Why the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster is the ultimate ski season companion

For someone who's never touched snow, driving toward the white-capped peak of Mount Buller through Mansfield is surreal.

It's the middle of the day and the weather is down to five degrees as you surge closer to that white tipped ridge – a scene it's tough to associate with Australia unless you're a dedicated ripper who makes their way up and down the slopes from roughly mid-June to September each year.

Getting your head around all the equipment, etiquette and travel techniques required to get there can be intimidating for a debutant, but luckily on Mount Buller there are plenty of creature comforts to make even the most snow-averse traveller feel right at home.

Pow pow

First thing's first. There's a lot of snow, so you immediately jump into big boots, pants and jackets that you hired in Mansfield before heading up the mountain. Walking across the snow is a novelty (and remains so for two days), only bettered by the feeling of taking the chairlift up to the top of the Bourke Street run.

It's a clear day and the views of the surrounding mountains are spectacular, and makes it obvious why Mercedes Benz have gone to the trouble of opening up a chalet here at the top of the run.

It's the first of its kind in Australia – a temporary structure for the ski season that anyone can visit to stay warm, have a hot drink, charge their phones or, for parents, watch their kids tackle the slopes.

The first lesson (for a beginner) is daunting, but there's one simple rule; remember the pizza, also known as the "snow plough" manoeuvre and you'll always be able to stop, no matter how fast you're travelling. This novice learnt that the hard way on run number one, post-lesson.

Trust in the "snow plough" disappeared and the choice was instead taken to crash into a plastic fence, a better wipeout zone than the nearby trees.

Remember, always trust the "snow plough".


Creature comforts

Luxury, post ski lesson, is needed, and comes in the form of food. Black Cockatoo restaurant has a new head chef (fresh from Rockpool), and what's on offer is, mostly, the equivalent of the finer fare you'd find on Flinders Lane in Melbourne.

Best of the lot is a plump piece of black angus oyster blade steak which is gratuitously slathered in bone marrow butter. There's also a similarly decadent wallaby tarare, a burrata dish with cherry tomatoes and walnuts and Japanese karaage chicken that's shatteringly crisp and juicy all at once.

Before mains the oysters with yuzu sorbet are the highlight and for dessert the black sesame cheesecake followed by the Redskin ice cream (yes, Redskin ice cream) is as delicious as it is whimsical.

After filling up on food and wine it's off to bed upstairs at the Mt Buller Chalet Hotel and Suites. The rooms are warm, bright and a welcome refuge from the cold and sometimes difficult to navigate snow outside.

Behind the wheel

But the other prong in this multi-forked experience is the chance to test drive the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster – an experience that makes any other drive to the slopes redundant in comparison.

Sitting just under the $300k (minus on road costs) price point, the GT Roadster is low to the ground, nimble and mind-numbingly quick. In standard mode it handles like an everyday car (forgetting the difference in power) with the steering firm and the suspension soft.

But flick it into "sport plus" and it's a lot more fun to drive. The steering becomes bouncier and ridiculously responsive to every small move.

The suspension gets harder, meaning you feel every little bump and fall on the road. That sounds annoying but once your behind the wheel the pleasure of such a tactile drive makes perfect sense.

We dropped the soft top while snaking along Kinglake's winding roads and with neck warmers, heated seats and a "draught stop" wind deflector we kept relatively warm but still felt enough of the outside world to know you're in a convertible sports car.

With a 4.0-litre V8 engine that produces 350kW power and 630Nm of torque inside a small, nimble frame the power of this car is surreal.

The writer was a guest of Mercedes-AMG.