The competition was stiff for this year’s Motor Trend Best Driver’s Car, but once again a tenacious machine has risen to the top. After a week of rigorous punishment on closed California roads, Motor Trend’s test track, and the twists and dips of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the year’s hottest new performance cars knelt before one champion: the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S.
Clearly, the boys in Affalterbach didn’t take kindly to the SLS AMG Black Series’ runner-up trophy back in 2013. AMG came back this year chomping at the bit with a smaller car and a brand-new engine: a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 brimming with 503 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. Motor Trend editors marveled at the engine’s glorious exhaust noise, which serves as a worthy successor to the hallowed 6.2-liter V-8 that it replaces. And although the engine is now turbocharged rather than naturally aspirated, the hot-inside-V design, wherein the two turbos are nestled inside the V of the engine, helps reduce turbo lag. The instantaneous response and mammoth torque make the 4.0-liter V-8 a shining jewel with a mean bark.
Paired to a smart-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the Mercedes-AMG GT S soared from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds on the test track. That’s just 0.2 second behind the Bentley Continental GT3-R and Corvette Z06, which both out-muscle the AMG with 592 hp and 650 hp, respectively. It completed the quarter-mile in 11.6 seconds at 124.2 mph, pulled 1.09 g on the skidpad, and braked to a halt from 60-0 mph in 100 ft thanks to its vented and drilled carbon-ceramic rotors.
But it wasn’t all about the numbers that made the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S the king of kings at this year’s Best Driver’s Car. On the 4.2-mile stretch of Route 198 closed courtesy of the California Highway Patrol, the AMG GT S felt tailor-made to devour the steep road’s challenging twists and bends. It satisfied drivers of all abilities, leaving even the most aggressive and capable of the testers breathless. It was assertive, poised, and fearless even over rough pavement.
Randy Pobst gave it top marks after hooning the stylish German around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S found its stride in Race mode, where it busted out a 1:35:57 lap time—smack between the faster Nissan GT-R Nismo (1:35.51) and Porsche 911 Turbo S (1:35.62). “I don’t know if I have ever driven a better-handling car,” gushed Pobst. “I love it that much.”
Click here to read the full story on what other cars the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S beat out, and to comb through the final results yourself.