AMGs take to Bathurst snow
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TESTING AMGS AT BATHURST WITH V8 SUPERCAR DRIVERS? NO PROBLEMO
It happened as if in slow motion, like it always seems to.
You know, those moments when something has gone horribly wrong at high speed and you are suddenly a passenger on the way to one of two possible outcomes: you will do some serious damage to something expensive that doesn’t belong to you, or you will get away with it and just make yourself look a bit of a tool.
And it was all about to happen at a place where it really was all or nothing — the Chase at the bottom of Conrod Straight at the legendary, terrifying and unforgivingly technical Mt Panorama circuit at Bathurst. The only place where the equally legendary Peter Brock ever rolled a racing car.
We bounced over the outside kerb and slewed sideways across soaking wet grass. Clearly thinking exactly the same thing that had just jumped into my head, the AMG instructor next to me yelled, “Get on the gas!” just as I slammed my foot back on the throttle.
There was no chance in hell I was going to get stuck here. Not with a bunch of fellow Kiwi journos coming down the mountain behind me. That would simply never go away.
The CLA let out an indignant bellow as it hit the rev limiter and chattered and banged away as we powered out of the slushy mud and snow, back on to the track.
We were at the Festival of AMG event — an almost insanely over-the-top exercise in brand building that Mercedes-AMG had put on for its customers. The numbers involved were simply staggering — close to A$12 million ($13.1 million) worth of cars put on the track for AMG owners to thrash around. More than 60 instructors (including a number of V8 Supercar pilots), plus all the support staff. And us: a small bunch of Kiwi journos who got to crash the party on the last day. Almost literally in my case.
All week had been cold and wet,but we were assured that we were the lucky ones; it was set to clear for the final day.
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But it was the afternoon that mattered most, as that was when the full laps got started. The start, for me, was the spectacular GT S. As sexy as this car is in the photos, it is utterly spectacular in real life.
What appears to be slightly retro-looking styling in the pics is revealed to be completely modern in the metal. It looks at its most stunning in a less expected colour than the traditional Mercedes silver.
My first laps in anger were in the new C 63 AMG. Powered by the same 4-litre V8 as the GT, the C 63 pumps out slightly less power and torque — 375kW and 700Nm respectively — and somehow manages to feel like a different car, even on the sometimes treacherously bumpy surface.
What did we learn about the new C 63 and GT S? Well, apart from the fact that they are both ferociously fast, sound utterly fantastic and that the GT is a lither, sharper tool, while the C 63 is sharp, yet ridiculously composed and comfortable ... not a lot.
The GT is undoubtedly the car in the AMG range best suited to it but the little 4WD A-Class-based 45 AMGs are utter weapons around Bathurst too. Which brings us nicely back to where we started — a slow-motion slither across the mud and snow at the Chase in the CLA. Why did it happen? I had been braking too late all day and barely getting away with it in the RWD cars, but the 4WD CLA 45 was having none of that. Brake a bit too late, the nose pushes wide and I was off the dry line. Then it was all over.