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Mercedes-AMG GT4 is your entry-level world-class racecar

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Late last year, Mercedes-AMG teased the entry-level version of the GT racecar, the Mercedes-AMG GT4. This week at Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps, the German automaker finally pulled all the wraps off the car. Frankly put, this thing looks wicked. The GT4 is based on the AMG GT R and has been homologated for FIA GT4-spec racing series. It's more affordable than the GT3-spec car that debuted more than two years ago. Still, it's sure to be a beast in whatever series it enters.

The 24-hour race at Spa provides the perfect place to debut the car, as this is the sort of racing series the GT4 will be competing in. This isn't the final version of the car, but it's pretty close to what we'll see on the track. It will spend the rest of the year testing and going through final tuning, making its way into customer hands by the end of the year. This is the automaker's first GT4-spec model. It follows the success of the SLS GT3 and will race alongside the current AMG GT3. Look for the GT4 at everything from short sprint series to day-long endurance races.

Much of what was learned in developing the GT R and GT3 has been transferred to the GT4. Like all GT-class cars, there are some production-based components, but even this entry-level model is far removed from what you'll see on the road. That said, both the road and racecars use a 4.0-liter biturbo V8 making up to 503 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential transaxle (rather than a seven-speed dual-clutch). Beyond that, changes become more drastic.

The bodywork is made from aluminum and carbon fiber. The main cockpit is a lightweight aluminum spaceframe. The carbon fiber hood, front bumper, and front splitter are all unique to the GT4. Like the GT R, the front fenders and the torque tube are already carbon fiber, so the GT4 could just transfer those parts over. Like with all modern racecars, the Mercedes-AMG focused a lot on driver safety. The roll cage is made from high-strength steel and aluminum. There's an option for a passenger-side safety cell. There's an escape hatch on the roof and a built-in fire extinguisher.

The suspension uses double wishbones, while the dampers are adjustable for rebound and compression. The GT4 rides on 18-inch forged wheels with 305/660-18 section tires up front and 305/680-18 section tires out back. The car is equipped with six-piston fixed brake calipers up front with four-piston calipers our back. Adjustable ABS and traction control allow drivers to fine-tune the car to their preference.

Aero is key for any modern car, road and race-going models alike. The flat frontal area hides a forward canted radiator. This improves both airflow and engine cooling. Beyond that, Mercedes-AMG attempted to make the car very neutral. The goal was to allow each team and driver to adjust the car to individual tastes, just like the suspension and ABS.

The car goes on sale later this year. Mercedes-AMG hasn't released US pricing, but the exchange rate puts it right around $232,000. That's not cheap, but for a full-fledged ready-built racecar for top-level GT racing, it's a pretty good deal.

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