ABERDEEN, Scotland—Drive long enough through the wilds of the Scottish Highlands, where a low sun hovers over snow-splashed hummocks more closely resembling the landscape of Hoth than anywhere you’ve been on Earth, and you might be convinced you’ve been transported to another solar system. Reality here looks so twisted, you might also start believing Mercedes-Benz’s party line that the four-door 2020 AMG GT is a “coupe.” Semantics aside, a grand tour through the remotest stretches of Scotland offers a truer test of a GT than, say, hot laps at COTA. The truth is out there, man.
The new AMG GT 4-Door posits itself as sweet relief for speed fiends saddled with responsibilities like family, friends, and cargo. The $137,495 GT 63 plucks the 577-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 from the phenomenal GT R coupe (an actual two-door), and that’s not even the top of the food chain. The $159,995 GT 63 S goes thermonuclear with a 630-hp powerplant that churns up 664 lb-ft, a 74-lb-ft improvement over the non-S, or about a superbike’s worth of additional twist. A saner option also exists with the entry level GT 53 (price TBD), which swaps the hot-rod V-8s for an inline-six that gets some electric assistance to make 429 horsepower. But in keeping with the theme of going to extremes, M-B omitted that last model from our two-day excursion through Middle Earth.
We opt to drive the top-shelf AMG GT 63 S first in the sub-freezing temperatures, our route winding with tight, windy stretches that put the sedan’s skillset into sharp focus. (That the cars were right-hand drive put a finer point on it, as well.) Rather than go full tilt and launch control the beast before Brexiting apexes in drift mode, we adopt for sensibility and explore this fleet four-door’s more discreet, less life-threatening side—at least at first.
Though we usually eschew any Wet/Rain chassis modes in favor of heading toward more slide-y settings, sampling that program seemed prudent in these conditions. The AMG GT 4-Door’s mildest mode serves up reassuringly gentle throttle response; a stability-control philosophy so conservative it makes Ann Coulter jealous; and a progressive, supple suspension tune. There’s enough controlled power to make the sensation emboldening: Despite the ludicrous reserves lurking beneath the bulged hood—the car is officially claimed to travel from zero to 60 mph in as little as 3.1 seconds, which is likely understated—there’s nothing spooky about piloting the all-wheel-drive GT on these wet roads. Even better, the four-wheel steering system engages transparently at higher velocities, switching from counterphase (which helps maneuverability at low speeds) to in-phase to enhance agility with none of the jarring, tail-swinging tendencies exhibited by some sports cars with four-wheel steering.
Once at ease with the wet roads and high horsepower, the GT’s cabin proves a luxurious and pleasant space for long-distance driving. There’s refreshing modernity in the space, with artful curves to the leather and hide-lined dashboard, new color display buttons on the center stack and steering wheel, and a decidedly distinct feeling throughout. From the turbine-look air vents to the bare aluminum and open-pore wood trim, this is not your grandpa’s E-class, even though you can add more mature touches like quilted leather and massaging seats. But there are also some ergonomic oddities for this 21st-century steed, including a touchpad that invites accidental taps and acres of display screens—two customizable 12.3-inch screens Benz dubs “Widescreen Cockpit”—that aren’t touch-sensitive.
The available seats range from soft and multi-adjustable to über-supportive with fixed headrests, and the rear accommodations can also be ordered in two dramatically different forms: fixed carbon-fiber-shell buckets, or a so-called executive rear-seat package that brings a large, touchpad-equipped center console and reclining backrests. Either way, the rear quarters only accommodate two. The sloped roofline, the inspiration behind the “coupe” misnomer, makes the space feel snug and intimate, but not overly constrictive.
Driving enthusiasts willing and able to shell out for rare, high-horsepower alternatives to conventional sedans like the AMG GT 4-Door will savor the stiffer chassis and razor responsiveness. There’s a prevailing feeling of directness from behind the wheel, a connectedness that matches the deeply stylish interior and exterior. The cabin is more alluring than the exterior, though; while it isn’t as airy as that of an E-class or as plush as that of an S-Class, the GT is its own animal, coming across as new and fresh as the CLS did when it bowed some 15 years ago.
Despite our noblest intentions, we finally couldn’t resist tapping into the big, beautiful geyser of power on a particularly barren stretch of road outside of the Glenfiddich distillery. Bury the throttle, and GT lurches ahead with disarming, eye-widening muscle. Our test car’s winter tires didn’t diminish the experience, and they combined with the latest 4Matic all-wheel drive system to keep us feeling secure. The latter can bias as much as 100 percent of power to the rear wheels via an electromechanical clutch. Shotgun shifts from the wet-clutch-equipped nine-speed automatic keep torque flowing with seemingly no interruption, the chassis ready for almost anything that comes its way. The sensation is both odd and euphoric, a mixture of big-sedan stability and sports-car spunk. It’s almost enough to make you think you’re driving a coupe.
2020 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe Specifications
|PRICE||GT 53, $115,000 (est); GT 63 $137,495; GT 63 S, $159,995|
|ENGINE||3.0L turbocharged and supercharged DOHC 24-valve inline-6, 429 hp; 4.0L twin-turbocharged DOHC 32-valve V-8, 577 or 630 hp, 590 or 664 lb-ft|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||14–22/21–28 mpg (city/hwy, est)|
|L x W x H||199.2 x 76.9 x 56.8–57.3 in|
|WEIGHT||4,400–4,600 lb (est)|
|0-60 MPH||3.1–4.4 sec|
|TOP SPEED||174–195 mph|