In the second part of our Fast & Luxurious car series from the Summer 2021 issue, LUX’s car reviewer takes the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé for a test drive around England’s country lanes
Fast, four-door saloon cars used to be among the most exciting things on the road, believe it or not. In the 1980s, BMW produced its first M5, with the racing engine from its M1 supercar. At the time, it was a car that had it all, speed to match the Ferrari of the day, but comfort and reliability and space as well.
A tuning company in Germany called AMG started doing similar things to solid, dull, respectable, comfortable Mercedes cars of the time. They took one and made it something called the Hammer, which became a legend, so rare and desirable that it is now an expensive classic car.
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Since then, technological advances have made this category swell to the point of mundanity. A Tesla is now as fast as a Ferrari, without claiming to be ‘sporting’ in any way – in fact the whole concept of what constitutes a sports car is being eroded, but that’s a different matter.
Every prestige manufacturer now produces a very fast car that can fit the whole family and its Irish wolfhound, and generally these machines are astonishingly capable and often astonishingly unremarkable to drive.
As a consequence, we approached the AMG GT 4-Door (yes, that’s its name) with mixed feelings. AMG was purchased and absorbed into Mercedes 20 years ago. Within this range from this single manufacturer alone, there are more than 20 cars which can easily go faster than you could possibly imagine going, unless you have a private race track or autobahn at your disposal.
Meanwhile, the AMG GT, the two-door sports car on which this big saloon is based, is very rapid, and exciting on the right day, but a bit uni-dimensional. It wants to be loud and go fast. All. The. Time.
How would that translate into a four-door, four-seater car whose raison d’être is to be versatile? And aren’t there enough fast, spacious AMGs already?
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Press the start button and – ROWWF. This is a big car with a big heart, its turbocharged V8 very much telling you it is there. It doesn’t take long to work out what kind of car this is. The steering is direct and responsive and has a little bit of feedback – rare in these years of electrically assisted steering. Mercedes does an excellent job in this area, best of any of its direct rivals. Which makes it a very satisfying car to drive, even at low speeds.
On the open highway, the car settles into a comfortable cruise, rumble from the engine telling you that it wants to play, but it is neither restless nor intrusive. The ride is comfortable. The interior is sculpted, luxurious and highly digital. It feels like taking a big but friendly dog out for a walk – straining at its leash a little but well trained.
The big surprise, though, comes when hurling this big, super-powerful car down a country lane. It feels neither big nor heavy, instead as eager as a large puppy.
It burns down straights and lollops around corners delightedly, always enthusiastic, highly capable, and highly enjoyable. It feels faster than any of the other hyper-saloon cars on sale, although there is no way anyone would be able to feel that different on a public road, apart from in a couple of instances over a couple of seconds each time. But most importantly, it feels fun, in an almost old-fashioned way. It is not clinical, like so many cars.
Interestingly, this does not come with any significant compromises. The seats are the best we have tried in any saloon car. It may not be as quiet as some cars, but it is far more relaxing to drive than its two-door sibling.
It’s only real drawback is that it is priced at a higher category to cars like the current BMW M5. That is completely justified, for its combination of even higher performance, more comfort and sophistication. But at that price level, you are into the world of even more prestigious brands, where a name counts for as much as anything else in the ownership experience. So while this is probably the best big super-saloon car ever made we are not sure whether it will find a big market. It deserves to.
LUX rating: 19/20
Find out more: mercedes-amg.com
This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.