Mercedes-Benz has been building supercars for over 50 years. The German brand created the world’s first, the Mercedes 300SL in 1955, seventy years after Karl Benz is credited with inventing the automobile. Famous for its Gullwing doors that open up instead of out, the race car for the street was the fastest thing on wheels during the age of bobby socks and poodle skirts, and restored 300SLs now sell for north of a million dollars.
Well, Mercedes is still at this supercar thing. Its latest is the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster, which will be introduced later this year. Built in Germany, the two-seat convertible will be the newest version to join the AMG GT supercar lineup of coupes and convertibles, which have been on the market since 2015. It will also be the second most powerful version of the GT Roadster.
1. It was developed solely by AMG.
AMG is Mercedes’ in house tuner or hot rod shop. It competes with BMW’s M division, known for cars like the M3 and M5. Since the 1970s, AMG’s engineers have been reengineering Mercedes mainstream models into some of the fastest cars on the road, adding sport-tuned suspensions, bigger brakes and of course horsepower.
In 2010 AMG began developing its own models and introduced the SLS AMG, a two-seat supercar with a massive V8 engine and Gullwing doors just like the 1955 300SL. It was a hit and five years later its successor, the Mercedes-AMG GT debuted. Smaller, lighter and less expensive than the SLS, the turbocharged AMG GT was no less potent and became an immediate rival to the Porsche 911 Turbo, the Audi R8 and the BMW i8.
2. The supercar now comes in twelve flavors.
With the unveiling of the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster, the AMG GT lineup of sports cars now includes twelve versions of the front-engine supercar. By the end of this year Mercedes will offer four two-door Coupes, three Roadsters and two customer sports racing cars, as well as three four-door Coupes, which is a high-performance sedan version of the sports car that debuted earlier this year. It will compete with the Porsche Panamera Turbo models.
The ever growing line up starts with the GT Coupe, which costs about $113,000 and packs a 469 hp version of the Biturbo 4.0 liter V8. Another twenty grand or so gets you the GT S Coupe with 515 hp, and $145,000 will buy you the GT C with 550 hp. The top dog is the $157,000 GT R with 575 hp.
There is no GT R Roadster model, but the GT, the GT C and now the GT S are offered with the power retractable soft top. Mercedes says pricing will be announced closer to launch, but other roadster models cost about $12,000 more than their corresponding coupe so we expect the new GT S Roadster to start around $144,500.
3. It’s packing a handcrafted turbocharged V8.
Every AMG model, even the $50,000 AMG CLA 45, gets a handcrafted turbocharged engine. Each one is built by a single technician from beginning to end. And that technician’s signature is placed atop that engine before it is installed in the vehicle.
Under its long aluminum hood, the new 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster is powered by the same 515 hp version of the all-aluminum 4.0-liter biturbo V8 used in the AMG GT S Coupe. The engine puts out 494 lb-ft of torque and relines at 7,000 rpm. The sports car also gets a seven-speed dual clutch transmission with paddle shifters. A manual transmission will not be offered.
Mercedes says the combination will get the convertible from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds and to a top speed of 192 mph. That’s the same performance as the GT S Coupe. The more powerful AMG GT C Roadster can hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. Unfortunately for Mercedes the Porsche 911 Turbo S will blow their doors off. The 580 hp Porsche hits 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds and can touch 205 mph.
4. It’s not available with all-wheel drive.
Like the other AMG GT models, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster uses a lightweight aluminum spaceframe, a locking rear differential, massive brakes, huge 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels and a fully independent sport suspension with aluminum components. And like the other AMG GT models, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster will be rear-wheel drive.
That’s significant. Most other AMG models have gone to all-wheel drive for improved traction, especially in wet or snowy weather. All-wheel drive is also now standard on many of the AMG’s competitors including the Porsche 911 Turbo, Audi R8, the BMW i8 and the Acura NSX. And buyers in the northeast and other cold climates have made it clear to manufacturers that they want that technology and they’ll pay for it.
The EPA rates the standard GT S Coupe at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg on the highway, while we expect the Roadster to be rated 16 mpg city and 21 mpg on highway due to the less favorable aerodynamics of the convertible. These are good numbers for the supercar class. Even the hybrid powered Acura NSX is rated 21 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
5. It’s not the most powerful or most expensive Mercedes convertible.
With a supercar label, over 500 hp, and a price tags over $140,000 it’s easy to assume that the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster and the GT C Roadsters will be the most powerful and most expensive Mercedes convertibles available. Nope. Not even close.
Mercedes actually sells several droptops with more power and more price, starting with the AMG SL63, which is stacked with 577 hp and a base price of over $152,000. Then there’s the AMG SL 65. It’s powered by a 621 hp twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12 and starts around $222,000.
But the SL is old school. It’s graying around the temples, just like the majority of its owners. Today’s ballers, billionaires, and Youtube stars prefer the larger four-seat S Class Cabriolet. AMG offers two, the $179,000 S 63 with 603 hp and the 621 hp, $251,000 S 65.