Racing against the clock with the Mercedes-AMG GT R PRO

Even before the new GT R PRO from Mercedes-Benz AMG celebrated its official world premiere, I was granted the pleasure of putting it through its paces on the Nürburgring.

Sharp lines, sophisticated aerodynamics, an even more finely tuned chassis and, last but not least, a really fast lap time — all of these attributes made this sports car a real thrill for me. But let’s take one step at a time.

“The Green Hell” — not for the faint of heart

If you want to find out what a sports car is really capable of, there’s no better place to do that than the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring. This is the world’s longest race course, and in my opinion it’s also the most challenging one. It’s almost legendary. It’s got fast and slow curves. Curves into which you drive blind over crests, dangerous bumps — the Nürburgring presents you with every imaginable tough challenge. Its nickname, “The Green Hell,” couldn’t be more fitting.

At some points the tires even lose contact with the ground, and for a short moment you’re flying. Besides, the course consists of several different types of asphalt, because individual sections have been renewed over the years. This can mean some nasty surprises, especially when it rains. One moment your tires and the road surface may still have a reassuringly high grip level, but in the very next moment you may completely lose your hold on the road. Even after you’ve driven thousands of laps, the course remains extremely demanding — it’s simply fascinating.

Pleasant memories

That’s why it felt so good when I won the 24-hour race in “The Green Hell” in 2016. It was one of the supreme moments of my career in motor sports. AMG even took the first four places in that race — so it was a fantastic success for the whole company. That’s why I have only positive memories in connection with the Nürburgring. Approaching the Nordschleife is always a very special experience for me.

Test drives and timekeeping — are they just “business as usual” for a professional race car driver? No, not at all!

For a professional driver, testing his limits again and again is not a novelty. But if you’re driving a new model and you want to really show how well it handles, you’re facing a very special kind of challenge. I’ve already driven hundreds of laps in the AMG GT3 — the two of us know each other well. But with the GT R PRO it’s not quite the same thing, so you keep asking yourself “How far can I go?” again and again. It’s not simply a matter of sitting down in the cockpit and casually thinking, “Okay, car, show me what you can do.”

That’s because you can’t relax when you’re on the edge — and certainly not in “The Green Hell.” You shouldn’t be afraid of the drive, or of the Nordschleife itself. But you do have to treat it with respect. After you’ve completed a fast lap, you get an incredibly great feeling.

Absolutely not a one-man show

Some people think that to clock a quick lap time, all you need is an experienced driver and a sports car like the GT R PRO. Wrong! Just like in a race, everything has to come together perfectly. The wheels, the air pressure, the technical features of the car itself — you have to have an absolutely optimal setup, and you can get that only through teamwork. The conditions of the track also play an important role.

The asphalt was still wet in some places because of the fog, and we were the first ones on the race course. As a result, we first had to cooperatively “drive the road dry” in some parts of the course. If we hadn’t done that, a good lap time wouldn’t even have been possible. All of this goes to show that every member of the team contributed to this endeavor — during the preparations and at the circuit.

The driver and the car — a question of trust

When you’re in “The Green Hell,” you have to be able to trust your car one hundred percent. And you can absolutely do that with the GT R PRO. I was really surprised — it actually gives you even more safety than the GT R. You can really feel that the aerodynamics have been further improved. For example, when you’re approaching the Schwedenkreuz section, you drive over the crest at 270 km/h. Through the increased contact pressure, the car practically sticks to the asphalt. The following left-hand curve is tricky — it too takes you over a crest and slightly slopes outward. Thanks to the fine-tuned aerodynamics, you can take the curves at almost 220 km/h.

The great advantage of that is that you’re more willing to take the car to its limits. Besides, the resulting sporty and aggressive look — with the somewhat larger splitter, the flics, and the racecar louvers on the fenders — is really impressive!

The more finely harmonized chassis also contributes to the incredibly dynamic handling. When you’re driving across the bumps to the Fuchsröhre section, the GT R PRO stays even more stable. It’s really remarkable to see what possibilities are opened up by individual specifications. I could really feel that progress had been made — even though on that day the Nordschleife was not offering optimal conditions.

A car that’s suitable for daily use but also has the handling of a race car? The GT R PRO makes it possible.

In the Blancpain GT Series, I sit behind the wheel of a AMG GT3. In the past, I’ve also gathered experience with the AMG GT4. And I have to admit that when I compare the cornering speeds of these two vehicles, which have been exclusively developed for racing and have not been approved for road use, with the cornering speeds of the GT R PRO, they’re not so very different.

In this regard we can already be very proud of the GT R. But the GT R PRO goes one step further — it is even more similar to the two race cars. In my opinion, it’s definitely the AMG that follows most closely on the heels of the GT3 and the GT4.

Fast laps in “The Green Hell” — not only for professionals

7.04 min was the lap time of the new GT R PRO on this fall day on the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring. That’s seven seconds less than the best lap of the GT R to date! And best of all, in order to drive the GT R PRO on the race course, you don’t necessarily have to have a professional race car driver sitting at the wheel. If you buy a car that can trim a few seconds off the record only in theory, you’re not benefiting from its speed at all.

The car’s owner must be able to exploit its potential as easily as possible. And our race cars have also been developed in line with this philosophy. By now I’ve driven quite a few cars on the Nordschleife. That’s why I can say I’m absolutely convinced that the GT R PRO is the model that can be taken into the borderline region most easily. Our engineers have really done a good job on it. The day I spent in “The Green Hell” was simply a lot of fun! And I’m also rather proud of the fact that I was able to find out what the GT R PRO can do a few weeks before its world premiere.

Mercedes-AMG GT R PRO (2018), selenitgray magno, Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 12,4 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 284 g/km //

Would you like to know more about the new AMG GT R PRO? Here you get further information and product details:

Closer to motor sports than ever before

The new Mercedes-AMG GT R PRO celebrated its world premiere at the Los Angeles Motor Show. Many details of this high-performance sports car have been modified in order to add even more racetrack performance. The optimized power/weight ratio, the new chassis, the fine-tuned aerodynamics with even higher total downforce, lightweight bucket seats, and lightweight wheels all enhance the model’s driving dynamics and trim down its lap times on the race track. Experience gained from the AMG GT3 and AMG GT4 race cars has flowed into the development process.

Mercedes-AMG GT R PRO (2018), selenitgray magno, Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 12,4 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 284 g/km //

The AMG GT R PRO not only drives like a race car — it also looks like one. The standard Carbon Package I with a front splitter, fins on the fenders, trim strips on the side skirts, diffusers in high-quality processed visible carbon, and the newly designed carbon fiber roof, which is lowered in the middle, all emphasize the close relationship with motor sports.

Mercedes-AMG GT R PRO (2018), selenitgrau magno, Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 12,4 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 284 g/km //

Mercedes-AMG GT R PRO (2018), selenitgrey magno, Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 12,4 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 284 g/km //

The new GT family

The updated Mercedes-AMG GT series was also presented to the global public for the first time. In addition to the updates in the exterior, the 2-door AMG GT coupes and roadsters now come with the integrated vehicle dynamics control system AMG DYNAMIC for even more agility, the new AMG Performance steering wheel, a center console with the innovative display buttons from the AMG GT 4-door coupe (Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 11,3-9,4 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 257-215 g/km), and a fully digital instrument display with the exclusive AMG “Supersport” display style in the instrument cluster.

Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster (2018), Brilliant blue, Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 12,5 l/100 km, CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 284 g/km //

The new light signature of the high-performance LED headlamps has some parallels with those of the AMG GT 4-door coupé, thus strengthening the AMG GT family connection. In the view from the back, the outstanding feature is the new look of the rear apron, whose sporty black diffuser insert was redesigned for the AMG GT, the AMG GT S, and the AMG GT C. At the same time, the look of the tailpipe baffles was reworked and adapted to the design of the AMG GT 4-door coupe.

The AMG GT now has two round twin tailpipe baffles; the AMG GT S and the AMG GT C have trapeze-shaped twin tailpipe baffles. The rear design of the AMG GT R has retained its striking design, with the big tailpipe baffle centrally positioned in the rear apron with a tailpipe trim.

Get to know five models of the GT family in detail:

(figures for Roadster in brackets)
(figures for Roadster in brackets)
(values for Roadster in parentheses)
Displacement 3982 cc 3982 cc 3982 cc 3982 cc
Output 350 kW (476 hp) at 6000 rpm 384 kW (522 hp) at 6250 rpm 410 kW (557 hp) at 5750-6750 rpm 430 kW (585 hp) at 6250 rpm
Peak torque 630 Nm at 1900-5000 rpm 670 Nm at 1900-5000 rpm 680 Nm at 2100-5500 rpm 700 Nm at 2100-5500 rpm
Fuel consumption, combined 11.4 l/100 km
(11.5 l/100 km)
11.5 l/100 km

(11.5 l/100 km)

12.4 l/100 km
(12.5 l/100 km)
12.4 l/100 km
CO2 emissions, combined 261 g/km (262 g/km) 262 g/km (262 g/km) 284 g/km

(284 g/km)

284 g/km
Efficiency class G G G G
0-100 km/h
4.0 s
(4.0 s)
3.8 s
(3.8 s)
3.7 s
(3.7 s)
3.6 s
Top speed 304 km/h
(302 km/h)
310 km/h
(308 km/h)
317 km/h
(316 km/h)
318 km/h

Maro Engel is a professional race car driver for Mercedes-AMG. He drives an AMG GT 3 in the Blancpain Series, the IMSA in the U.S., and the most important 24-hour races. Today he can look back on a long and successful career in motor sports. Maro also serves as an AMG brand ambassador. He’s the perfect man for a test drive in the new sports car from Affalterbach.