The AMG GT R | The [understated] Beast From The Green Hell


From its head-turning, Gullwing honoring looks to its thundering V-8 soundtrack, the AMG GT R simply begs to be seen and heard by everyone within a square mile of this streetable Silver Arrow. Yet, to the general public and even many enthusiasts, this vehicle is perceived as an ostentatious boulevard cruiser with the type of interior that makes discerning car buyers weepy and the type of panache that a brand with the heritage of Mercedes-Benz is worthy of. So, is this a track car or a sports car with track attacking dreams?


Here’s the thing. See those three letters on the front? That’s right, this is an AMG model. Not just any AMG model, mind you, but an AMG that was blessed by the championship-winning legends at Mercedes-Benz and does race duty in one of the most demanding roles for any streetcar. The AMG label is applied to a huge variety of vehicles and that can dilute the power of the brand but make no mistake, this AMG is very, very different. 


We’re going to cover the AMG GT R and tell you more about why this incredible vehicle deserves a place on the podium with the greats:


  • Development of the AMG GT and GT R variants 
  • Race Bred Technology
  • The Ultimate Track Car?


Ready to dive into what makes the AMG GT R an incredible machine? We sure are. Let’s do it! 

Development of the AMG GT and GT R variants 

The AMG GT R is wholly based on the Mercedes – Benz AMG GT that made its debut in 2015. From the beginning of its development, the AMG GT was designed to be a vehicle that could be driven on a daily basis but also possessed a second personality that was, let’s just say, aggressive


Looks-wise, there’s no denying the heritage that this beast is trying to bring back to life. The massive bonnet, narrow windscreen, and sculpted lines all scream “Gullwing” and none of us are complaining here because this vehicle is stunning, especially in person. Even the “Green Hell Magno” paint job speaks to the goal of this track-focused behemoth. 


A key part of the development of this track-focused machine was ensuring that the AMG GT R was a showcase for motorsports technology. Mercedes-Benz and AMG Petronas Motorsport have set the motoring world on fire with a staggering, seven consecutive Constructors Championships. What better way to begin this dynasty than to also introduce a car that would go on to define the brand on the street? Mercedes – Benz set out to design a vehicle that could fill a role that is typically reserved for only the finest automobiles in the world: serving as THE safety car for Formula 1. 


The F1 safety car needs to be fast enough so that the fastest vehicles in the world keep enough heat in their tires to stay competitive during safety car activation at Formula 1 events. In 2015, the AMG GT S variant of the GT began duty as a safety car for Formula 1. However, once Mercedes Benz took the wraps off its AMG GT R model in 2017, the switch was an easy one and Formula 1 has been using the AMG GT R ever since. 

So how does the AMG GT R keep pace with the fastest cars in the world?

Race Bred Technology

Here’s where the story of the AMG GT R really starts to show its teeth. If you’re going to call yourself a track car, you better have the cred to back it up. To accomplish this, Mercedes – Benz drew upon their experience at the race track to bring unique elements to the GT R that allowed it to go harder and faster without the addition of massive horsepower or a complicated all-wheel-drive system.


Much like the Formula 1 cars that took Mercedes-Benz to seven constructor titles, the AMG GT R gets the job done with a combination of classic, race-proven dynamics, and race-bred technology. 

Rear Wheel Drive


There’s no tricky, grippy, all-wheel-drive system here folks. No, the AMG GT R is a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, much like the Formula 1 cars that tear up racecourses around the world. Sticking with rear-wheel-drive allows the engineers at Mercedes-Benz to design in near-perfect weight balance (47.3% front to 52.7% rear) while still allowing enough grit and steering feel at the limit to boost the efforts of the world’s best drivers. It also saves considerable weight vs. elaborate all-wheel-drive systems. 

Twin-Turbocharged V-8


Under that long hood, we have a bi-turbo, 4.0L V8 putting out a stout 577 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque, which is 75 horsepower more than the GT S version of this same engine. This hand-built, aluminum, and composite engine uses a “Hot V” configuration that allows for more efficient routing of exhaust gas that gives the GT R near-instantaneous turbo response. It also happens to possess a thundering, bellowing V8 soundtrack that makes any enthusiast weak in the knees. 


Dual Clutch Transmission 

This masterpiece of torque and horsepower is mated to a quick-shifting, 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. What makes this dual-clutch setup so incredible is the ability to be serene and comfortable on the street, while still being brutal on the track. Yes, this transmission possesses a truly devilish side when placed into one of the AMG GT R’s selectable modes which range from mild and street-friendly, to the soul-crushing, spleen punching shifts in “RACE” mode. Ratios in the GT R are also shortened and adjusted for better usage on the track. 


Under the skin, Mercedes Benz designers have designed a spaceframe with positively staggering amounts of high-strength carbon fiber. It’s found in the roof, front wing, and even the torque tube between the transmission and the engine. The engineers at AMG have even incorporated a carbon-fiber tunnel cross to increase structural rigidity! Aluminum and other lightweight components like titanium are also extensively used throughout the body to achieve a lightweight but strong structure. 


How do Formula 1 cars scream around the track at such insane speeds? The answers lie in the aerodynamics of those unique vehicles and here the AMG GT R draws a direct line to its racing brethren. At speeds above 50 MPH, while in “RACE”  the GT R extends out a carbon-fiber wing from behind the front splitter that produces a “venturi tunnel” effect that sucks the GT R to the road by routing air along the rear diffusers. This combines with a front end splitter and a massive, fully adjustable rear – wing to ensure that this hellacious machine is stuck to the ground no matter what the speed. 

Nine Position Traction Control

Here’s another bit of technology that comes right from the AMG GT3 car. The AMG Traction Control system allows drivers to pre-determine the slip on the driven axle in nine different levels, fully independent of the Electronic Stability Control. This computer-controlled system is nearly anticipatory in nature and seeks to engage the driver on a level typically reserved for race cars. The bright yellow dial in the middle of the console controls your destiny and allows you to dial everything from safety in the wet to tail sliding mania. 

Suspension and Handling

The suspension of the AMG GT R has been optimized for track use by utilizing a combination of forged suspension components and trick electronic adjustments. A double-wishbone setup, with a limited-slip differential form the foundation of the AMG GT Rs handling prowess. Dialing it up a notch, one of the most incredible additions here is “Rear Wheel Steering” which turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the front wheels at speeds under 62 MPH. This creates a virtual shortening of the wheelbase and makes this monster incredibly agile and controllable at the limit.  Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires put all this aero and suspension technology right to the ground.

The Ultimate Track Car?

So, what does this all add up to? How about one hell of a track car! Not only is the GT R an amazing tool around the track, but it also puts the power of 7 Formula 1 championships into something that everyone from a professional driver to an avid enthusiast can enjoy on the track or road with ease. 


Mercedes – Benz has named the AMG GT R the “The Beast From The Green Hell” because this vehicle was developed, honed, and finessed right at the North Loop of the infamous Nürburgring. They even created a special color called “Green Hell Magno” specifically to commemorate and remind drivers where this vehicle was developed. 


In 2016, Christian Gebhardt put the AMG GT R through the famous ‘Ring with a staggering time of 7:10.92. This puts the AMG GT R in the top 15 and beats out other monsters like the Porsche GT3 and the Dodge Viper ACR. In fact, at the time, there was no 911 that even came close to the AMG GT R lap time! Critically, the AMG GT R does with the least amount of horsepower to any other vehicle (save for track-only machines like the Radical), making its lap time even more incredible. 


The automotive press agrees! Car and Driver noted that the AMG GT R came within a few tenths of setting the lap record during their annual “Lightning Lap” competition and easily bested the Porsche 911 Turbo S and GT3. Ollie Marriage of Top Gear says “You can play with the balance through the middle of the corner and the GT R will be alert and responsive, then – depending on where you’ve got the traction control wound to – you can alter your angle of attack at the exit.”


Sure, it’s a luxurious Mercedes – Benz with incredible seats and a Burmester stereo but it’s also a track-focused machine that takes down sports car titans like the Porsche 911 with ease. We’d say that’s one incredible car and one that deserves your attention at the track.