First Drives

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe First Drive: Family Hauler

The Porsche Panamera better look out

The Porsche Panamera better look out

Before we get too far, I need to make one thing clear: The official name for this car is the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe. You don’t have to like it, but that’s the way it is. It has coupelike styling, it’s a four-door liftback, and when AMG was picking out the name, it went with GT 4-Door Coupe. If you’re a prescriptivist who loves getting internet-angry anytime usage evolves, you may want to stop reading now.

But if you choose to dismiss the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe based entirely on its descriptive name, you should also know you’ll be missing out. Why? For the same reason this Eastern North Carolina native happily eats Memphis-style ribs and keeps his mouth shut when someone calls grilling burgers “having a barbecue.” If it’s still good, who cares?

If you’re in the market for a four-door sports car, the GT 4-Door Coupe is very good. Especially in 63 S form. And although AMG started with the same MRA platform Mercedes uses for the E-Class, it designed and developed the car independently. The result is a car with its own distinct look even though it uses familiar Mercedes design cues.

Because of its fastback roofline, the GT 4-Door Coupe will inevitably draw comparisons to the new CLS, and in a sense, it is Mercedes’ replacement for the CLS 63. Park both cars next to each other, though, and the previously sleek CLS suddenly looks dull in comparison. Opinions will inevitably be split on whether the GT 4-Door Coupe is good-looking or not, but it’s certainly more muscular than a CLS 63 ever would have been.

Plus, the GT 4-Door Coupe has a liftback, which Automotive Law has declared automatically better than the CLS and its conventional trunk.

Inside, AMG used a familiar layout seen in most modern Mercedes cars, but the wide center console is a clear reference to the original AMG GT. As you would expect, the materials all feel incredibly high-quality, as does the fit and finish. Even better, if you’re tired of faux-suede everything and carbon-fiber trim, AMG offers several interior packages that will let you decide how luxurious or sporty you want the GT 4-Door Coupe to be. Several exterior packages are available, as well.

The rear seats are also surprisingly spacious. And no, I don’t mean usable. Unless they’re extremely tall, two full-grown adults could easily fit back there with plenty of room. Because it’s a liftback, there’s space for all your luggage, too. If you have more than three friends, though, you may want to move to Europe. That market will get a five-seat configuration not offered in the North America. You know, for all those times five people need to lap the Nurburgring in the same car.

Sure, it’s a ridiculous idea, but it’s far from the worst idea in the world. Your three rear-seat passengers might not have an abundance of shoulder room, but with the suspension in Comfort mode, the car would make the drive to the track surprisingly, well, comfortable. The suspension is stiff but not punishing.

In Sport+ or Race mode, though, the GT 4-Door Coupe becomes a more than capable track car.

The 63 S makes 630 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque from AMG’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, and you feel (and hear) every bit of it. But with the nine-speed automatic sending power to all four wheels, you can actually use that power without roasting your tires. On the other hand, if you really do want to hang the tail out and burn through tires, there’s an available drift mode for doing exactly that.

With a firmed-up suspension, rear-wheel steering, torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, active aero, and optional carbon-ceramic brakes, the GT 4-Door Coupe feels much more suited to track driving than you’d expect. It’s still a heavy car, but it handles its weight well. Unlike some other large performance cars, the GT 4-Door Coupe makes you want to go faster and push it harder. That’s not always a guarantee, even with tons of power.

If we’d gotten more time behind the wheel, the GT 4-Door Coupe’s weaknesses may have started to show. But it made a solid first impression on both the road and the track, and when it goes on sale, the Panamera’s going to have some serious competition.