It’s not often that you get access to a race track and even less often does the race track come with a set of Mercedes-AMG GT Rs and a Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro for you to sample for the day.
Better yet, the race track is the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit, and it’s sunny. There’s few ways a day like this can go wrong.
To celebrate the arrival of the limited-edition GT R Pro to Australia, Mercedes-Benz organised a track day for us to test the GT R Pro with expert tuition, along with the Mercedes-AMG A45 S, which will soon be announced with a new set of track tyres for buyers (we’ll have a review of this soon).
Limited to 750 vehicles in total around the globe, just 15 AMG GT R Pros will be coming to Australia. While Mercedes-Benz hasn’t announced a production cap for the even higher performance Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series, it’s likely they will produce more of those than the GT R Pro, with at least 25 of the GT Black Series coming to Australia next year.
With a price tag of $453,200 plus on-road costs, the GT R Pro carries a premium of $84,865 over the GT R.
That extra investment gets you a raft of lightweight race-ready components and the added allure of exclusivity.
There are six colours to pick from, with the AMG Solar Beam yellow seen here carrying a premium over the other five colours ($16,400 premium).
The Mercedes-AMG GT R is already well equipped.
The GT R Pro takes it to the next level with active engine mounts for the engine and transaxle, manually-adjustable suspension preload height and damping, a carbon torsion bar, a half roll cage, four-point racing harness, adjustable carbon rear wing, a sheer panel across the subframe for added rigidity, fixed-back carbon race seats, functional bonnet vents and a raft of additional carbon-fibre bits across the body.
On the outside you’ll find matrix LED headlights, staggered 19- and 20-inch alloy wheels (front/rear), LED tail lights, carbon-ceramic brakes (402mm rotors up front), proximity key entry and start, along with unique GT R Pro decals.
Inside the cabin it looks fairly similar to the rest of the AMG GT range, with the exception of the fixed-back carbon seats and four-point racing harness (which is joined by a regular seatbelt for compliance). A variable traction control dial is located beneath the infotainment system, while the flat-bottomed steering wheel comes with drive mode controls and fits nicely in the hands.
The cabin itself can feel a little cramped with the engine sitting quite far back and the transaxle sitting just behind the driver and front passenger seats.
But, Mercedes-AMG has ensured the seating position and visibility is absolutely on point. With the racing harness tight, all of the critical controls are within easy reach and the steering wheel can move through its full range of motion. The only part we found tricky was engaging a gear, with the gear lever set quite far back in the centre tunnel.
The heart of the Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro is a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that produces 430kW of power and 700Nm of torque.
It’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and torque is sent exclusively to the rear wheels.
Mercedes-Benz claims a 0-100km/h performance time of just 3.6 seconds using the unbuilt launch control, with a top speed of 318km/h.
Official fuel consumption comes in at 11.4 litres per 100km, with 98 RON premium unleaded fuel required as a minimum.
We’ve driven plenty of Mercedes-AMG GTs on suburban streets. They sound great, they look great and they go as hard as they sound.
But, on a race track, this vehicle is an entirely different beast. The softer edge you find on the street vanishes and it turns into a fire-breathing monster.
It’s noticeably louder than a regular Mercedes-AMG GT and while it feels as quick in a straight line, it’s through corners where the GT R Pro feels like a completely different car.
Feedback through the steering is incredibly direct and it can only be described as razor sharp. Through the first turn at Phillip Island, the fast sweeper only demands a small amount of steering input to place the car. The fast rack communicates what the chassis is doing perfectly.
As corners get tighter the front end turns in quickly and feels unflappable with an almost endless amount of grip and traction.
The sound is stupidly good. It’s loud inside the cabin with the car in Sport+ mode – it barks, pops and wails as the twin-turbocharged V8 crams as much torque as it can down the driveline.
Unless you’re overtly aggressive on the throttle, the rear end remains settled and gives you the traction you need to shoot out of a corner. If you do get greedy with the throttle it offers enough latitude with the stability control to keep things under control and within reach of the regular driver.
Traction comes in the form of 275mm wide front (19-inch wheel) and 325mm wide rear (20-inch wheel) Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres to keep things in check.
At 250km/h (the speed you’ll nudge at the end of the straight at Phillip Island) an extra 99kg of downforce is generated by the carbon wing and carbon components at the rear. At these speeds it feels rock solid, even with a strong crosswind under braking at the end of the front straight.
That extra downforce helps keep the car settled at speed and most importantly helps control braking in straight lines from high speeds.
Speaking of which, the brakes are insanely good. Yes, they are carbon ceramic, which means they are fade resistant, but brake pedal feel is consistently strong. There was never a point where the pedal went long or the brakes felt inadequate when it came to pulling the car up.
We didn’t get the chance to test the GT R Pro on the street, but with such a close focus on track performance, it’s likely the polished poise and ride comfort of the regular AMG GT may be lost slightly.
The Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro really is a special vehicle. It’s sharp, fast and loud, plus it has looks to kill.
The way it handles long straights at a fast track like Phillip Island is impressive, but more impressive is its agility through corners.
We’re incredibly excited for the arrival of the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series, especially if the GT R Pro is anything to go by.
With only 15 of the GT R Pro coming to Australia, if you see one of these on the road, tip your hat to the person that’s likely to have a ripper time the next time they find themselves at a track day.
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