I bought an AMG that sounds like heaven, goes like hell

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AMG GT Straight Outta Tribeca Robert Farago

Back in the day, perfumers harvested musk oil from Himalayan tusked deer. They dried the liquid into a powder, then mixed it with more traditional ingredients to mask musk’s urine-like smell. The result: an aphrodisiac! At least in theory . . .

There is nothing theoretical about the arousal inspired by Elon Musk’s electric car. The Tesla Model S in its more steroidal variants serves-up supercar thrust from start to finish and everywhere in between. If you know someone turned on by raw animal speed, Mr. Musk’s battery on wheels is one wild-ass wingman.

Did I say raw? Not quite. The S’s power plant is as quiet as a comatose church mouse. I don’t mean to whine, but that’s a deal breaker. Driving a fast car without an addictive soundtrack? Might as well eat a slice of vegan cheesecake on cheat day.

Compare the Tesla, if you will, to a 32-valve, “Coyote”-powered Mustang GT.

AMG GT profile
Robert Farago

A man who grows tired of the Ford V8’s sonic signature grows tired of life. Put the ‘Stang’s new-for-2018 Active Exhaust in Track Mode and you’ll swear Richard Petty is riding shotgun. How great is that?

Not as great as a Ferrari F355. Floor the 20th century Italian stallion’s flat plane crank V8 and the engine note hardens into a growl, morphs into a scream, then makes a maniacal mechanical melody that’s not unlike the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse at full gallop. That alone was, is, and will always be worth the price of admission.

Which brings me to my AMG GT.

I know: I could have bought a fully optioned 911 for the same money. The 911 is a lighter, more aerodynamic car that outperforms the AMG GT on many levels. And?

And Ferdy’s ass-engined two-door delivers a sublime whiskey-and-cigarettes rasp, topped by a Formula One whine. No question: it’s a glorious noise. But not soul-stirring. Not for me. For me, the AMG GT’s twin-turbo V8 is what aural sex should be.

Mind you, the AMG GT doesn’t provide a “something wicked this way cometh” rumble on start up like ye olde BMW M5 did. At idle, Mercedes’ twin-turbo V8 produces a high-pitched mechanical rattle, a stereophonic sound that reminds me of the Chevy-powered speedboat that scared the crap out of me as we [literally] flew over Narraganset Bay.

Leave the GT in Comfort mode and . . . meh. Yes, the two seater finds its voice if you punch it — when the engine room finally gets the message that breaktime’s over (thank you turbo lag). It roars out a full-throated operatic version of The Cuisinart From Hell.  

AMG GT badge
Robert Farago
AMG GT at the track
Robert Farago

AMG GT front 3/4
Robert Farago

To get the full aural effect, press the little button opening the exhaust baffles. If you don’t stay on the throttle, the heavy metal music is over almost as soon as it begins, as the nine-speed tranny looks for lower gears.

Sport mode isn’t a whole lot better.

This is much better: Tender your Sport+ VIP ticket via the chrome knob on the console. The baffles automatically open and the blitzkriegspirit of the AMG’s solitary engine builder finally emerges.

At that point, a properly stoked GT’s ferociously silky powerplant sounds like a jet engine at V3. Shifts are announced with a literal bang. The revs, and their attendant howl, don’t so much fall between ratios as withdraw momentarily, like a prize fighter re-cocking his fist in a femtosecond flurry of punches.

Even then . . .

Sport+ keeps the revs somewhere between 2000 and 5000 rpms. Whether the limitation is down to a pursuit of mileage or a simple reflection of the fact that the GT doesn’t have to rev any higher to go any faster, it’s still like wearing lambskin on date night.

AMG GT trip
Robert Farago

The engine’s full sonic glory lives between 4500 and 7000 rpms. In that sweet spot your ears become your sex organs. There’s only one way to achieve and maintain AMG eargasm: use the paddle shifters.

Provided you understand the whoa-Nelly physics of engine braking in a corner, the AMG GT’s paddle shift is a feature not a bug. The steering wheel-flanking metal ears offer all-areas access to distance-warping acceleration and a gut punch bellow that even the sweetest six can’t deliver.

Bonus! You can use the AMG GT’s paddles in any transmission mode. Better yet, you can press a button that stops the car’s brain from slipping back into automatic if you remain in a gear “too long.” That’s the way you do it; money for power and your revs for free.

Back in the day, Lotus designed an audio system that imitated various engine sounds in synch with the engine inputs and played them through the stereo. That system can now be found everywhere from SUVs to the three-cylinder i8 electric supercar. People appear to like it. At least the automakers do. To which I must ask: Seriously? Like genuine musk oil, there ain’t nothing like the real thing baby. And unlike musk oil, a perfectly tuned V8 never fails to arouse. True?

Robert Farago’s first novel, (https://amzn.to/2M8RFva) Reservation Point, is now available via Amazon Kindle.

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