Storm watch

No rain in Spain this week but tonnes of AMG thun­der

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - Craig Duff and Chris Ri­ley

TENA­CIOUS grip and prodi­gious ac­cel­er­a­tion from the four-cylin­der A45 con­vinced AMG to roll out all­wheel-drive across its ev­er­ex­pand­ing line-up.

The down­side is Aus­tralia will have to wait for new models, rather than mid-life up­dates such as the E-Class, to feel the dif­fer­ence.

AMG’s E-Class project leader Dr Ger­ald Thater says the go-fast di­vi­sion of Mercedes-Benz de­ter­mined there is no down­side to AWD as stronger per­for­mance more than off­sets the weight gain.

‘‘ I’d take all-wheel-drive in the E-Class be­cause it still drives like a rear-wheel car, but the lim­its are greater,’’ he says. ‘‘ It adds to the per­for­mance in the dry, es­pe­cially on the race­track. In other times, in rain or snow, it adds more safety by spread­ing the torque across the drive-train.’’

The AWD takes drive from a plan­e­tary gearset off the sev­en­speed wet-clutch trans­mis­sion. Un­like many oth­ers, the AMG ver­sion fixes torque distri­bu­tion at 33-67 front-to-rear.

The A45 and CLA45, based on the A-Class, will be the first all-paw AMGs in Aus­tralia when they ar­rive later this year. Th­ese are fol­lowed next year by a C63 model. Mercedes Aus­tralia spokesman David McCarthy says rear-drive and AWD ver­sions will be sold.

As ever, it takes a race­track to fully and safely en­joy an E63’s per­for­mance, though any tun­nel will suf­fice to get the full roar of its mag­nif­i­cent en­gine.

No word on pric­ing but th­ese cars aren’t cheap.

Given their en­gi­neer­ing, it’s un­der­stand­able the cur­rent model starts at $240,000. But that still leaves plenty of room for op­tions such as the amaz­ing 1200W, 14-speaker Bang and Olufsen au­dio sys­tem.

Based on the new, facelifted E-Class, the AMG model features a sin­gle front fa­cia de­sign, un­like the donor car which has two, along with the new sin­gle head­light clus­ter that uses LEDs to cre­ate the ef­fect of twin lights— a hall­mark of the past three gen­er­a­tions of the car.

The front track is wider, the front and rear bumpers are re­designed and there are fur­ther cos­metic changes to dis­tin­guish the more pow­er­ful ‘‘ S’’ model from its sib­ling, in­clud­ing larger wheels and red brake calipers.

Benz claims the 5.5L bi-turbo V8 is the most ef­fi­cient se­ries pro­duc­tion V8. Out­puts are 410kW/720Nm and, in the S pack ver­sion, 430kW/800Nm.

The former reaches 100km/h from stand­ing in 4.2sec; the S in as lit­tle as 3.8. Eigh­teen-inch wheels are stan­dard and the S gets 19s and a rear diff lock.

Ba­si­cally, the E63 could still do with more grip. It’s mighty quick in a straight line but needs some fi­nesse through the twisty bits. As in the pre­vi­ous E63, the rear has a ten­dency to step out un­less you’re care­ful, trac­tion con­trol or no. At one point we pulled out to over­take, which can be ac­com­plished in a nanosec­ond, and al­most snapped side­ways into the car we were try­ing to pass as we tromped the throt­tle.

The only way to go is fast in and slow out of cor­ners, brak­ing deep and let­ting the car com­plete its turn and straighten be­fore hit­ting the throt­tle.

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