There are fantastically ugly cars, those who sport a styling that can only be described as “weird,” models with average looks, cars somewhere on the positive side of attractive and those that warrant you doubling back every time you leave them in a parking lot, just to get another look. The 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT is certainly in the latter group.

Its width, short rear overhang and low-slung appearance is engaging, and adding that gaping maw of a grille flanked by angled headlights gives the GT a face that incites dread when it is seen in a rearview mirror. The low-rising cabin elegantly slopes down to the short rear overhang, and the elongated hood could almost suggest phallocentric styling. 

The GT garners plenty of approving nods in parking lots for its looks, but it is no driveway ornament. The AMG product has significant performance and it does well to serve its purpose as a grand tourer.

AMG has served a large helping of updates on 2020 models, including LED headlights and taillights, a redesigned rear diffuser, new-look exhaust tips and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The previous instrument cluster has been replaced by a 12.3-inch display and an updated 10.25-inch multimedia screen tops the center stack. AMG has also fitted the GT with its updated steering wheel which allows drivers to program specific performance functions that can be adjusted on the wheel.

If psychological studies are accurate in assessing that people generally go for the middle option when faced with several choices, AMG buyers will likely opt for the GT C I tested, which slots between the base model and the track-tuned GT R. There is also the grand-tourer-cum-race-car GT R Pro, but only 150 models will be coming to the U.S.  

The GT C gets wider rear fenders and tires, AMG’s Race mode, adaptive damping, performance exhaust, rear-wheel steering and other added features over the base models. It also gets a sizeable chunk of added engine performance.

All GT’s come with a 4-liter, biturbo V8, and the engine in GT C models provides 550 horsepower and 502 ft.-lb. of torque, an increase of 89 horses and 37 torques over base GT’s figures. That gets the GT C up to its electronically limited 196-mph top speed, and 0-60 is dealt with in 3.6 seconds.

And damn, it sounds good while doing it.

The V8 lets out a throaty roar and coming off the throttle results in pops and crackles from the exhaust akin to small detonations.  

Those considering putting a GT in their garage should consider a tire budget within their purchase, and the AMG sports super sticky, but not inexpensive, Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2 tires. Given enough gusto, the AMG will happily spin its rear rubber throughout its peak torque range of 2,100-5,500 rpm. There’s a reason tirerack.com has a video of the GT R jetting around Willow Springs Raceway to talk about the Michelin’s — the company knows owners of GT’s will needing new rubber fairly soon.

Along with an AMG adaptive suspension, the GT slices through corners with huge levels of grip. When attacking undulations, the AMG will let you swing its backside out, but it can call for a bit of manhandling to get it back on a direct course. However, it all makes for some serious fun.

Steering feel is spot on in just about every situation except when it is slightly numb on sweeping corners or those with a decreasing radius.

A significant portion of the $24,000 in options fitted to my tester came from the braking system. The $8,950 upgrade fits ventilated, slotted and perforated ceramic composite rotors the GT’s four corners. While I could not truly test their fade resistance — I do not happen to have a track in the back yard, after all — I can say the system brings the GT to the kind of ridiculously quick and controlled stops that elicit hearty “Hmphs!” from passengers as seatbelts locks.

The GT certainly has the performance worthy of a grand tourer, but in order to earn that designation is also has to be able to soak up long trips with comfort and ease. In that regard, it excels in many facets, but a jarring ride keeps the AMG from truly shining.

Even in comfort mode, the GT’s ride is stiff and unforgiving around town despite an active suspension. Things are improved on highway treks where the jolts are a little more gradual, but it’s still far from comfortable.

Otherwise, the GT is well-appointed and cozy.

The sporty seats are molded well to keep the passengers in place when driving with gusto, and while it would be hard to mistake them for a La-Z-Boy, they are supportive and comfortable enough for long hauls. Ingress and egress to the cockpit is not the most elegant looking process with passengers needing to step over the frame and squeeze under the low roof, but it does make for a low and long seating position good for either sporty driving or hauling groceries.

Speaking of groceries, I had no trouble fitting an entire week’s worth of food in the 10.1-cubic feet available in the cargo area. It’s not exactly cavernous but hauling limited luggage will not present many issues.  

The interior styling of the GT C is pleasing to the eye and has a lavish feel with sturdy, quality materials used throughout. Buyers can also opt for a carbon fiber trim package ($2,850) or a carbon fiber crossbar ($1,600) that runs behind the seats.

Thr Burmester surround sound system which comes standard on GT C models is fantastic.

Along with the new instrument cluster and infotainment screen, digital controls for adjusting the exhaust mode, driving mode, raising the rear diffuser and other features are all digital and presented in eye-catching fashion with buttons surrounding the AMG’s touchpad. While those are easy to use, it can be a bit frustrating to use the GT’s Comand infotainment system, which is sometimes slow to react and difficult to control with Mercedes’ touchpad.

Standard safety features on the GT C include blind spot and lane keeping assists, and my tester came with the optional adaptive cruise control system ($2,250).

Buyers can get in a base GT for $127,900 with the GT C starting at $162,400. Easy for me to say, but the increase in performance is well worth the price jump. With fitted options, my tester rang in at just over $175,000.

With its main competition the Porsche 911, the AMG GT has to impress and engage, and it does.

With its imposing looks, thunderous soundtrack and serious performance, the GT arouses the senses and its drive is smile-inducing.

A rough ride, cramped cockpit and less-than-engaging driving dynamics in some situations are downsides, but any faults in the GT C are easily overlooked when you, well, look at it.

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