When Mercedes-AMG ended the production of its first in-house supercar, the mostly beguiling, in coupe form at least, SLS, I felt that the successor would have to be a thing of such intent and purpose, it should outclass its predecessor in all but one aspect — pricing.

The SLS coupe with its gullwing doors brought a sense of occasion. Yes, the 6.2l V8 engine remained a peach, but those doors, well, that was the best bit of that car. The SLS roadster lost all that allure as it had conventional doors and the extra body flex made it a blunt instrument on the dynamic side of things.

Fast forward to 2016 and along came the AMG GT, the successor to the SLS and the outfit’s challenge to the Porsche 911. Less ungainly, more compact and more gifted in traction, the AMG GT, particularly in S variant, is a driver’s car by all accounts.

Now the roadster version has arrived and it has mostly not lost any of its coupe’s kerb appeal; in fact it has racked it up a few notches. This is partly thanks to the vertically slatted Panamericana grille and the wider rear (measuring an extra 68mm) over the regular roadster to accommodate the wider, 305/30/20 inch, tyres, which are key to the GTC roadster’s prodigious grip and the way it steers.

The cabin is festooned with the highest-quality materials and the overall layout is one of the best in the game — sporty, yet simple and elegant. The 4.0l V8 twin-turbo engine that powers the entire AMG GT range has been boosted further to thump out 410kW and 680Nm to the rear axle — complete with an electronic differential — via a seven-speed automatic transmission. The AMG GTC roadster is positioned between the already-fast GTS and the foam-at-the-mouth GTR in the range’s hierarchy and is the fastest open-top production Mercedes.

While the focus in on the steering wheel, that fighter jet style centre console is a strong design detail
While the focus in on the steering wheel, that fighter jet style centre console is a strong design detail
Image: Daimler

It has received adaptive dampers to aid compliance on the one end and stiffen it up on the other and the chassis has been considerably stiffened with little in the way of body flex. It feels more buttoned-down to the road than the GTS coupe.

Thanks to the inclusion of rear-wheel steering, the vehicle feels even more agile at some lick through corners with a more predictable steering feel on initial turn-in than I can remember from the GTS coupe.

Even with the three-layer fabric roof tucked away that takes 11 seconds to peel off up to 50km/h, the GTC roadster is quite stiff, in a more positive manner than you might expect.

Yes, broken and scarred tarmac does send some judder into the cabin, courtesy of the stiffer frame and big wheels, but the upshot is in the way that the model is eager to steer.

The engine is more than happy to breathe below 2,000r/min around town as though you are simply going to the café to get some bread and milk. You can also opt to have the exhaust neutered and the dampers slackened as though you are travelling in an inconspicuous C-Class sedan.

However, should you want to cajole the Lewis Hamilton in you, then simply flip the rotary dial into Race mode and all the mechanicals will be primed to the ultimate degree while the traction control will give some movement on the rear axle to give a very controlled degree of oversteer.

To this end, the GTC is fun, raucous and satisfyingly good as a driver’s car. Yes, the chassis does feel slightly overwhelmed by the extra poke under full bore acceleration from standstill, but then it settles into a rhythm and gets on with the business of being a speed merchant.

It is proper rock’n’roll, fire-and-brimstone antics at the brawny end and rhythm and blues and civilised manners on its more intellectual and docile side. While a Porsche 911 Turbo S convertible will likely be more compliant and more efficient as a daily driver, the Mercedes-AMG GTC in contrast has a more extrovert character and is more likely to swing from the chandeliers at a party.

It is a rewarding car to drive spiritedly, an enjoyable one when you are not in the mood, and those classic long bonnet and short rear roadster proportions mean your travels will be anything but incognito.

This article was originally published by the Business Day.
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