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Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door: PH Trade-Off!

Fast four-door coupes are becoming commonplace, but a half price match for Merc's bahnstormer is hard to come by

By Alex Robbins / Sunday, February 10, 2019

"Good morning. Yes, I would like to buy a large hatchback with a premium badge on its nose, a luxurious, leather-lined interior, four-wheel drive and a thumping great V8, please. Oh, and it goes without saying that I would like it to go very, very fast, please."

Not so many years ago, walking into a dealership with that set of criteria would have had you laughed out of the place. But things have changed. Nowadays, almost every premium manufacturer has a four-door (or five-door, if we're being strictly accurate about this) coupe in its range, and almost every one of those four-door (five-door) coupes can be had in a thumping performance-oriented version.

The latest to hit the scene is the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door (yes, actually a five-door). Not the most elegantly succinct (or, indeed, accurate) badge, granted, but the car it's attached to is quite special.

"On the fast, flowing A-roads near the Cairngorms National Park, indeed even on the smaller roads around there, the GT 63 is immense," reported Mr Bird in his review. "There's trust in the precision of the front end and the traction of the rear (albeit with a rear-driven balance to the 4WD certainly apparent), unimpeachable body control, powerful brakes and all the V8 thunder you could ever desire."

Sounds good, no? But then, it should do for the price. You see, the other thing the GT 4-Door's name will tell you is that it's pitched not as a fastback version of the CLS, but of the Mercedes-AMG GT. In other words, it's priced in line with its aspiration to be a junior supercar with four (five) doors. In other words, it'll cost you £135,550, before you've added any options. Crikey.

This particular Trade-Off should be a doddle, then, right? We've got £67,555 to play with, and all we need to do is find a big, quick five-door fastback. Well, yes and no, because ideally what we're after here is something that's equipped with four-wheel drive, too; not to mention something that's fast enough to tear your face off and - ideally - something with a thumping great V8 under the bonnet.

Could we forego that last criterion in favour of absolutely no cylinders at all, though? After all, this Tesla Model S P90D can not only match the AMG GT 4-Door's 0-62mph time of 3.2 seconds, but it can beat it by several tenths. It, too, comes with four-wheel drive, a giant boot with a hatch opening, and even more space inside, too. What's more, if running costs are a concern, the Model S makes a seriously strong case, given how much it'll save you on fuel and tax compared with the 25.2mpg, 256g/km GT 4-Door.

The trouble with the Tesla, though, is that while it can demolish a set of corners at startling pace and with almost no fuss thanks to its low centre of gravity and monumental grip, it's not really all that involving. What's more, its build and materials quality won't be a patch on the Merc's - and that's before we even mention the ins and outs of whether an electric car would suit you.

So maybe let's look for something with a gurt big V8 after all. This Audi RS7 Sportback Performance should do the trick. It certainly looks the part in Misano Red, and fits our five-door, four-wheel-drive hatchback brief perfectly. What's more, with 605hp to its name, it nails the face-melting performance aspect - and offers a fabulous soundtrack into the bargain - while its top-quality interior is far more desirable than the Tesla's.

All looks promising, then. But the thing with the RS7 is that it still can't match the GT 4-Door on its outright driving fun. It's handsome, fast, and sounds great - but in corners it does that classic Audi RS thing of going hurtling around with grip and traction to spare, yet without ever really involving you in the experience.

Which is why for this week's Trade-Off, we're back in the land of the Porsche Panamera. This Panamera, to be precise: a 2016 Turbo S with 30,000 miles on the clock - making it a little above average miles, but you do get a full Porsche history. More saliently, the payoff is that it'll cost you 'just' £59,995 - saving you a whopping £7,780 on our budget - and more than £80,000 on what it cost when it was brand new, if the ad headline's to be believed.

Why? Well, have a gander at the spec. Sport Chrono Plus package, Sports Design package, Sports Exhaust System, dynamic LED lights, Torque Vectoring Plus, heat-insulating glass, adaptive sports seats, heated all round, embossed Porsche crests on the seats, a heated steering wheel... the list goes on. This Panamera, in short, is more laden with toys than Hamleys.

It's also fast. Granted, the Turbo S can't quite keep up with our AMG GT 4-Door, but it'll run it pretty close, with a 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 190mph. You still get four-wheel drive, of course, and despite its bulk, the Panamera's still pretty handy on a back road. Yet it can also pull off the GT's trick of transforming into a wafty executive express thanks to that air suspension. Dynamically, then, you shouldn't miss much from the AMG GT.

So to the big question, then: is that warranty - plus a saving of 0.6 seconds on the 0-62mph dash and an extra 6mph - worth the extra £75k you'll pay for the big Merc? Or would you save yourself a bundle and plump for the Panny? We think we know where our money would go. How about you?

3,982cc, V8, twin-turbo
Transmission: 9-speed 'multi-clutch' transmission, 4Matic+ 4WD
Power (hp): 639@5,500-6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 664@2,500-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 3.2sec
Top speed: 196mph
Weight: 2,045k
MPG: 25.2mpg
CO2: 256g/km
Price: £135,550

4,806cc, V8, twin-turbo
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 570@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 590@2,250-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 3.8sec
Top speed: 190mph
Weight: 1,995kg
MPG: 27.7mpg
CO2: 239g/km
Price: £59,995

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