Three cars, all floating around the 200k € mark at the moment. But which one would you take on a road trip to the birthplace of Italian supercars and enjoy roads in the Alps?
This is the Ultimate Drive.
So we have been playing with this idea for a while. 2 friends of Ward & I own a Porsche 991.2 GT3 RS and a Ferrari F12berlinetta and we always wondered which one would be the best to take on a road trip. But to make it a little more interesting, we asked Mercedes-Benz if they could deliver a worthy opponent to match these two. And sure enough, they did and provided us with an AMG GT C. So we could start and get this trip on the road.
Taking the GT C to a place in Italy with Affalterbach roots.
Our first stop was going to be the birthplace of Italian supercars and in particular the birthplace of Pagani. We made the trip from Brussels to Modena and pulled into the hotel where we were greeted with the hotel owner’s Tailor Made 599 GTO. The next morning, after filling up the cars and seeing an SF90 drive past, we went to Pagani to do the factory tour.
And it blew our expectations. The factory inside is modeled to mimic a small Italian village. Everything from lampposts to a bell tower can be found here. One thing you won’t find? Robots because they still build every Pagani by hand. From laying the carbon in the perfect shape to trimming the panels for perfect panel gapping all around the car. I highly recommend doing the factory tour. It’s such an amazing experience to see these cars from start to finish. Unfortunately, no pictures allowed here.
Quick lunch stop at lake Garda
During a quick stop at the beautiful Garda lake, we discussed the different cars.
The Ferrari F12berlinetta is powered by a 6.3L NA V12 engine producing 740 hp and 690 Nm of torque. The engine sits behind the front axle so it’s considered a mid-engined car. It sends the power to the rear wheels through a 7-Speed dual-clutch gearbox. Weighing in at 1630 kg the F12 takes only 3.1 seconds to get to 100, 8.5 seconds to 200, and will go on to a top speed of 340 km/h.
The Mercedes-AMG GT C is powered by a 4.0L Biturbo V8 producing 557 hp and 680 Nm of torque. Like the F12berlinetta, the GT C’s V8 sits behind the front axle, turbos in between the V-shape to reduce turbo-lag. Power runs to the rear wheels through a 7-Speed dual-clutch. And with a weight of 1625 kg, it pushes itself forward to 100 in 3.7 seconds onto a top speed of 317 km/h.
Last but not least, the Porsche 911 991.2 GT3 RS is powered by a 4.0 L NA Flat-Six producing 520 hp and 470 Nm. The engine, in typical 911 fashion sits behind the rear axle. Power also runs to the rear wheels only through the well known 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. Weighing in at 1430 kg, the GT3 RS pushes itself to 100 in 3.2 seconds onto a top speed of 312 km/h.
Interesting numbers to say the least so after the tasty Italian lunch it was time to hit the road again for the Alps!
Naturally when traveling through mountainous areas. You cross a lot of tunnels. And when you have a convoy that’s this great. You just can’t not do a soundcheck.
The GT3 RS has this very high pitch howl that steadily increases as you go through the rev range. But when you pass 7.000 rpm, that’s when the party starts. The howl from the engine intensifies and you can hear the whine from the gearbox come into the cabin, just like a purebred racecar.
The AMG GT C is the bass player of the trio. The sound inside the cabin is very apparent once you push the exhaust into “Powerful” mode. On the outside, it produces a very deep grunt but feels a little bit muffled since regulations stepped in. However, on the downshifts it’s a brute. Once it’s in the Sport+, the mapping changes and downshifting results in what feels like a shotgun blasting from the exhaust.
But once the F12 enters the tunnel, every single car shuts up. The roaring screams from this naturally aspirated V12 are so loud yet it screams so harmoniously. All that from a stock exhaust. When it comes to making a great sounding car, you can never beat a V12. Ever. There’s just no way.
The interior of the AMG GT C feels like a cocoon. You’re wrapped inside between the drivetrain and the door. The car setup can be accessed through the buttons on the drivetrain column. But also by those epic buttons on the steering wheel that we all love. The dashboard is now all digital and looks great when you select the supersport display.
The performance seats hold you very nice in place. There are even buttons to narrow or widen the seat bolsters so you’re not sloshing from side to side. Just a little bit more cushioning for a bit more comfort would be great for the longer journeys but overall they are very, very good.
However, you can see the age of this platform by the lack of a touch-screen and most notably by the previous generation key (which on the display is mistaken by the new one).
Trunk space isn’t too bad but with 350L of space. Plus it makes for a nice place to sit as well.
A true GT approach
And whilst the AMG GT C is all about wrapping you inside the car. The F12 features a much more open cabin. The drivetrain column sits down a lot lower and it also gives the passenger slightly more legroom. In the middle of the dash sits the analog rev counter. A key defining feature for every Ferrari. On either side of the rev counter, you’ll find a screen. These show the information you want by using the switches on either side of the wheel. And these switches are the most difficult controls to operate. Not those on the wheel. One of my favorite things about Ferrari cars from this era is the horn. It’s so Italian to put that right at your thumbs.
The Daytona seats look great and are extremely comfortable on the plus side.
Also since this is the biggest GT of the 3 cars here. Unsurprisingly, it’s got the biggest trunk as well. A whopping 500L is plenty enough to please the Italian Mafiosi interested in this car.
Less is more
Finally, the GT3 RS is just as you would expect it to be. They say that less is more. And in the case of the GT3 RS, that’s completely true. You get the classic 5 dials in front of you with the rev counter in the middle. All of them are analog except for one which many things like navigation, g-forces,…
There are no buttons on the steering wheel to distract you from the driving experience this car will provide. You control everything through either the center touch screen or the buttons below the gear selector. Surprisingly actually. The most hardcore, track-focused car of the 3 is the only one to feature touch-screen infotainment.
Alcantara is the main theme throughout the car. And that optional embossed Porsche logo in the armrest is just the cherry on the cake.
The solid-shaped seats in carbon look just epic, especially with those racing harnesses in place. But don’t be scared that (because of the way they look) they will be uncomfortable. On the contrary, they dampen out the bumps quite well.
However, with the trunk under the bonnet only providing you with 145L storage space it’s going to be tough to pack a lot in there. And the roll cage takes away space for anything bigger than a handbag.
The Timmelsjoch Pass king
After arriving at our hotel in Sölden in the late afternoon we went up to the Timmelsjoch Pass. To see which car we could crown as the king of the pass.
First up: the F12
While the F12 at low revs on a highway is a luxury cruiser that will eat the road for days. But make no mistake. Put it on a backroad and the F12 will show its true nature.
Throttle response is imminent and it moves like no other car. The steering is sharp. And although this is the largest car in this group, you feel connected to the road. You always know exactly where the car is on the road, even with that massive bonnet in front of you.
Hit the brakes and those ceramics will hit like an anchor. However, in tight hairpin corners, this car feels a bit out of its comfort zone due to its larger size and mostly because the low roofline makes it tricky to watch oncoming traffic from above. Lift of the throttle at low revs and the car makes this subtle burble that you’ll only ever notice if you’re driving the car yourself.
It’s a real joy to drive this car through the bends. The rear is a bit on edge on these nearly worn Pilot Super Sports, well it’s 740 hp to the rear wheels duh. This can be fun if you know the car very well but with limited experience, I decided not to push my luck. It’ll be interesting to see how this car will react to a stickier tire setup.
Next up: the GT C
And this further shows how well the AMG can do pretty much everything. Adaptive suspension turns the car from a comfortable cruiser into a very well communicative chassis. You sit so deep into the car with this massive bonnet in front of you. The steering is nicely weighted but I have no clue how AMG managed this next thing. During cornering, the GT C feels like it’s just moving straight but sideways. I mean there is 0,0 body roll in this car. And on top of that, you get the same active rear-wheel steering borrowed from the AMG GT R. This is great on the tighter hairpin bends as you’ll have no stress making the corner without straying onto the wrong side of the road.
But then once you step on the throttle, god that torque. There’s just nothing else out there. It comes in at 2.000 rpm and it just keeps pulling and pulling and pulling. The engine is a masterpiece really. You just can’t flaunt anything on it. Before you know it, you’re at the next corner. The brakes bite hard and firmly. So much we put up the cargo net to stop luggage from flying around the car (massive recommendation). Only going downhill you can feel the brakes get softer a little bit after a few corners but it’s predictable so you won’t fly out of the corner.
You can feel that the car was built around the engineWard on the GT C – 08/2020
Finally: the GT3 RS
I’ve heard so much about this car and the 911 in general. So it was time to get into these dedicated bucket seats. Turn the key and that 4.0L derived from the Cup car roars into life. There are no 100 different ways to set driving modes. Just a button for the suspension and the PDK and off you go.
And from the moment you set off, you feel what this car is all about. Instantly, every imperfection in the road is communicated through your buttocks.
Once you are set off and you step on the power. Oh, what a screamer this car is. It revs up to 9.000 rpm. So high, in fact, you need to adapt to how high it revs because you’re just short-shifting out of habit. But trust me, you really want to push this above 7.000 rpm because the power just keeps on building. As so does the induction noise and the race car whine of that gearbox.
Come to a corner and you hit those PCCB brakes which will never ever let you down. Downshift from fourth to third to second and first just before the hairpin and you start to get the feeling why everyone praises the PDK so much.
You turn into the corner with confidence. Steering is accurate for being electric and the rear-wheel steering helps massively for tight corners.
Exiting the corner and the NA engine shoots off with smooth building up of the power. Shifting through second, third, fourth and you’re really sold on the PDK gearbox. It’s just such a fast-shifting box without ever tossing you around.
The Ultimate road trip car?
And then we come to the toughest part of the review:
The F12 has tonnes of space inside and rides comfortably enough to be the best GT out of this trio. However, as nice as the massive power and torque from the V12 are, they can be a bit intimidating to fully push it. The roofline is also quite low. This makes it sometimes quite tricky to look out of when you’re driving a lot of twisties.
The GT3 RS is a razor-sharp weapon, everything is just right about this car and the way it handles corners and it is the most fun to really push up and especially down the mountain. Damn those ceramics.
Naturally, this car also has a certain however. You can feel the car is track-focused. And in that means, on the highway, the drone from the engine and gearbox won’t make it a long-distance cruiser as you’ll get mentally exhausted from driving it for hours.
So if the F12 is the best GT and the GT3 RS is the best driving car out of the 3, where does that leave the GT C?
Well at first it might seem that it doesn’t really excel anywhere. But that’s where you’re wrong. The GT C is quite a practical car and is comfortable enough to drive hours after hours after hours. Even at higher speeds through Germany, the car still doesn’t feel pressured a bit. But when you push it up a mountain pass, it really comes alive. The rear-wheel steer and great visibility provide excellent confidence through tighter corners. And the torque will always send you off like a rocket when you come out of the corner. Brakes are very good and bite firmly but keep those ceramics in mind if you’re going to be driving through the mountains regularly.
In the end
It all depends on what your personal preferences are in a car. The F12 and GT3 RS will provide you with the best experience on both ends of the spectrum. However, if you’re searching for a good middle ground. Then the AMG GTC will be your perfect match.
In the end, Ward would take the GT3 RS because he likes pain he says. Alex (the GT3 RS owner) would take the AMG GT C because of its great touring qualities. And both Oliver (F12 owner) and I would take the F12berlinetta because of the sound and the relentless push of the engine.
Massive thanks again to Mercedes-Benz Belgium for trusting us with their car!