Mercedes-AMG GT3 track test

Mercedes-AMG GT3 is the ultimate thrill ride

THEY said it was the braking power that would shock the most, even more so than the monumental acceleration and cornering grip.

Out of the pit lane, flat through turn one and there's turn two's hairpin approaching fast.

Slam!

I knew we'd be stopping hard to make the corner, but with my head snapped forward staring at my crotch I wondered how a driver can even keep his eyes pointing forwards to see the turn.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny

What a brutal G-force buzz this was. Strapped into the passenger seat of a new Mercedes-AMG GT3 customer race car, this was my introduction to cockpit life in one of the leading Australian GT Championship cars, in this instance piloted by all-round ace Steve White.

"Just hold on to the roll cage here, and signal if you're going to be sick," I was told.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny

But far from being an uncomfortable experience, this was a thrilling adrenaline ride. A couple of laps around the 3.9km Gardner GP circuit at Sydney Motor Sport Park (or Eastern Creek in old money) in this, arguably the most beautiful GT3 car on track today. In fact, no, this is the without question the most stunning GT3 car on Aussie grids.

Sampling a full blown race car is the only way to fully appreciate quite the leap there is between road car and track weapon, no matter how much you spend on a fully registered supercar.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny

Everything is just dialled up that bit higher. The noise, the acceleration, the incredible speed you can carry through a corner with barely a twitch, that neck-snapping brake power, and, of course, the discomfort.

All that G-force, cabin heat, unsuppressed engine noise and eyes-on-stalks concentration takes its toll. Yet these superhero racing drivers don't just complete a couple of laps.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny

These are endurance racers ready to tackle not just the 12 Hours of Bathurst, but the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring and Spa-Francorchamps. Long days at the office.

But what an office. And let's not pretend we wouldn't love to be swapping race seats with one of these drivers.

Compared to other race cars I've been in the AMG GT3 is actually quite well appointed.

The carbon seats are foam inlayed and reasonably comfortable, while, in typical Benz fashion, the carbon dash and centre console and all switch gear are perfectly finished.

The air vents look like they're straight from a road-going AMG product, but the tiny steering wheel and digital dash are pure racer.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny

The body is of full carbon, and even if the pictures make it look spectacular, you really have to see one with you own eyes.

It is stunningly - brutally - imposing, with a front grille perfectly evoking memories of the famous Benz endurance racers of the 1950s.

Under the heavily vented bonnet is 6.3-litres of high-revving naturally-aspirated V8, which makes the sort of beguiling noise a modern F1 car could only dream about.

And while race teams don't publish specific power figures, let's just say it's little surprise the AMG GT3 is mixing it with the established McLarens and Porsches so quickly.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Photo: Chris Benny

After two laps of pure joy, it left me wanting only one thing: to actually drive one.

The thing is, this is a money can buy opportunity.

The Mercedes-AMG GT3s are customer race cars starting from 372,000 Euros out of Germany, or about $575,000 in our terms.

Wonder if the wife would mind if I put the house up for sale?



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