Althleisure wear hits the road with the AMG GT

AMG GT, the perfect athleisure wear for the road

IT’S been a thing for a while now for women to try to look both athletic and effortlessly elegant at the same time, hence the booming popularity of athleisure wear. If this is a trend you buy into then, to do things properly, your image should begin with the car you’re getting in and out of - with style and grace, of course. In which case, that car should exude those qualities as well, and the Mercedes-AMG GT has all of them and so much more. 

'This car is certainly muscular which works for us because, as female form goes, strong is the new skinny.'

The AMG GT range is relatively new to market - its first iteration was rolled out in 2015 - and there aren’t many of them around so they get bonus points for their relative exclusivity, too. On the road, the Grand Tourer has eye-catching presence, combining race-car styling with day-to-day usability. Its upright diamond radiator grill is a cheeky grin in the low, wide and menacing front-end. Down the sides, sweeping curves enhance its belt line and sidewalls, flowing dynamically to the fastback rear-end. 

These are hand-built cars and this latest refresh could be considered almost brutish. It’s certainly muscular, which works for us because, as female form goes, strong is the new skinny. And the fact you can take the top off makes this a car to play in across the seasons.

Madam Wheels didn’t get much of an opportunity to get the roadster out in its convertible state in the three days in which we got to road test it on account of the driving rain - and hail - that persisted. But the conditions provided plenty of opportunity to get a sense of what a rear-wheel-drive twin-turbo V8 car can do when you punch it. For the many women more used to an all-wheel-drive vehicle, these different dynamics could be quite confronting. Rest assured, though, there are few cars on the road with the safety features Mercedes-Benz is famous for, and they’re all on board here.

Getting out of trouble is made easier with The GT’s fast and accurate steering, the weight of which can be adjusted depending on the drive mode in use. The GT comes with the AMG Drive Select system as standard, offering three pre-set drive modes - Comfort, Sport and Sport+ (or Race) - as well as an Individual setting. They automatically tune things like the throttle response (which is awesome), gear shifts (between seven speeds) and suspension hardness. On that last point, things can get pretty uncomfortable on rough surfaces where the GT’s adaptive dampers in the Sport modes present every bump and ridge with force into the cockpit. Road noise can get loud, too, which could, in part, be explained by the fact we’re in a soft-top here. The triple-layer “z-fold” fabric roof offers substantial protection from the elements, however, and can be remotely lowered in 11 seconds even while in motion at speeds up to 50km/h.

This is a car that piques the curiosity in those even remotely car-centric and when the top is off, it’s more of a draw. The Madam Wheels variant was a particularly good-looking creature, its Brilliant Blue metallic paintwork pairing to terrific effect with the upgraded Macchiato Beige and Black Nappa leather used in the interior (a $9900 option). AMG Sports seats are standard with the GT, but my car had AMG Performance seats ($3900) which were also climatised ($2450) and had an AirScarf to cool or warm the neck ($1700). The upgrade enabled the side bolstered to be adjusted for improved lateral support and the contoured seat shape was surprising comfortable for a sports car. In the back, the boot has space for only for 165 litres, including a tyre-fit repair kit. There is no spare tyre, though, so you’d need to pack light and avoid flats.

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to ratchet up the speed without even noticing in this car - one minute you’re comfortably within the limit, and within seconds you’re 20km/h over. Which is why I was grateful to have this variant’s extra feature of Distance Pilot Distronic - basically adaptive cruise control - which set the speed and distance to the car ahead. That’s an option well worth the $1900 price. I wasn’t a fan of the gear shifter, though. In the three days I had the car, I still failed to master getting to Reverse easily, which is tricky when you’re doing a three-point turn and speed and agility are important.

Visibility from low in the car is pretty good, although the prominent bonnet can interfere with the sight line. Vision starts being seriously impaired if you windscreen- or dash-mount your phone, so it’s probably best left in the handbag. I also found the two side mirrors - while necessarily large given the restricted view through the narrow rear window - got in the way particularly when cornering and trying to avoid gutters. You might have to use your phone for a navigation app. I still find the nav system in Mercs tricky and infotainment menus less than intuitive. There’s no Apple CarPlay in this car, either. 

But it looks good thanks to that bonnet which encompasses more than a third of the car’s total 4.5m length. It’s all the better for it and unique to anything else out there, making it the perfect showcase for Mercedes-Benz’s global image. If you’re a car nut you’d certainly enjoy driving it. It’s a monster. Put on the paparazzi-proof sunglasses, turn up the motivational music, drop the top and hit the road. It smiles loud, and you’ll smile back.

Madam Wheels Verdict

Madam Wheels Worthy? This is a fun car that looks and feels every bit an AMG with its stand-out presence and serious capabilities under the bonnet. Love the way it looks and love the way it drives. 

Buy: If you want to look as good as you feel in the latest set of tights and sports top from 2XU, P.E. Nation, Jaggad, Nimble Activewear, Adidas by Stella McCartney … the list is endless these day.

Avoid: There’s a surprising amount of room in the cockpit of this car but very tall people might find themselves close to the roof, even with the seats lowered.

Likes: The muscular lines and leering grin up front; how responsive the steering is, the  comfortable AMG Performance seats.

Dislikes: The way the Louboutin heels mark up the plastic sides of the doors on exit. Thank God for Armor All!

Bottom line: $A283,711 after government taxes but before on-road costs. Madam Wheels Variant $314,361 with optional extras.