There’s no such thing as a cheap AMG car, but the Mercedes-AMG GT43, new for 2021, is an opportunity to get into a reasonably equipped example of these killer family-capable GTs for around $100,000. The model follows higher-priced variants such as the GT53 ($99,950), GT63 ($140,600), and GT63S ($161,900).
What’s the difference? The GT43, starting at $89,900, offers a mild-hybrid turbocharged three-liter inline six with 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. That certainly appears adequate, and it can reach 60 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds. But the GT53 offers a version in a higher state of tune, with 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet. Splurge for the four-liter V-8-powered GT63S and, wow, now we have 630 horsepower and 664 pound-feet, plus zero to 60 times of 3.1 seconds, making it faster than a Porsche Panamera Turbo.
It’s your choice, but any one of these cars is going to be fun to drive, with head-turning looks. Frankly, Mercedes- Benz styling has been off a bit lately, and the four-door GT (a radically restyled E-Class) is evidence of finding the groove again. It looks fast. The GT is a curvaceous car; there’s hardly a straight line in the design. Mercedes calls it a four-door coupe, which sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it’s justified by the fastback shape.
As equipped, the test GT43 was $106,545. And that’s with a lot of extras, including the essential driver assistance package ($1,950, and including a wide range of safety technology you won’t want to do without in a car this fast), a performance exhaust ($1,850), an upgraded headliner ($1,600), 20-inch black AMG wheels ($1,250), and a fixed panoramic roof ($2,100). A nine-speed automatic with shift paddles is standard, as is all-wheel drive.
On the road, the 362 horses felt like enough. The GT responded instantly to the throttle with a firm thrust forward. It wasn’t in supercar territory, but still felt like very rapid transit. Handling via the smallish, flat-bottomed wheel was very precise, and the sport suspension ride very firm—you’ll get to know the potholes personally.
But overall, this Mercedes didn’t feel like a fire-breathing muscle machine. It’s a luxury cruiser if you want it to be, and behaves itself on Sunday drives, with an exhaust note that’s nice without being annoying. Drive it conservatively, and you might actually see the 25 miles per gallon on the highway that is the car’s EPA rating.
What makes this car a mild hybrid? There’s a small electric motor coupled to an electric supercharger, which acts as a booster before the turbo is fully engaged.
The appointments in the car were so opulent it’s hard to imagine how they up the ante in the GT53 and 63. The tester had wireless phone charging, a Burmester premium surround-sound audio system (with overly complicated controls), a power trunk, and lighted AMG sill plates. The only thing missing was a heated steering wheel. The car even had the $350 fragrance ionizer package.
The GT43 cabin was gorgeous in Red Pepper Nappa leather with black accents. Big circular vents are a major design element, and the informative digital dash is—unexpected in a Mercedes—a display of many colors. Knobs are largely eschewed in favor of a computer-like touchpad that’s clumsy to use, especially while driving.
Rear-seat passengers get USB charging and more of those vents. They also get more headroom than you’d expect, given the GT’s sharply raked rear roof line. What they don’t get is legroom, if front-seat occupants are tall. The problem is compounded by front seats mounted close to the floor, with no room out back to provide a safe harbor for your feet. On the positive side, the trunk at 12.7 cubic feet is cavernous, if a little shallow.
The Benz stable has other performance choices in this basic ballpark. The 523-horsepower AMG GT coupe is awaiting a price for 2021, but it’s likely to be north of $115,000. Then there’s the AMG CLS53, another coupe with four doors, starting at $81,550. The performance is broadly similar, though—429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, with zero to 60 in 4.3 seconds.