Straights, curves and Benz

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Australian Grand Prix - CHIEF RE­PORTER PAUL GOVER FROM AL­BERT PARK

THE speedo in the Benz 507 twists past 200km/h — and there’s still plenty to come.

This could be the Stu­art High­way north of Alice Springs, our only legally der­e­stricted piece of open road, but it’s not.

These are the quiet sub­ur­ban streets of mid­dle­class Al­bert Park in Mel­bourne, trans­formed for this week only into the hottest mo­tor­sport lo­ca­tion on the planet.

It is, with­out any doubt, the best place in the coun­try to go wild in the pocket bat­tle­ship called the 507. The home of the Aus­tralian Grand Prix has no speed cam­eras or on­com­ing traf­fic, and the thun­der­ing V8 is do­ing what it does best, turn­ing petrol into big, big smiles.

Of­fi­cially, my mount is the Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Edi­tion 507. It’s the last of the cur­rent C Se­ries masterblasters and the last to run with­out tur­bocharg­ing.

But the last of­ten means the best, and that’s def­i­nitely my think­ing as I strap into the car for the an­nual AMG hit-out at Al­bert Park.

There is a chap­eron along­side to en­sure I don’t go com­pletely wild, or re­peat the bunker-bust­ing ef­forts of an ov­er­en­thu­si­as­tic owner a cou­ple of years ago, and there is still a small elec­tronic safety net. But the car is run­ning as hard and fast as al­most any­one could han­dle, and it’s a joy. I only wish more people could ex­pe­ri­ence cars this good in con­di­tions this good, to learn that speed is not the de­monic killer we hear about on the news.

In fact, speed is good in the AMG 507, a car that’s been tweaked even be­yond the level of a reg­u­lar C 63. The racer red coupe has body bits from the Black Se­ries cat­a­logue, and the 19-inch al­loys and aero ad­di­tions add plenty of im­pact.

The en­gine up­grade to 507 horse­power — that’s 373kW — means a 0-100km/h sprint in just 4.2 sec­onds. To ex­pe­ri­ence that, pay $169,407 for a four­door and $172,407 for the coupe.

But money and num­bers are for­got­ten as I honk on to the front straight at Al­bert Park. The pits and grand­stands cre­ate a tun­nel ef­fect as I romp down to turn one and face the daunt­ing chal­lenge of late brak­ing.

The car is so good that there is no drama, and it’s the same through the first few curves, then the high-speed sweep to the top of the track, be­fore the re­turn run down by the lake. It’s tough not to get sucked into your pri­vate F1 fan­tasy — or a V8 Su­per­car dream, with the Benz bent eight in the nose — be­fore be­ing hauled in to stop and think for a few min­utes.

Then it’s time to hit the re­set but­ton, go again.

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