The AMG logo on go-faster Mercedes cars – like the super-quick 3.2 seconds to 62mph AMG GT 4-door coupe – might be familiar to some, but the backstory of those enigmatic initials is less so. As with so many good tales, AMG’s beginnings involve talented humans pursuing their dreams against all odds. Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher are the stars of this history. The two engineers were working in the 1960s development department of Daimler-Benz when the company decided to discontinue its motorsport activities.
Undeterred, Aufrecht and Melcher spent their spare time in Aufrecht’s house honing the 300 SE racing engine in Grossaspach – thus the A, M and G in what would become AMG – and the resulting car went on to win ten times in the 1965 German Touring Car Championship. Fresh from that success Melcher persuaded Aufrecht to join him in a new venture founded in 1967 which has grown into the performance legend of AMG today via F1 and DTM success in motorsport plus decades of road-going car brilliance in optimising factory-fresh Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
In 2005 Mercedes’ parent company Daimler decided to acquire 100 per cent of AMG’s shares and set up the Mercedes-AMG division. The company now has its own plant in Affalterbach, close enough to Mercedes’ Sindelfingen HQ to get access to the bigger brand’s resources while still retaining a crucial independence. AMG sales have steadily increased in line with Mercedes’ wider success, with 118,204 units shipped in 2018 – five percent of total Mercedes registrations. From a business perspective AMG sales are highly profitable too, as the brand has been honed through design and marketing to further differentiate its products from regular Mercedes cars.
At the top of that road-car tree (for now) is the GT range, from the two-seater coupe and roadster, to the new GT four-door coupe, which allows families or more friends to enjoy the AMG experience via two more doors and a genuinely spacious rear seat package. AMG GT models’ vertical grille slats clearly differentiate it on the road and the ‘designo brilliant blue magno’ matt-satin paint effect turns heads on the road. Despite its otherwise stealthy elegance, those who know, really stare, but as the GT 63 S 4MATIC model we tested costs £135,550 – before £17,000 of added options – that’s got to be a large part of the point. If the AMG GT’s feel-good factor is secured before you sit behind the wheel and appreciate the quality of its fit, finish and materials – from open-pore grey ash wood to 64 LED ambient light settings – the driving experience is even more special.
The 639hp 4.0 V8 petrol engine with 9-speed paddle-shift automatic gearbox is super-quiet and refined at low speeds and remarkably easy to drive smoothly around town, but will quickly growl into life when the accelerator is pressed firmly and road conditions allow.
Five driving modes can easily be toggled through on the centre console from Comfort to Sport+ and in the S spec model a sixth Race mode is added for extra track-day ability. Awash with technology beyond its racing gadgetry – from seat sides that actively grip the driver reassuringly through corners and a widescreen infotainment screen with high resolution mapping and more – the experience is ‘king of the castle’ stuff and perhaps a little less obvious than its top-end Porsche Panamera rival. An awesome package that has come a long way from AMG’s extra-curricular origins.
Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door coupe, from £121,350. For more information, visit the Mercedes-AMG website
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