The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Gives The Porsche Panamera A Run For Its Money

Photo: All Photos Credit: Kurt Bradley
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The wickedly fast, ridiculously expensive, please don’t call them sedans even though they’re totally sedans segment has blown up in recent years. “Four-door coupes” like the Audi S7, BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe and Porsche Panamera all fight for damn near $200,000 from your well-diversified portfolio. Mercedes has had an offering in this class—the CLS—for many years, but it wanted to introduce a more dedicated performance four-door grand tourer. Meet the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door.

Just don’t call it a sedan.

(Full Disclosure: Mercedes-AMG forced me to join them in Austin, eat some fine meals in a slick restaurant and a massive house in Westlake, drink a few bourbons, and drive their new car around the Texas Hill Country and around Circuit of The Americas. They also offered to put me up in a swanky hotel, but I like sleeping in my own bed when I get to do an assignment in my home city in the middle of my busy season. Also, through my independent photography business, I did Austin location scouting consulting services for AMG’s PR firm for this event earlier this year; none of those photos were used in this review as a result.)

What Is It?

Despite that name and the obvious appeal of having a multi-doored, multi-seated version of the badass AMG GT Coupe, the folks at AMG insist it’s not a four-door version of the chassis under that car. Instead it’s an all-new chassis, a modified version of the modular MRA platform that underpins the C-Class, E-Class and other modern Benzes.

Still, AMG says it’s ready to take on any challenge you throw at it. To drive this point home, and convince us all that this car is its own thing and a blast to hoon in its own right, the Germans set up an introductory drive of this car in Austin, Texas.

And when you come to Austin, you have to come to Circuit of the Americas. It’s a law we have down here now.

Interestingly, the car was developed by AMG itself, so it’s not just a tuned-up version of a normal Mercedes-Benz. The intent is to provide the sporting driver a grand tourer that carries four adults and all their stuff, can hold its own on any fun drive across a couple hundred miles that happens to end up at a Formula One circuit, and then throws down a dozen or so competent laps.

Packing the good front- and rear-end looks of the AMG GT Coupe, I rather like the look of it, compared to, say, a Panamera.

AMG isn’t shy when it claims that this car is intended to take down that particular Porsche on the street and around a racetrack. That’s an ambitious goal, as the Panamera is a mighty and well-regarded machine. Our boss Patrick George tested the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo back in April, and gave it some high praise.

The Numbers That Count

You get three engine options here: a 3.0-liter inline-six in the AMG GT 53, and two versions of the punchy 4.0-liter V8 in the AMG GT 63 and GT S variant.

All engines are turbocharged, hooked up to AMG’s multi-clutch automatic Speedshift TCT nine-speed transmission, and are filled with the latest performance tech you’d expect from any new, expensive Mercedes.

In 63 S guise, which I drove, you get 630 horsepower from 5,500 RPM to 6,500 RPM and 664 lb-ft of torque from 2,500 to 5,000 RPM. AMG claims it’ll go from 0-60 in 3.1 seconds, and hit an electronically limited top track speed of 195 mph. That’ll do.

Featuring a sportback rear end, the four-door coupe allows for a good amount of storage flexibility, and a big back seat with a ton of legroom, thanks to its 116.2-inch wheelbase.

Because it’s big and loaded with a ton of luxury and performance features, it isn’t exactly light. AMG didn’t provide curb weights at the time of publication, but I’d expect it to be around 4,400 pounds.

Bits That Stand Out

One expects anything out of Affalterbach to be splendid, and the fit and finish is the best you’ll see in any car costing way more—the materials are space age stuff. BMW needs to step up its game to get close to this level.

AMG threw in a smart four-wheel-drive system, with a variable front axle torque distribution system, to keep the power sorted to the correct wheels in any condition. When you’re ready to give the car a flick in the corners, their new rear-axle steering setup really comes into focus. Around the fun bends just outside of Austin, and around COTA, I made sure to shake them down.

Benz is famous for leading the way on safety and tech on its most expensive models, so inside you’ll find a ton of personalization options to make sure you’re as comfortable as you are fast.

The instrument panels are easily the coolest in the business, with a pair of 12.3-inch screens, one in front of the driver, with a plethora of gauge and information views to suit your demands, and the center display filled with all the navigation, media, car data, and telephone information.

Having a hatch in the back gives you a great amount of storage space, with flexibility to load in bigger items. AMG also offers folding rear seats, should you need to load in sheets of plywood or whatever bulky stuff you desire transporting. The rear’s packaging is clean looking, and frankly I like how the curves work back there.

Any Complaints?

If you want to find out the best way to set up the car for your demands on the street or around a circuit, you’re going to spend half an hour playing with various screens, switches, and buttons.

When it comes to interior style and comfort levels, it’s as stunning as any Mercedes-Benz on the market today. But this also means you’ve got a million ways to change up the interior lighting, climate control flow (and scent, yeah really), and mood of the whole cabin.

While that’s cool, it does get a bit complicated. It may turn you into a total snob, but it’s still badass to have all this tech in a car, just as PG discovered when we took the Mercedes-Benz S560 Coupe for a test in Detroit at the beginning of the year.

The game to get the most miles per gallon and reduce emissions means many manufacturers are working in as many ratios as possible into the gearbox. Nine speeds is a lot, and if you’re on a fun road, I don’t like having to deal with the car switching back and forth between three or four gears when only moving up 30 or so miles per hour.

Maybe I just need to get used to cars wanting to be in sixth gear or higher when you’re only going 45 mph in town.

On The Fun Roads

Any grand tourer in this class should hold its own on a twisty stretch of highway, but the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe is truly splendid. The AMG Ride Control+ system is a multi-chamber air suspension with adjustable damping, and I played with it in Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes to figure out which I liked most on road.

Easily the Sport mode was just responsive enough without being too stiff, going against my initial expectations of going to the typical old man KB mode with the dampers in their softest mode while putting the suspension, engine, and transmission in their sportiest setups. I love the quick adjustment options by either using the Dynamic Select toggle on the center console or via the knob on the right side of the steering wheel.

The 4.0 liter V8 may pack a pair of turbos that you’d expect to suck any life out of the engine’s sound out back, but it’s surprisingly rumbly, with a wicked baritone note. The little exhaust crackles are perfectly poppy when you back off the throttle too.

AMG’s electromechanical speed-sensitive sports steering exhibits a smooth feel in any corner, at any speed, and possesses surprisingly more weight than I expected. Usually the electric steering setups in bigger cars is more numb, and frankly too light for my tastes. Thankfully this thing also utilizes rear-axle steering with the right amount of push when you are carving a faster bend.

Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber—measuring 315 mm in the back!—wrapped around forged lightweight 21-inch wheels kept me stuck to any curve, and were perfectly quiet on the highway. The 63 S comes standard with six-piston front and single-piston rear steel brakes, and offers optional ceramic discs should you want to lose unsprung weight and fade when you’re really beating on the brakes.

For those paying attention to how much fuel they consume, AMG developed their own cylinder deactivation system to keep the fuel economy up and the emissions down.

Pushed On Track

Given that most GT 4-Door Coupe owners will stick to the road, AMG’s engineers still made this new car perfectly at home on the track. The AMG GT 63 S doesn’t just have a brilliant 630 HP turbocharged V8 under the hood, but the driveline and back end pack some serious kit to keep things in order under the biggest demands.

I am no stranger to COTA, getting to play on the circuit about once a month, with plenty of experience in the world’s fastest road cars and the occasional race car.

In my first session in the AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe, it took no time at all to get used to the size and weight of the car, quickly getting adapted to how it composes itself at higher speeds. The AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system helps keep the power wisely delivered to the wheels, with the rear end permanently driven and the front driven variably, depending on the driver’s input, with an electro-mechanically controlled clutch.

Driver modes on the track are known under what Mercedes calls “AMG Dynamics,” offering finer tuning to your driving mode with Basic, Advanced, Pro, and Master settings to tweak the steering, throttle response, suspension, and all-wheel-drive performance to your liking. To take the track theme to another level, you can also change up your instrument cluster settings with options for Classic, Sport, and an all-new Supersport display.

The Supersport setting throws in additional displays that indicate when to upshift, similar to the steering wheel lights in Lewis Hamilton’s F1 car. I love the additional buttons on the left side of the steering wheel that allow you to customize options to change settings for the suspension, exhaust, and performance drive mode.

Making sure the back end communicates your steering inputs just as well as the front, AMG equipped the GT 4-Door Coupe with their trick active rear-wheel steering, which points the rear wheels in the opposite direction when traveling at speeds under 62 mph, and in the same direction as the fronts once you exceed that.

When in the S-turn section of turns 3, 4, and 5 of COTA, you really notice how well this setup works to keep the car perfectly rotated while managing the super long wheelbase’s efforts to understeer. With a ton of active aero bits working in and around the front grille and ducts, you can be certain the AMG witchcraft is ensuring air is forced into the right places to keep your ass in place.

Considering this car probably weighs over 4,000 pounds, it really moves around easily. There is zero body roll in a heavy corner, and there’s just a slight bit of understeer, which wasn’t hard to overcome with a heavier right foot and a hint of throttle steering. The big ceramic brake discs confidently brought me down from over 160 mph to under 50 at the end of COTA’s 3/4-mile back straight before making the sharp left at turn 12.

My only wish for a track test was to ditch the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires for a set of their Cup 2 rubber, as they hold up better to the demands of a stack of hot sessions around an F1 track. The 4S started to degrade quickly at the front end, and would pronounce way more understeer as they got to the end of their life. Not that this car is really going to be put to the test on track often by its owners, but the 4S is not a great track tire for a 4,000+ pound car.

Early Verdict

First drive events don’t let you get a ton of time in the car, but I got a good taste. The AMG GT 4-Door Coupe is definitely a solid package all around, and there’s a strong chance it could cut into Porsche’s Panamera sales figures.

We haven’t seen official U.S. pricing yet, but expect this car to easily exceed $175,000—in Europe at least it’s more expensive than an S63. For that sort of coin, you could get an AMG E63 S and a fun car like a 718 Cayman in your garage.

Sure, the AMG GT 63 S 4-Door Coupe does the duties of two cars in one, but that’s a lot of cash at the end of the day. Having driven the E63 not too long ago, I can tell you it’s hard to want much more than that.

But if you do, and if you need four doors and don’t want an SUV and adamantly refuse to refer to your car as a sedan, AMG won’t let you down here.

This story has been updated with an additional note to the full disclosure.