New AMG leprechaun has a pot of golden fury

The new Mercedes-AMG GT R is finally on sale

It’s the same long-nosed AMG GT, but with a wider body, bigger 19″-20″ tyres, a large spoiler out back, ferociously bigger power outputs and zanier colours.

Jump in the AMG GT R , which thankfully retains much of the expected Mercedes-Benz finesse and electronic wizardry, and you can smell the sporting menace. The bucket seats are manually operated and there is a large, round button in the centre of the dashboard that serves a genuine motorsport purpose, but everything else will be recognisable to normal GT owners.

Unlike some of today’s pseudo-sporting creations, with aggression photo-shopped into the pictures, nothing prepares you for the sheer indulgence of this AMG. Using the same 4,0-litre biturbo V8 found across the AMG harem, the unit sends power to the rear wheels via a specifically designed seven-speed automatic box to generate 430kW and 700Nm. Its heavily modified suspension, which we haven’t tasted under normal driving conditions, bobs and weaves deliciously like a demon, but isn’t too harsh for everyday use.

The GT R fires off the line with heart-pounding vigour and theatrics. The motorsport button allows the driver to adjust the severity of the car’s traction control, just as race car drivers can tailor the responses of their car’s equipment to suit driving style. It’s an industry first. Dial it up completely to zero and you are likely to create a smoke machine out of the GT R, while shooting forward askew; such is the intensity of its power delivery that’s soundtracked by a battle cry so shrill and passionate, it’ll be heard at least a kilometre before your arrival.

Its performance envelope lists a time of 3,6 seconds to 100km/h and a top speed of 318km/h. Although it still ascribes to AMG’s dragster qualities, the new GT R also boasts rear-wheel steering as standard, which allows for faster, truer cornering. Below 100km/h, the rear wheels turn in small increments up to three degrees in an opposing direction to the front ones and aid immensely in manoeuvring this 4,5m-long projectile around obstacles. Think of a shopping trolley in narrow aisles. Above that threshold, all four wheels turn in unison for prolific high-speed cornering.

Look, it’s a highly detailed set of technical bits and algorithms, but the sum of all this was felt on Kyalami race track, where the AMG pounded the tarmac like no other road-going Mercedes before it. The thought of some lucky owners taking this resolved fit and finish and remarkable performance onto the roads fills me with envy as green as its paint – known as AMG Green Hell Magno.

Its rivals are anorexic derivatives of Porsche’s 911, BMW’s M4, Aston Martin’s Vantage and in spirit, but certainly not price, the imminent Lamborghini Huracan Performante.

Price: R2 689 900