If the heavens have roads and cars to drive on them, then this was the closest taste of such a heaven I’ve experienced. For getting to drive supercar is one thing, but getting to drive one along one of the most incredible roads through the Bavarian Alps was the ultimate thrill of a lifetime.
This very experience was all made possible by the Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden and its superb team of activity concierges, Manuel, Christina, and Michael. Easily one of the most spectacular hotels I’ve even stayed at and one of the primary reasons I chose to visit Berchtesgaden in the first place, I was excited to discover several weeks before our stay that Kempinski has a partnership with Mercedes-AMG, and that they have several Mercedes-AMG vehicles on hand for guests to reserve for the day, including the GT Roadster and the G63.
I simply emailed them inquiring about reserving the GT Roadster (the obvious choice) for one of the dates of my stay, and if there were any additional charges associated. Manuel very promptly replied, informing me that the only charge was returning it with a full tank of gas and that the Friday I was due to check in was the only date the GT Roadster was available during my stay, so he took the liberty of reserving it for me then.
This actually worked out perfect, as upon arriving from Munich just before noon, our rooms would not be ready yet, so a little test drive in the Mercedes-AMG GT on some exhilarating roads up through Bavarian Alps was the perfect mid-day activity to fill up some time.
Upon checking in, we were met by Michael, who had me fill out some quick paperwork, took my credit card for the $1,500 hold placed on it for incidentals (if only I could’ve kept the points when it was refunded), and brought Pat and me out to the car. After doing a walkaround of the car and going over a few controls, he asked us if we had anywhere in particular we planned on going, which we didn’t, so he happily recommended the Roßfeld-Panoramastraße, kindly putting it into the GPS for us.
Upon driving up into the mountains several more kilometers, relatively tamely I might add as I got used to the car, we reached the toll booth Michael had informed us of, officially marking the start of the Roßfeld-Panoramastraße, Germany’s highest continuous permanently accessible road that follows the German-Austrian border. Stretching 16 kilometers long, the Roßfeld-Panoramastraße rises to some 1,560 meters above sea level and features gradient inclines of up to 13 percent.
Beyond the technical specs though, the Roßfeld-Panoramastraße is simply breathtaking. Offering hairpin turns, steep inclines, long straightaways, and absolutely stunning views, driving this road did give off sort of a celestial feeling, especially considering at some points we were driving above the clouds.
Of course, driving the Roßfeld-Panoramastraße was made even more thrilling by driving an aluminum spaceframed Mercedes supercar powered by a handcrafted 4.0-liter biturbo V8, pumping out 469 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of peak torque at just 1,700 rmp.
Although I can think of a handful of my own friends who are better judges of a sports car’s true performance potential, having participated in many more track days/autocross events and much more liberal in their ability to push a car to its limits than I am, I can confidently say that this is one of the best handling cars I’ve ever driven from a performance perspective.
It’s a very easy car to drive, even with some of the electrical safety nannies turned off. The GT undoubtably feels very heavy, but in a solid and not a clumsy way, as it also feels incredibly agile, immediately responding to driver inputs. The AMG GT does exactly what you want it to do, leading to a very connected feeling from the driver to the car to the road.
Even on the hilly hairpin turns, the AMG GT felt like it was a slot car on a track, well-planted at all times and never giving up any confidence. It’s AMG Ride Control sport suspension, limited-slip differential, and high performance brakes all help contribute to this. Undoubtably turning off traction control and other driver aids do turn the GT a less tamed beast, but on a road like this I wasn’t about to risk skidding off the side of a mountain.
As with most cars nowadays, it has various driving modes (Comfort, Sport, Sport +, Manual) for progressively sportier handling, which I tried, but even in the “basic” Comfort setting it still drives like the sports car it’s intended to be. The optional AMG Dynamic Performance Exhaust had to have been my favorite feature, giving me the option to make its sweet Germanic snarl considerably angrier from the push of a button.
From a comfort perspective, the GT is pretty good as far as sports cars go. As in most sports cars, your ass sits very low to the floor and the suspension is naturally very stiff over bumps. Yet after several hours in it I hardly felt the slightest bit uncomfortable or fatigued, something helped by its superbly supportive Nappa leather covered seats with their many power adjustments and Airscarf neck warmers, the latter an appreciated feature when we put the top down.
The imposing center console looks vaguely Lamborghini-esque with its multitude of neatly-arranged buttons, but I found it relatively easy to find everything I needed, with most controls located in familiar locations to other recent Mercedes I’ve driven. The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was Mercedes’ equally familiar touch pad controller — I guess I’ve just spent too much time in BMWs.
All the expected tech, safety, and luxury amenities were included, because after all, even though the average buyer of the AMG GT probably also has a very nice and comfortable E-Class, S-Class, or GLE-Class in their garage for commuting to work or runs to the grocery store, the AMG GT roadster is a supercar that can actually be a very viable daily driver.
Although I’ll likely never be able to afford one anytime soon unless I choose to make it my mobile home, getting the chance to drive the incredible AMG GT on what I’d describe as one of the most incredible roads in the world was the thrill of a lifetime.