Mercedes-AMG GT S: Weight Distribution Makes it a Winner

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Let’s extol the virtues of the front-mid-engine configuration.

Mercedes-AMG has never had a problem making power. The hand-built V8 in the first-generation E55 was potent for its time. Over the years, AMG’s power plants have only grown more weapons-grade through the addition of superchargers and turbos. However, power is most effective when it’s properly controlled. The design philosophy behind the Mercedes-AMG GT S is proof of that.

As part of the second season of its Supercar Superbuild series, which premiered Jan. 21, the Smithsonian Channel has documented the technical know-how and production processes that create exotic machines such as the Alfa Romeo 4C, Rolls-Royce Wraith, and Mercedes-AMG GT. The German sports car is designed to take on cars such as the Porsche 911, but it goes about flying down roads and racetracks in a completely way. Whereas the Porsche can be considered a technical fighter, according to Automobile‘s Christopher Nelson, “The AMG is that brawler, just gets inside and just starts digging at the body and just hits as hard as it can.” Mercedes-AMG GT Engine Placement

It delivers those blows with twin-turbo-V8-powered fists, as opposed to the 911’s turbo flat-six punches. The base AMG GT generates a stout 469 horsepower, more than enough to take on the entry-level 911’s 370 horsepower. The GT S produces even more, cranking out 515. However, that much power needs to be carefully unleashed. Engine placement is key. Putting it too far up front would make the GT nose-heavy. The speed-mongers at AMG opted to put the V8 as close to the driver as possible. As the narrator for the above video says, “Placing the engine behind the front wheels centralizes the mass and puts the focus on handling.”


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The engine isn’t the only heavy part in the GT S, though. The seven-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT helps it put its face-flattening output to the pavement. Instead of situating it near the engine, AMG’s engineers went with a transaxle. According to the narrator, “It’s part transmission and part axle. The layout’s critical advantage is that it moves a large and heavy drivetrain component to the back.”

Mind-blowing steering also helps, as we learned at the Texas Auto Writers Association’s Texas Auto Roundup last year. Mercedes-AMG GT Engine Placement

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his JK Forum profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK Forum, H-D Forums, The Mustang Source, Mustang Forums, LS1Tech, HondaTech, Jaguar Forums, YotaTech, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts. Derek also started There Will Be Cars on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

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