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First Look: Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster

Unveiled for Paris in Two Flavors

It's Christmas come early for fans of Mercedes-AMG's hottest sports car, as not one, but two versions of the topless AMG GT will grace the stage at this year's Paris auto show. The opening act is the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster, which replaces the coupe's elegant roofline with a fabric soft top and wind-in-your-face sensations. Surprising as it is enticing, the AMG GT C Roadster appears to be a track-slaying beast with a taste for frightening performance, courtesy of many pieces cribbed from the very fast and very green Mercedes-AMG GT R.

Topless Will Turn Heads

All versions of the Mercedes-AMG Roadster come with a fabric soft top (in a choice of red, black, or beige), as well as additional supports for added rigidity. The car's side skirts are now thicker and feature more chambers, the dashboard support is brace against the windshield, and there's a strut tower brace put in place behind the soft top to help reinforce the rear axle. The roll-over protection system also gets its own cross-member behind the seats for additional support. All this adds some weight, so AMG for the first time is using sheet molding compound with carbon fiber for the trunklid to help slim down.

Trickling down from the wild-looking AMG GT R is the flashy vertical-bar grille, which will be adorn both versions of the GT Roadster along with a modified front-bumper design. The new front end incorporates a busier and more aggressive look for the front air intakes, more closely emulating the AMG GT R. Mercedes will also offer 19- or 20-inch AMG wheels with a pair of five-spoke designs.

AMG GT R Giveth, and GT C Receiveth

While the standard Mercdes-AMG GT Roadster makes do with the 469 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, up from 456 hp in AMG GT coupe, the GT C cranks the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 to a hearty 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. For reference, that's 47 more horses than the current GT S coupe and just 27 shy of the Alpha-dog AMG GT R. The new GT C Roadster will sprint from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 196 mph. For the standard Roadster, it's 3.9 seconds to 60 and a top speed of 188 mph.

That power is still managed courtesy of a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for both models, but Mercedes tinkered with the setup for the GT C. The gearbox has been switched into a transaxle arrangement at the rear axle to cope with the extra muscle, the first gear ratio is higher while seventh gear and final drive ratios are lower.

The GT C is poised to tackle the Nurburgring thanks to a standard AMG Ride Control adaptive and adjustable damping system, as well as all of the wild and fantastic active aerodynamic and rear-wheel steering technologies from the AMG GT R. It uses the same electric-motor-driven vertical louvers behind the front fascia, which can open during high-performance driving to provide necessary cooling and reduce drag. Rear-axle steering is standard on the GT C too, helping out with both everyday driving and high-speed  handling. For even more stability and grip at the limit, the GT C also gets a electronically controlled locking differential for the rear axle. The standard Roadster gets a mechanical diff.

You'll also notice that in order to accommodate all of these technological blessings, the Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster needed to match the GT R's wider rear end. The car's rear is 2.25 inches wider than the standard Roadster, allowing for the bigger wheels and bigger rear air vents.

Larger front brakes are also on tap for the GT C, measuring 15.4 inches versus 14.2 in the standard Roadster. The AMG Performance Exhaust System comes with GT C, although you can still rattle some cages with it as an option on the regular Roadster.

A Bit of Spice Inside

Cabin accoutrement for the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster is mostly business as usual in standard fitment, although there are a handful of snazzy options that come gratis with the price of a GT C. Included are a new light-colored Nappa leather package, as well as AMG's performance steering wheel clad in Nappa leather and Dinamica microfiber. "Airscarf" neck-heating like we've seen on the SLC and SL is included, but now you can also get it on the optional AMG Performance seats.

One Mercedes Convertible to Rule Them All

The addition of two new Roadsters to the AMG family certainly helps widen the appeal of the AMG GT, and now more than ever it leaves us wondering where this leaves the aging, yet still iconic SL. We'll know more in a few weeks when these two topless monsters officially break cover at the 2016 Paris auto show.