady time of 7:10.92 out on the Nürburgring Nordschleife says how it now sits up there with some legendary cars already.

Having spent most of its development time on the Nürburgring racetrack, the exceptional lap time in the Green Hell comes as no surprise. What has also contributed to this is in its a new active aerodynamics profile, which is concealed almost invisibly in the underbody in front of the engine. At a speed of 80 km/h in RACE mode, this carbon component, weighing only about two kilograms, automatically moves downward by about 40 millimetres and changes the airflow considerably. This process results in what is known as the ‘Venturi’ effect, which draws the car towards the road and reduces the front-axle lift by around 40 kilograms at 250 km/h. This I thought it to be quite amazing, because the attention to detailed placed by the German brand into this new version of the AMG GT is commendable.

Towards the end of that nervy Thursday, I also had the opportunity to try out a host of different Mercedes-Benz AMGs like the GLA 45, SLC 43, C 43, C 43 Coupe, GLC 43 and the predecessor to the GT R, the AMG GT S. While I also learnt to clean up my driver’s acumen out on one of the best tracks in the world (Sepang) it also dawned on me how sometimes you just need to step out from your comfort zone to see how far you go and this is something Mercedes-Benz and AMG have been doing for years. While the rest of the automotive industry prefers to walk with guiding ropes, the German brand goes at it head-strong, sprinting into the future. This AMG GT R to opinion is a testament to this. It’s also needless to say that on that day out on Sepang, as a budding new journalist and media professional, a few dreams came to pass and I also believe that is what Mercedes-Benz AMG stands for also; making dreams a reality.  

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