Mercedes camped out in Phoenix with its new AMG GT C Roadster for two whole weeks, sending journalists through the desert to Sedona and back in roaring herds of 20 or more candy-colored convertible supercars each day. And the police were definitely aware of our presence.
You can hardly blame the authorities for wanting to shoot some fish in a barrel. It is sort of a laughable exercise, launching the world’s motoring media force through a gauntlet of vigilant cops while testing the boundaries of cars that can bust through triple-digit speeds without breaking a sweat. But auto journos have licenses to protect just like everybody else, and while the police handed out a few citations over the period, we were able to learn a lot about the new Roadster while staying on the near side of the law. It was tempting: occasional squirts of highly combustible adrenaline were certainly injected into the growly twin-turbo AMG V8s on remoter stretches and serpentine roads, but quite a lot of fun can be had feeling the car work its magic at mortal velocities.
Engine: 550-hp, 502 lb-ft torque twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Dual-clutch 7-speed automatic
0-60: 3.7 seconds
Top speed: 198 mph
That the car is as much a pleasure at semi-restrained driving as it is at white-knuckle speeds owes much to its general geometry. Its front engine and acres of hood ahead give the car a chariot-like feel. Couple this with the new convertible roof — a three-layer affair that nicely insulates you from wind noise and vanishes in about 11 seconds — and you have an open-air super-sleigh pulled by 550 horses. Driving the GT C Roadster in Comfort mode feels like a steady trot on a thoroughbred that’s ready for a full gallop at any moment. And GT C delivers when you want to start stitching sharp turns together rather than glide gently between them. Active rear steering, larger brakes up front, a wider track at the rear, and the addition of a torqued-up Race mode in this model best the 476 horsepower base (non-C) Roadster’s specs, and ensure that you can push the sleigh as hard as you dare. Even with the top gone, the car still feels nice and flat in the turns, thanks to suspension tuning to accommodate the lost roof structure. That suspension tuning is necessarily stiff in the Sport and Race modes, and even in Comfort it retains a certain edge to it. So I wouldn’t quite call this a touring car — it’s a proper sports car. After 300 miles, you start to feel it.