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PPalm Springs is the second home to Hollywood stars. And that has been the case since the 1960s. To this day the spectacular mid-century modern architecture acts as an indelible timestamp for when the popularity of Palm Springs grew to unforeseen heights. A small, lush, remarkably flat desert city located in the Coachella Valley. Enveloped by the San Jacinto Mountains, which tower more than 3,000 meters into the sky and whose peaks shroud Palm Springs from the afternoon sun. In doing so, they provide a welcome respite from the scorching summer heat of California. Now, however, it is the beginning of December. And while it might very well be a chilly 4 degrees Celsius and mostly cloudy at AMG headquarters in Affalterbach, Germany, at the AMG Private Lounge Days Palm Springs we’re enjoying a gorgeous 28 degrees Celsius. This dreamlike weather is no surprise. It’s always beautiful here, as Palm Springs offers sunshine 350 days per year. And in the evenings, the temperatures cool off just enough that you can slip on a jacket for dinner. On our way to the restaurant of our hotel, in the stunning garden of the resort we gather around a temporary stage that shimmers in the setting sun. The lights dim. Two large flat-screen televisions shine instead. Music starts. The vibrations of the speakers course through your body. An AMG GT S whooshes past on the screens, sideways, with enough thick smoke coming from its rear tires to completely obscure the car. We watch this sequence again and again – then, in one fell swoop, it’s over. Silence. And into the spotlight’s beam steps David Coulthard. No one saw it coming. We listen, mesmerized, as he introduces himself and welcomes us to Palm Springs. David Coulthard! Welcoming us! Then out walks the next star into the limelight: Bernd Schneider. And the next: Tobias Moers. The man who’s responsible for creating the actual star of the evening, the Mercedes-AMG GT S, which we are finally seeing in person for the first time. At first still covered with a sheet, then its pearlescent white curves are in plain sight. To be sure, the members of the AMG Private Lounge are treated like Hollywood stars by the staff of the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage. This weekend, however, it’s far more important that we’re among the first people on the planet to be allowed to take a seat behind the wheel of the new sports car. When we wake up tomorrow morning, we’ll explore the narrow roads that meander through the San Jacinto Mountains. But only after we’ve had the opportunity to thunder around the brand-new racetrack at the Thermal Club in the Mercedes-AMG GT S. I can feel the excitement in me. It might be a sleepless night. When we arrive at the Thermal Club just after sunrise, I don’t know a soul. Most of the others already know one another. In fact, many of them have participated in previous AMG Driving Academy or AMG Private Lounge Days events. In that regard, this morning session is like a reunion of old friends. Although all of them have, of course, come primarily to make a new acquaintance – the Mercedes-AMG GT S. Inside my helmet, my brain replays a sound clip of Tobias Moers from last night’s speech: “Nobody will miss the old, normally aspirated engine.” I hope he’s right, because the pavement is still covered with a layer of desert sand from high winds the night before. I for one already have sweaty hands. For the most part I will miss the old M 156 engine, although I still don’t know what the new turbo engine can do. But any reservations are swept away the second I hit the gas pedal. The M 178 responds with incredible power. And once it’s spinning at 2,500 rpm, the rear end can be coaxed out with the right pedal, yet it remains easy to control. On my second lap, I beat the time David Coulthard set earlier in the morning. Mercedes-AMG GT S Engine 4.0-liter biturbo V8 (M 178) kW/hp 375/510 Nm at rpm 650 at 1,750–4,750 Power-to-Weight Ratio 3.08 kg/hp Curb Weight 1,570 kg Power Transmission AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sports transmission Fuel Consumption NEDC Combined 9.6–9.4 l/100 km CO2 Emissions 224–219 g/km Efficiency Class G Acceleration 0–100 km/h 3.8 s Top Speed 310 km/h 10


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