Get closer to the circuit than ever with GT4 racing's competitive driving experience
Tempus takes on the new Mercedes-AMG GT4 to find out more
It was inevitable. The mechanical blare fizzes around the Mercedes-AMG GT4’s pared back interior, the physicality of it intense. I’m strapped in so tightly that I’m part of the car, the pistol-grip steering wheel directly in front, my left foot pinned to the floor on the clutch. I raise it, gingerly, not giving it enough revs. And stall. A rookie mistake, and one I knew I’d make.
The pitlane is at Paul Ricard, France, the car, a Mercedes-AMG GT4. If you’re not au fait with racing categories then GT4 is the newest, most competitive one out there. The race cars are closely related to their road car alternatives, which here is the Mercedes-AMG GT R. They’re less powerful which, according to the FIA’s balance of performance formula, means all cars should be equally competitive.
There’s plenty of competition, too, with manufacturers lining up to provide cars. This means we’re seeing grids of Audis, Aston Martins, BMWs, Corvettes, Ginettas, Maseratis, McLarens, Porsches and more in the growing category.
A season in the Mercedes-AMG will cost you roughly €300,000 (£260,000), or, about half the cost of buying a Mercedes-AMG GT R – or half a season in GT3. You won’t own the car but it’ll turn up with a team to run it over a full season of races, which you’ll share each a professional driver. Someone like Thomas Jäger, Mercedes-AMG’s own driver who helped develop the car. >>
Jäger’s goal was to make it as easy for the amateur, or ‘gentleman racers’, to drive as possible – not so easy that you’ll not need some skills, though enough to allow mere mortals to drive it. People like me. I recover that early mistake, stabbing the starter button, giving the 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine more revs and slipping the clutch a bit more leaving the pits. After doing so, that clutch pedal is redundant, the gears blown up and down the box via pneumatically actuated paddles – the physicality of the GT4 incredible. Forget what you’ve ever experienced in super and sports cars, racing cars are next-level stuff – they engage and enthral like nothing else.
It isn’t the outright speed, or even the acceleration, that makes the GT4 so captivating. Indeed, many fast road cars accelerate with more alacrity. It’s the immediacy that defines the vehicle. Turn the steering wheel and the nose turns in so faithfully as to make any road car feel mute, the gearshift is similarly quick, and the brakes... put it this way, you’ll be glad of the six- point harness strapping you tightly into the chair.
I do 10 laps of Paul Ricard which, in Jäger’s words, is “very demanding and very technical.” Even so, the GT4 is an absolute joy. The sensations are rich, the speed which it carries though the corners incredible – the GT4 a properly engineered and developed racer that’ll be competitive straight out of the box.If you have the budget, it’s a far more appealing way of spending it than on another supercar for your garage, a new boat, timepiece or artwork. Indeed, if you spend your money on one indulgence this year, make it a race car, and if you need someone to drive it when you can’t, then do give me a call.