No rain in Spain this week but tonnes of AMG thunder
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.