8. 2016 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT and GT S
Base price: $115,000 GT (est), $130,825 GT S
The tuning magic of AMG, this German-automaker’s performance division, is available on virtually every Mercedes car and SUV. But this two-seat coupe is the only thing AMG builds from scratch. Successor to the similarly exclusive but twice-as-expensive SLS AMG convertible and gullwing coupe of 2011-2015, the GT aims not at Ferrari and away from grand-touring two-seaters like Mercedes’ own SL-Class. Instead, it’s positioned as a premium sports-car rival to the likes of the Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-type R.
Its body is more dramatic than pretty, with exaggerated long-hood/short-deck proportions, hulking shoulders, and a bubble-top cabin with conventional side doors. It debuted for model-year 2015 in GT S form with 503 horsepower. The less expensive 456-horse GT version bows for ’16. Both use a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 hand-built by a single craftsman, as per AMG tradition. With 443 pound-feet of torque, the GT does 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and reaches 189 mph. The GT S has 479 pound-feet, does 0-60 in 3.7 seconds, and tops out at 193 mph (the top speeds are electronically limited). Both employ a seven-speed automated manual transmission and, with an aluminum-intensive structure and engine set well aft of the front wheels, boast a 47/53-percent front/rear weight distribution. Very fast and unflappable at speed, these rear-wheel-drive machines are in the top echelon of their performance class. The cockpit combines beautifully crafted details and top-notch leathers and metals with no-nonsense gauges and controls, all in the service of extremely serious driving.