In Germany it’s all about the Nurburgring track clock, and every time a car company shaves a few seconds off an old lap record, it is breathless news echoed around the internet. This won’t end until the transporter beam is invented and the lap time falls to zero, but in the meantime, Mercedes-Benz’s inhouse performance brand, AMG, is intent on dicing with the best of Porsche and BMW and using its otherwise gigantic and cushy AMG GT touring coupe as the platform.
A couple years ago AMG unwrapped a track-oriented version of the GT called the AMG GT R. And now, as Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel would say, here’s a new car that goes up to 11. The 2020-model-year AMG GT R Pro is, as hinted from the name, closer than ever before to the AMG GT race cars that the company fields in various series. According to AMG chairman Tobias Moers, the car has already chiseled seven seconds off the AMG GT R’s Ring time, knocking it down to 7 minutes, 4.621 seconds. For comparison sake, Porsche’s biggest street-legal gun, the 911 GT2 RS, claims a 6-minute, 47.3-second time, currently second place in the record books for a road car (a Lambo Aventador SVJ was about three seconds quicker). And that’s without any extra horsepower, as the GT R Pro runs the same 577-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 as the GT R.
Without more serious modification, this is probably as fast as this big bunny is going to go. Of all the changes to the circa-3600-pound GT R Pro, including cutting the weight by 55 pounds and massaging the coil-over suspension with more adjustability, the real credit for the lap time improvement, says Moers, is the extra aerodynamic aids. The movable rear wing gets an extra Gurney flap, a tab that runs along the bottom of the wing to increase its effectiveness, and the front splitter is bigger and with a deeper skirt. A pair of canards at the front corners also increase the aero loading, and the car also has moveable dive planes underneath the car to aid in reducing lift.
Along with a carbon-fiber cockpit roll bar, the buyer gets carbon-ceramic brakes standard (they cost almost $9000 on the regular GT), though not the Recaro carbon-backed bucket seats shown at the L.A. show. For the 125 units expected to come to the U.S. (750 globally), it’s too costly to subject the car to another round of crash testing, a federal requirement when a company swaps in new seats. But buyers can purchase the seats from Recaro separately and, as Moers says with a shrug, “do whatever they want.”
The Pro also gets all the changes that AMG is making to the regular GT coupe and convertible for 2020, including new headlight clusters with LED accents, a revised dash with an all-digital instrument cluster and upgraded infotainment screen, and a new steering wheel. Considering the 2017 AMG GT R cost around $160,000, the Pro will not be cheap, though Mercedes hasn’t announced prices yet for this track toy. However, Moers did say you don’t have to buy the Pro in the show-car’s matte grey paint or get the green stripe if you don’t want it.
Either way, you’ll have to act fast to pick one up. Then again, Moers confirmed to Road & Track that there will be a Black Series model, so unless you’re a relentless track fiend, it might be worth seeing what AMG has yet up its black-velvet sleeve.