AMG Performance Tour – 15/08/2015 – Robinsons Mercedes Benz of Cambridge: Part 1

I must have been12 years old when I first saw the W215 Mercedes-Benz CL500. I was doing a technology project on cars at school and one weekend I decided to get on my bike and cycle to as many car dealers as I could in Ipswich to gather as many brochures as possible to so I could cut them up and make some amazing display for my school. I think I had more luck obtaining literature from dealers then than I do now. Porsche sent me a load of great info on the at-the-time brand new Boxster and also a lovely book on the 996 variant 911 and Jaguar were also very generous. But I mainly remember being in the Mercedes dealership, and seeing this beautiful, shiny, huge piece of metal and thinking “Wow, one day I want to have one of these!” And that’s probably one of the key moments in my life were I knew I was going to be into cars and that they were probably going to play a huge part in my time here on Earth. The receptionist was great too, really helpful and very generous with the current published stock. She gave me the usual stack of glossy paper brochures for the C, and E class and then she handed me two hard backed books. One was for the W220 S class and the other for W215 CL class. Needless to say these never made it into the presentation for school. These were way too important to me. I must have read each one cover to cover a hundred times, which I know is sad for a 12 year old, but that’s what I was like. I didn’t care about dragons, or wizards, or trips to middle earth, all I wanted to read about was V8 engines, the amazing steps in automotive technology like the radar-guided cruise control and bi-xenon head lamps… It took me another 12 years to get behind the wheel of a W215 CL class, and then 10 minutes to buy it. Heart didn’t even think about head then, I just remembered back to that short, blonde scruffy 12 year old on BMX bike gawping over the 5 meters of metallic silver paintwork and the deal was done.

SO little over a year ago, Mercedes announced the new S class coupe, the truly gorgeous W217 and a few weeks later, I was invited to attend an AMG Performance Tour session at Robinsons Mercedes-Benz of Cambridge to see the new AMG S63 Coupe being unveiled and to have a bit of a play with some of the current AMG range. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my name down in time to get behind the wheel of the S63, but I did manage to take the ML63 and C63 Coupe for a bit of a blast to Newmarket and back. Both were brilliant and I especially loved the sheer power and poise of the C63. However, when I left I couldn’t help but feel a little gutted that I didn’t get to experience the car that I was actually there to see, and since then, I’ve been waiting for another invite to give one a go.

As luck would have it, the email arrived, inviting me back for another session with the wonderfully hospitable folks at Robinsons and the AMG Performance crew. This time I was not going to miss out, and to make it even better, they had my new favourite car on the line up – the AMG GT-S. I rang them straight away to RSVP and made sure I was one of the first people on the day to give them a go. So it was all set – 9:00am on the Saturday in the S63 Coupe and then 10:00am in the AMG GT-S. It was like the countdown to Christmas…

When the day finally arrived, it couldn’t have been better. The sun was was out and the roads were nice and dry (unlike the previous event which was on a wet and grey day in November). I arrived early, as usual, and made my way to the reception where I was introduced to my AMG Performance Tour rep and we went through all the usual boring paperwork before we ever do these things and we talked a bit about the cars and then we headed out into the car park to get into the first car.

When he fired up the engine to the S63, I went a bit weak. I know the S coupe is supposed to be a civilised motorway eating cloud of a car, but the noise those twin-turbo 5.5 litre V8 engines make when they are cold is just awesome. It may be as quiet as a mouse behind all the double glazed glass and sound deadening inside, but outside it still sounded great.

The drive was as expected, wonderful. The car is so comfortable and so quiet it is very easy to forget that the twin-turbo warhead under the bonnet produces a very satisfying 576bhp. We wafted along for a lot of the drive, mainly playing with all the toys like the massaging multi-contour seats and rather clever head-up display but then we found a gap in the traffic. The acceleration was incredible, effortless and awesome. It’s what I imagine it would be like going on a super fast theme park ride like Rita at Alton Towers, but they’ve replaced the harnessed seats with Lay-Z-Boy armchairs. It just doesn’t feel right, but at the same time it really does. I remember taking a Bentley Continental GT out for a drive and giving that fabulous 6.0 litre W12 a proper thrashing and thinking “This is amazing, cars this comfy shouldn’t be THIS quick” but the S was that a bit more. The handling is as expected, it’s good and the new Magic Body Control set up is very impressive in a car this size and weight, but it’s not going to win any laps around a track against the more performance focused cars in it’s price category (an eye watering £130,000 before you add any of the cool but probably pointless fun bits)

The big coupe has come along way since the W215 I had. The interior is stunning, the quality of the buttons and the finish of the trim is a work of art. As much as I have always loved the Flying B, the new S definitely gives the Conti GT a run for it’s money. It does help that there isn’t a single switch from a VW Golf in the S though…

Part 2 – The AMG GT-S to follow…

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