But the vehicle is not built on a stretched version of that sports car's dedicated underpinnings. Rather, it joins a coupe, cabriolet, wagon and another four-door coupe in riding atop the platform of the Mercedes' lovely, if somewhat quotidian, midsize E-Class executive sedan. This required some rejiggering.
"We wanted to keep the the GT family feeling, but the midsize rear-drive platform is totally different from the transaxle GT car, which is based on the SLS," says Robert Lesnick, Mercedes' head of exterior design. "First, you have to get the proportions right, the long hood. Then, the customer will see first the eyes and the face. Like when you look first at a person, you look at the eyes and the face. That is how you recognize them. But this kind of design project is a dream for an exterior designer, one where you can allow for compromises in interior space, in rear headroom, in trunk space. A narrow interior and a wide exterior."
When the six-figure super-sedan launches later this year, it is slated to feature the same twin-turbocharged V8 that motivates the AMG 63 variants of the current E-Class, the same motor that powers the AMG GT from which it derives its styling inspiration, albeit making a maximum of 630 hp. But the show car from last year touted a 800-plus-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain with 30-plus miles of electric-only range. And there has been a clear indication from the brand that such a setup – or, perhaps, multiple versions of this setup in different states of tune and range – would be available down the line. That said, such a system can often add bulk to a design and definitely was not a feature of the original GT sports coupe.
"If you have a full-electric car, with the battery in the floor, then it can add weight and height to the design," says Lesnick. "But we have many plug-in hybrids and you never see a difference from the outside because the battery pack is in the back. The engineers were able to put it on the same shell with no compromise. So the car is not any higher."
It seems that every auto show brings a new Mercedes vehicle category. This particular car slices the already diced-up three-pointed-star's four-door coupe group into complex triumvirate: The stylish Mercedes-Benz CLS 450, the mid-line Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 and now this high-output and hyper-stylized AMG-only-branded AMG GT Sedan. We understand that, among Mercedes customers, there is an insatiable desire for more, specifically for a model that costs more, and that the brand is, in the interest of enhancing profitability, quite willing to oblige. But we can't help but wonder whether there is some risk of muddling the barriers between Luxurious, Luxuriously Sporty and Luxuriously Sportiest.
"In the history of Mercedes-Benz, we have never had so many cars. We have close to 40 cars now. And, technically, it is design's job to give every derivate its own character," says Lesnick. "At the highest end of the line, the portion gets smaller, and you have to further define those small elements, give options. Of course they get closer. But as long as there's a space, it works."