AMG Performance Tour 2013

So far, so good AMG!

We really had a blast ahead of the New Year, thanks to AMG. YAS Marina Formula 1 Circuit in Abu Dhabi hosted the AMG performance tour and here's what came to the show: the youngest ever fleet of Mercedes AMG cars all together.

As usual, the program started with registration, introductions to officials, revealing business figures, drive guidelines, snacks and drinks, a short presentation about the cars and finally off to the paddock.

The AMG guys were there to introduce each car, coming all the way from Affalterbach, a place near Stuttgart where Mercedes AMG is headquartered. For those who aren't familiar to AMG, it's the high performance wing of Mercedes Benz. Almost 50 years ago, two former Mercedes engineers got together to start up the company which in the course has gone through share acquisitions and today is wholly owned by Daimler AG. Middle East is the fifth biggest market worldwide for AMG cars and hence has the broadest lineup of AMG vehicles with 18 different models. Enough history. Let's check out the lineup.

The A45 AMG, known as the most powerful production four-cylinder engine in the world, and the outgoing SLS AMG were the two models that I had particluar interest in, though never I dare to ignore the rest of the lot starting with the C 63 AMG 507 Edition, E 63 AMG S 4MATIC, CLS 63 AMG S 4MATIC and SL 63 AMG.

Let me first talk about the SLS. Honestly, I have never driven one and now look at the timing - the year that Mercedes decides to bid farewell to the model. When you get inside, you get it all: both Black series and GT. A long hood and the amazing gullwing doors were always a bit amusing to me and let me tell you, it's not easy to get into the couch. Our lightweight performance car had some staggering figures: 631hp and 635Nm of torque in a Black series edition - that's about an extra 68 horsepower than a normal AMG mated SLS. The GT3 inspired design ticks 0-100km/h in just 3.6 seconds, but the best comes out of it at corners: no body roll, no hesitation and only business. The 6.2 liter naturally aspirated V8 was, however, a perfectly tamed beast. Steering was nimble, easy to control and on a straight track line it gives very good down force, thus offering a great amount of confidence. Over to the GT edition which drops its power by about 40hp over the Black series, plus a few additional exterior features like darkened lights and paints. That sums up the gullwing. My drive was brief, but it will stay in my heart for a long time.

Before I get to the much awaited A45 AMG, I cannot resist talking about one of my favorites: the C63 AMG, that I have some good pictures of in archive of burnouts, tailing and more from when I first drove it two years ago. Here we've got the exclusive Edition 507. It brings an extra 50hp to sum up a net 507hp with a maximum torque 610Nm. To achieve this figure, they borrowed technology from the SLS AMG such as forged pistons, connecting rods and a lightweight crankshaft. The AMG 6.3 liter V8 engine can take you from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds and with an electronically limited 280km/h top speed. There are many new appointments with the special edition, both in and out, but for us it was all about the drive. We like the way it lets off the tail at corners and slaloms to a certain safe angle and quickly gets back steady. Not a cheap deal to buy, but if I had a second option after the gullwing, this one would be it.

For the first time in the history of Mercedes, they now offer a high performance compact car and what a way to debut. As the company statement says, "The AMG 2.0 liter four-cylinder turbo engine is the most powerful series production four-cylinder engine in the world." Black alloy wheels in twin-spoke design, a matte titanium grey painted AMG "twin blade" radiator grille and the cross strut in the AMG front apron certainly draw attention. Further, we've got red and black stickers on the bonnet, sideways bottom line and on the rear spoiler. We've used the term ‘pocket rocket' many times in the past, but the A45 AMG seems to fit the bill perfectly. I mean, look at the output of 360 hp and 450 Nm of torque that comes out of the 2.0 liter four-cylinder turbo engine. A twin-scroll turbocharger further enhances the response, and the whole system works on an all-wheel-drive system. We'll write a detailed review coming soon, but let me just state the highlights. Due to it's small size and very powerful engine, it's a perfect car on track. The exhaust note is just amazing considering the size; no one will expect a roar out of it. On slalom, it kept well and on a straight line it ticked 100kph at a staggering 4.5 seconds. For real, we were on a holy 2.0 liter engine! Though there wasn't an instant quick start effect, you could feel the speed increasing as we went further and so were never left alone an alien among the mighty AMGs.

Our next tester was an E63 AMG which now has a powerful S-Model with an output of 585 hp, 800 Nm of torque also featuring a performance-oriented AMG 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. With a 5.5 liter twin-turbo V8 under the hood, it's the most powerful in its segment. Unlike last year when the E-class had an appearance consisting of straight lines and sharp corners, this time there is a bulbous appearance throughout with a better aerodynamic look. With the size, it's hard to believe it is the quickest in a straight line and so was the champion in the drag strip exercise. It really stood like a rock in corners and braking was exceptional.

CLS 63 AMG was the other drag racer which, in a way, surprised me. Firstly, it is very long, sleek and looks like an estate car. When put against the E63, it threw a good fight and even overtook it a few times. A staggering 900Nm torque propels 564 hp out of the AMG 5.5 liter V8 biturbo engine and 0-100kph in just 4.3seconds. Braking was above par and how. It's a car with immense talent but awkwardly fashioned - the reason why we rarely see them on road.

Next up was the SL63 AMG. Do I repeat our theme again? Yes, it's a fast car! With a 5.5 liter, V8 bi-turbo engine we get 537 horsepowers and 800 Nm of torque. And when the optional Performance Pack is added we are talking business: 564 horsepower and 900 Nm of torque. This is a lot of power on a small car which weighs less due to the aluminum body than on the SLS; say, 125Kgs trimmed. Steering was nimble with reasonable feedback and the car was well in control with very strong brakes. It cruised well enough on straight laps and stayed balanced on slalom.

The whole night turned out to be time well spent. We had plenty of test time with each and every car to do the usual laps, drag racing, emergency parking tests and anything else we could think of to test its limits. After six hours of non-stop action, we needed a nap and so were guided to Yas Viceroy Hotel next to the circuit. In summary, this session tells you the story of a group in Affalterbach working hard to offer the best tuned sports car out of a Mercedes Benz regular. It requires precision, knowledge and a lot of effort. So far, so good AMG!

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