While nothing is likely to steal the spotlight from the arrival of a new generation of Porsche 911 - or the track-only GT2 RS - in LA, Mercedes-AMG has had a ruddy good go with the new GT R Pro, a limited run model that adds race track derived hardware to the already-spectacular 585hp GT R. Introduced as part of the mid-life update to the GT range (which we'll come to in a moment), the car is clearly intended to encroach even further on the Porsche's 911 GT3 RS's territory.
AMG says its new top turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 sports car is closer than all others to the competition machines it fields in GT3 and GT4 racing. Certainly a glance at the specifications of the Pro suggests this is a clear example of engineering expertise being transferred from race to road. Areas to receive modification include the suspension, structure and aerodynamics, as well as design. Compared to the regular AMG GT, it's almost an entirely different beast.
Let's start with the chassis. As standard, the GT R Pro gets carbon ceramic brakes (an option on the GT R) and coilover suspension that features adjustability for spring preload length, alongside dampers that are adjustable for both compression and rebound rates. Additionally, there's an adjustable carbon fibre torsion bar up front and a hollow steel one at the back, which is also adjustable, along with a carbon shear panel on the rear's underside to stiffen things up. Added to this are even tighter dynamic engine and transmission mounts.
Evidence of the attention to detail applied to the Pro's chassis comes with the ditching of conventional bearings in the rear upper wishbones for Uniball spherical bearings, which join the existing lower wishbone Uniballs. It would have been easy for AMG to leave this setup unchanged because the 'regular' GT R is already brilliantly agile, yet the racier setup was chosen to eliminate even the very slightest change in geometry when the car's under heavy load. Which ought to be music to a track driver's ears.
AMG aerodynamicists have played their part too by further tuning the car's exterior with the fitment of a new font apron, dive planes and front wing louvres, which combine to add high-speed stability and reduce lift. Also helping to keep the car squat at pace are a pair of vertical veins that extend out from the carbon fibre diffuser - they look the business, too, and, perhaps unintentionally, add muscle to the GT R's already powerful haunches. Playing as significant a role away from the eye line is the same active floor as the GT R and a new rear lip.
The changes outside and underneath are matched by a suitably track-inspired interior. There's a rear-mounted steel roll cage (an option on the GT R) bolted to the car's structure, complete with a diagonal X-brace and bar for a pair of four-point safety harnesses that hug AMG bucket seats. A 2kg fire extinguisher is also mounted in the cabin to complete the circuit-ready effect.
Should the racing car features not be aggressive enough for a buyer, AMG can also apply some decals to the exterior. If the car's finished in selenite grey, the stickers are light green. If not, they matte grey. To us, they're unnecessary on such a mighty looking machine. We'd take our GT R Pro unadorned.
Interestingly, AMG has revealed that the GT R Pro has clocked a 7:04.632 time at the Nurburgring, which makes it 6.3 seconds quicker than the GT R - but eight seconds slower than the 911 GT3 RS. Although AMG has been quick to add that the Pro's time was set with "an autumnal ambient temperature of 12 degrees", suggesting it's probably much closer to Stuttgart's arch rival than the clock suggests. Not that anyone takes notice of 'Ring times anymore...
On to the changes applied elsewhere in the GT range. Most significant is the introduction of AMG's new cabin architecture, as first used by the GT 4-door. The sports car now features the same 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch multimedia display on the centre console, as well as the same selection of TFT buttons on the transmission tunnel to adjust everything from the ESP settings to the rear spoiler position.
Another new arrival is AMG's latest steering wheel, which comes complete with handy digital buttons that allow for quick adjustment to the car's engine, suspension and gearbox settings and drive modes. The instrument cluster can also be customised via switches on the wheel, as can the design of the digital display with three options: classic, "shporty" and supersport, the latter of which adds shift lighting.
In addition, all GTs gain a new AMG Dynamics setting for the stability control system, which essentially allows for more slip and wheel spin without completely loosening the reins. AMG says the car does this by monitoring factors including the speed, steering input and yaw angle and decides how much intervention to apply. The result, it says, is a system that keeps things in check but flatters the driver without them noticing. The driver can adjust the setting through four modes: basic, advanced, pro and - exclusively in the GT C, GT S and GT R models - a "you sure, mate?" master mode that "fully exploits the dynamic potential".
And that's about it. There have been no changes to the GT engine line-up, meaning a base GT has 476hp, the GT S has 522hp and the GT C has 557hp, as before. Which sounds just fine to us, because the 'hot vee' heart of each GT has never exactly lacked character. We'll get our first taste to see how the changes applied elsewhere affect the new car version when it arrives on roads next year. We'll do our best to get into a GT R Pro before the GT3 RS goes off sale, if you catch our drift...