It is understood that the model has recently met with the approval of Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers and will be targeted to compete with Porsche’s 911 GT3. However, it’s already known that the new car won’t take the GT3 name for production and nor will it be badged under the firm’s Black Series banner.
Speaking at the Geneva show back in March, Moers said: “The Black Series name stays. It will be necessary in the future, but for now the base cars are so good. The Black Series must be at the top of the hill, but I don’t know when or on what model yet.”
Power is expected to come from the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine that already powers the GT. While the unit produces 503bhp in the top-spec GT S Edition 1, Mercedes is said to be targetting a power output closer to the planned 600bhp of the upcoming Mercedes-AMG E63.
Making that power from the engine should be straightforward, because the V8 shares its internal architecture with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor used in the likes of the A45 AMG, from which 355bhp is already extracted. He added: “That doesn’t mean we can get 700bhp from the V8 – it is not as simple as that – but the V8 is currently very understressed.”
Top speed is unlikely to increase from the current 193mph, because Moers is keen to equip the car with considerable downforce, even at the expense of extra drag. AMG now employs an entire department of aerodynamicists for the first time in its history.
The aim will be to reduce the weight of the new car by 80-100kg compared with the 1570kg S version of the GT, a task Moers admitted would not be possible without using different materials. “The car is already 80kg lighter than the SLS and has a similar power-to-weight ratio, so to lose much more weight we will need to use carbonfibre, as we have with our Black Series models.”
Spy pictures have revealed that the new model will receive a large fixed rear wing, as well as new winglets on the bonnet to channel air flow to the rear. A more extreme front bumper can also be seen.
The target for the car, said Moers, is a package that excels in every area. “I don’t want to make a dragster that’s only good for doing 0-100km/h [0-62mph] in 2.8sec,” he said. “We need more power, less weight, better aerodynamics and different suspension, but the targets should be the power-to-weight ratio, driveability, lap time and tremendous feel.”
The new car will also receive wider front and rear tracks to boost mechanical grip. The entire package should cut 10 or more seconds off the GT’s Nürburgring lap time, which currently stands at 7min 30sec with the car using, as Moers put it, “standard tyres, not special compounds designed to last just a few laps”.
Power for GT3 race car, meanwhile, comes from the same 6.3-litre V8 engine as 2010’s SLS AMG GT3, which produces around 600bhp. The engine is connected to a six-speed sequential transmission.
The GT3 was presented at the Geneva show in matt grey paintwork and features a widened body, large air intakes at the front, a new diffuser and a prominent rear spoiler.
Racing modifications include a stripped-out interior and an integrated steel rollcage. Weight-saving measures include replacing the standard engine cover, doors, front wings and aprons, side skirts, diffuser and boot lid with new elements made from carbonfibre. Double-wishbone suspension has also been fitted.
As well as road and race variants of the GT3, Mercedes-AMG is also understood to be considering a GT4-badged version of the car aimed at gentleman racers for whom the cost of entering a fully-fledged GT3 series is too expensive. GT4 is a growing race series globally, with other manufacturers already cashing in with GT4-tuned variants of existing models. Aston Martin is said to have sold more than 100 units of its own Vantage GT4.
“We are entering a hard-fought, hotly contested competitive environment with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3,” said Moers. “The high technological standards are spurring us on to push to take pole position with our new customer racing car. You can only give credible proof of your ambition to lead if you’re beating the very best in the game.”