In Style + Design

Test Drive: Mercedes-Benz GT C Coupe

Yes, you can chop your wood with a dainty little tomahawk, but a big old block-splitter is better, and a double-handed battle-axe  would be better again. And that’s what the Mercedes-Benz GT C Coupe is; you can drive on the road in any old car, or even a less lurid Benz, if you choose, or you can attack the tarmac beneath you with the equivalent of Thor’s hammer on wheels.

The GT C – the more potent version of Mercedes’ Porsche 911-challenging sexy, sporty coupe – certainly looks like a weapon. It’s low, angry, wide, swoopy and ever so slightly over the top from front on. But from behind, where its hips don’t lie about its squat, road-holding stance, it’s actually quite a beauty.

Climb inside, however, and things get a tiny bit weird. For a start, there’s the seating position, which seems to be less than a millimetre off the ground. The sensation that you are dunked down in the car is only exacerbated by the ear-high door sides, the high line of the dash binnacle in front of you and that enormous, bulbous and violent looking nose looming before you.

Throw in the unusually tiny windscreen and it feels like you’re actually sitting inside an F1 racing driver’s helmet, staring out that tiny gap they somehow use between their visor and all those advertising stickers.

It’s a cabin that takes some getting used to, although it does feel appropriately wealthy and shiny. The centre console, shaped like a V-shaped super-hero’s chest, is also striking, and littered with many buttons that can make this already savage car even louder, harder or more sport-focused.

Unfortunately, after jamming all that stuff in, the designers seem to have realised they forgot to leave a space for the gear-shifting stalk, so they’ve hidden it under your elbow, which is about as ergonomically handy as having your nostrils on your knee.

It’s definitely worth making yourself feel at home in here, though, as there’s some serious, hairy-handed fun to be had in the GT C, which gets a very angry twin-turbo V8 engine that makes a very large 410kW, plus 680Nm of torque.

This is more than enough German grunt to shift a car that weighs 1625kg (yet feels much heavier, because it’s just so solidly in your hands, and on the road), and you can expect to hammer your way to 100km/h in jut 3.7 seconds, and on to a top speed of 317km/h.

Putting your foot down elicits demonic barks, bangs and what sounds like cackling from the exhaust, as well as a rush of speed that sees that big snout in front of you rearing at the sky. It’s a bit like kicking a very, very fast thoroughbred horse in the guts. Only scarier.

We were invited to drive this stunning new Coupe from Melbourne to the sparkling white village of Mt Buller, where Benz has taken the idea of a “marketing activation” to a whole new level with its snazzy new Star Lodge.

Perched some 1700m above sea level, at the epicentre of Buller’s ski lifts and runs, the Star Lodge is a very Euro-looking warming hut, where skiers – and they don’t even have to be Benz owners, or customers – can take a break from the cold, soak in some spectacular views, recharge their phones and heat their chilly hands using air vents that look and feel just like the ones in the GT C.

It’s an immersive and highly clever way of getting high-country-loving types to engage with the idea of Mercedes-level luxury, and the TV screen showing sexy videos of its cars is prominently placed as well, of course.

We were more than happy to visit because the road to Buller is filed with winding, whizzing and wondrous roads, which were perfect for testing out the big Benz brawler’s handling capabilities. There’s certainly plenty of muscular feel from the steering wheel, but it might verge on being almost too heavy, too thumpingly aggressive, for some people. It’s not a car that does things by halves, and nor is it for the faint hearted.

Its clever rear-wheel steering (and rear-wheel drive) mean it can really hold on entertainingly through tight mountain hairpins, while the clever aerodynamic touches, and huge tyres, provide shedloads of grip.

On boring, straight roads, the GT C Coupe is a bit noisy, a bit twitchy, and a bit like hard work, but all that is instantly forgotten when any opportunity arises to stretch its legs.

Sadly, Mercedes wouldn’t let us drive it on the snow at Mt Buller, where it probably would have dug a hole to China with all its power.

If Thor/Chris Hemsworth ever gets altitude sickness from all that flying around, Mercedes’ GT C Coupe would be the perfect car for him, and he can afford the hefty $316,500 price tag, too.

Published 28 June, 2018