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2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe Test: a Glorious Celebration of Speed Made Easy

Going fast is fun, and doing so with such fine attention to detail is impressive.

LOS ANGELES—There are special birthdays, and there are birthdays that entail a day of free reign in a 2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS performance SUV bookended with a Brilliant Blue Magno 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe. Such was the celebration of my latest milestone, a day made especially memorable thanks to a pair of twin-turbo V-8 performance vehicles. (And also thanks to a wagyu steak dinner arranged by my fiancé. I better not neglect to mention that.)

But even better than the fine dining was the fact Mercedes-AMG lent us a perfectly specified GT C. I totally dug the $3,950 coat of stunning matte blue paint; it contrasted beautifully with the $8,950 AMG ceramic-composite brakes beneath the offset 19-inch front/20-inch rear, split 10-spoke AMG wheels. In any parking lot, even when visiting Los Angeles' most affluent pockets, I felt like an eyeball magnet as onlookers took in the GT C Coupe's details. Who could blame them? As equipped, this 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe test car looked every bit as spectacular as it was to drive.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe Test: Fahrvergnügen, but Make it AMG

With its GT C, Mercedes-AMG offers a perfect balance between sheer brutality and scintillating refinement. It's the Goldilocks of the brand's performance coupe lineup, providing just enough livability to avoid draining its passengers during daily commutes, and countering any sense of tedium with injections of adrenaline anytime the throttle pedal hits the floor.

A long nose protrudes ahead of the driver, and you're forgiven if delusional thoughts like, "I'm Stirling Moss," or, "I could handle myself on the Mille Miglia" intrude when you're behind the wheel. The GT C's front-mid-engine layout helps the car to turn-in nimbly, and the steering feels laser-accurate as the wheel glides back and forth around its axis in the driver's hands. Even at low speeds, it feels special to use the $300 AMG Performance microsuede steering wheel to pick your way through traffic, as though you're at the helm of a majestic vessel at sea.

Dial up the drive mode to Sport+, and the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe's attitude changes from that of a sporty tourer to one of a road racer. Tapping the throttle snaps the transmission to attention, waking up the engine with the correct gear to summon maximum power from the twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 engine. Getting on the gas brings forth a massive 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to sticky, optional summer performance tires, a $600 extra, I never felt wanting for grip, regardless of whether I was launching away from a stop light or when hanging on through corners.

The 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe blasts from a standstill with whip-crack immediacy, and the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission handles subsequent gear changes with precision. Switch to manual shift mode and get rewarded by growly AMG exhaust noises as the revs climb. Rather than having the uplifting song of an Italian engine or the crackling shriek of an American V-8, the Mercedes-AMG engine rumbles with stout indifference, letting the speed it generates speak for itself.

The apparent ease of use overall is due in part to standard rear-wheel steering, which helps to make the car feel like it is pivoting around its engine's mass. Meanwhile, the electronically adjustable adaptive suspension can provide damping that is almost touring-car comfortable. In the stiffest suspension setting, body control becomes unflappable but it's still incredibly easy to read the chassis' behavior. The ceramic brakes gave up nothing, offering tremendous stopping power. Testing my way through switchbacks as I climbed the hills between Malibu and the San Fernando valley, I fell into rhythmic union with the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe, leaving me feeling both thrilled and perplexed at how easy it was to traverse these back roads at such a pace while still feeling so confident the entire time.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe Test: Driver-Focused Interior 

Driver and passenger are relegated to separate silos as the massive transmission tunnel rises higher than usual in the center of the cabin. In our test car, the interior featured fine materials like aluminum, microsuede leather, and glossy carbon-fiber trim ($2,850). Even the in-car crossbar was made of carbon fiber, for an extra $1,600. While the interior design is undeniably cool, it also feels cold in the same way as a modernist home with stark, minimalistic appointments. While it's not my favorite interior due to the cave-like compartments for both occupants, but the GT C's cabin stands out from other performance coupes on the market with its purposeful design.

As desolate as the cabin felt at times, an optional Burmester high-end audio system ($4,500) provided plenty of warmth with fantastic sound quality that had no trouble countering the somewhat pervasive road noise. The more time I spent inside the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C's cockpit, the more I came to appreciate its finer details. The interior came trimmed with optional Dinamica-brand microsuede leather surfaces, matched with contrasting silver stitching ($1,200). Given the beautiful paint job as well, I was grateful to have some technological shielding in traffic, thanks to the optional active-safety systems included on our test car ($2,250).

2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe Test: A Standout in a League of Standouts

Mercedes-AMG succeeds here mostly by developing a car that is so focused on driving pleasure while giving up little as far as daily usage goes. Whenever the GT C Coupe sat in my apartment parking spot, I could feel the super sports car beckoning to me, as though I had an obligation to hop behind the while and explore new back roads. Of all the cars in the Mercedes-AMG lineup, this is the exact model on which I'd spend my own imagery cash.

At a starting price of $151,895, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe faces tough competition. As my Automobile colleague Conner Golden pointed out in his review of the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster, the $150,000-$190,000 sports-car segment is stuffed full of excellent choices like the Audi R8, Porsche 911, and Acura NSX. Our 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe test car, optioned to $179,295, falls at the higher end of this price range but also offers so much by way of sights, sounds, and visceral experience. If I close my eyes, I can still imagine the exact way the Mercedes-AMG GT C changes direction through corners, sprints off of the line, and feels as it flies through a hairpin. If that doesn't make for a special car, I don't know what does. It certainly made for a special birthday.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe Highlights

  • Addicting drivetrain
  • Nimble and responsive handling
  • Driver-focused interior
  • Wicked-quick 0-60-mph time
  • Great materials, fit, and finish
2020 Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $151,895/$179,95 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 4.0L DOHC 32-valve V-8/550 hp @ 5,750-6,750 rpm, 502 lb-ft @ 2,100-5,500 rpm rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE 15/21 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 179.7 x 81.7 x 50.7 in
WHEELBASE 103.5 in
WEIGHT 3,792 lb
0-60 MPH 3.6 sec
TOP SPEED 197 mph