There’s something about driving with the top off that’s special. The open-air experience, even when the weather doesn’t fully cooperate, brings a dose of aliveness to the cabin. There’s a sensation of being free and privileged. Apply that to a supercar, and the experience is multiplied by a 100. The Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster brings the same power as its coupe sibling. But with its roof down, it delivers a playful drive that might be more engaging than the hardtop.
2020 Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster—The Basics
There are many similarities between the roadster and the coupe, but one thing that sets them apart (besides the topless ability) is the limited production for the convertible—just 750 units worldwide. At $191,745 to start, you’re getting something special. The roadster is $26,850 pricier than the GT R coupe, and with an array of available options, either can quickly pass the $200,000 mark.
Sharing its powertrain with the coupe, the softtop’s heart is a 4.0-liter V-8 twin turbo that delivers 577 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. We were unable to take the roadster to the track, but our last GT R coupe went from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and on through the quarter-mile in 11.3 seconds at 129.0 mph. Given that the convertible is a bit heavier than the coupe, maybe shave a tenth or two off those numbers . During our 2017 Best Driver’s Car competition, the hardtop finished in fifth place, landing in the upper middle part of the group, and in 2015 we named the Mercedes-AMG GT our Best Driver’s Car.
Whether you’re driving with the top up or down, the roadster delivers more body motion than the coupe. Features editor Scott Evans said the softtop feels more like a sports car and less like a race car, which speaks to how confidence-inspiring it is. The AMG GT R Roadster is easy to drive, showing an immense amount of grip on the corners. A lot of that credit goes to the Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires, which really hold onto the road.
Just like in the coupe, the steering is lighting quick, which takes a little time to get used to. On Angeles Crest Highway’s turns, I found myself waiting until I was on the corner to start turning—twist the steering a little earlier, and you’ll have to correct yourself.
But once you get a hang of the turn-in, the AMG is menacing on twisty roads. Press down the throttle, and the cabin fills with a delicious sound coming from the engine as the rpms ramp up. With your back pushed against the seat, the AMG delivers a thrilling experience. The transmission shifts lightning-quick to downshift and provide more power when being pushed hard. The long hood and pushed-back cabin make the car feel lengthy, and the small windshield and low seating position impede forward visibility. But that doesn’t affect handling.
The stiff suspension, however, will affect your back. Even when driving on the freeway, the roadster’s ride is harsh, and combined with the thinly padded seats, it’s hard to find comfort inside. I felt every bump on Angeles Crest Highway in the cabin, which was a tad too much, even for a knife-edged sports car. Even with the suspension set to Comfort, the ride is still harsh. But that’s what the R delivers: more power and more muscle.
Put the top down, and the AMG shines even more. “Not too much wind in the cabin at speed, not too much noise. My hair isn’t getting too windswept,” Evans said, even after not getting a haircut recently. One would hope visibility would increase with the top down, but that’s not the case. Whether you drive with the top up or down, forward visibility is limited. However, the open-air motoring combined with a punchy powertrain and great handling make the roadster a fantastic car to drive.
2020 Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster—Inside
The convertible shares pretty much the same interior as its coupe and non-R siblings. The main difference is a small plaque that numbers the limited edition model. But everything else remains the same. Despite having been around for a few years, though, the cabin still looks fresh and modern.
The big, circular air vents will grab your attention once you make your way inside, while a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster displays everything the driver needs to know. The horizontal screen mounted on top of the air vents is equipped with the latest version of Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system, which supports navigation and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The aluminum trim and carbon-fiber details around the cabin give the interior a sporty, premium look.
After driving the roadster for a full day, I found the seating position to be a bit awkward. The small shifter on the center console felt like it was too far behind me, and the armrest felt a tad short. That, along with a driver’s seat that doesn’t offer enough support, made my trip from Palm Springs to L.A. somewhat uncomfortable. Few people will take this car on road trips, but when you’re spending a day driving on mountain roads, you want seats that please you. However, even as a softtop, little road noise makes it into the roadster’s cabin.
2020 Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster—The Breaking Point
The Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster delivers a sensational driving experience. With the top down, it’s even more enjoyable. The platform has been around for some years, and the GT is on its way out, but that doesn’t stop this convertible from delivering power and emotion at the wheel. Combined with the sound from its V-8 and the open-air experience, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster doesn’t disappoint.
Is it the best super convertible? Stay tuned.
|2020 Mercedes-AMG GT R Roadster|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door convertible|
|ENGINE||4.0L/577-hp/516-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,850 lb (MT est)|
|L x W x H||179.7 x 78.6 x 49.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.5 sec (MT est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||15/20/17 mpg|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||225/169 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.15 lb/mile|