Ignition

Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inducts 2017 class

- Photo by Ryan Dupont

The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame (CMHF) held its 23rd gala induction ceremony at the Glenn Gould Studio Theatre in downtown Toronto on Oct. 14. Going into the Hall are some of Canada's most important motorsport­s figures, both on track and off, from the past half century: Drs. Jacques Bouchard and Ronald Denis, Terry Dale, Peter Lockhart, David Mathers, Major-general Lewis Mackenzie, Chris Pfaff, John Powell, Sid Priddle and Legendary Motorcar which enters the Hall in the internatio­nal inductee category. Past NASCAR Pinty's Series champion (2016) Cayden Lapcevich won the CMHF Rising Star Award.

The fleet of highperfor­mance AMG vehicles available from Mercedes-benz in Canada is somewhat staggering considerin­g our nation's size relatively small population but, as I learned recently, we punch well above its weight when it comes to buying these cars.

Simply put, Canada is a very fertile market for AMG. How fertile, exactly? Well, Mercedes-benz Canada revealed to a small group of media on a recent trip to B.C. – to thrash some fine AMG machinery on a race track, of course – that Canada ranks third in worldwide AMG sales behind the U.S. and Germany, but is first – FIRST! – in AMG mix-share, which is a measure of AMG share as a portion of total Mercedes-benz sales. I was previously aware that Canada is a good market for AMG, but not that good. Given where the country ranks globally, it's no surprise that Mercedes-benz Canada will import just about every AMG vehicle the parent company can produce.

Canadians have a real taste for these cars, and it is for this reason that the AMG Performanc­e Tour exists. The event, which normally caters to existing Mercedes-benz and MercedesAM­G owners, is now in its second year of operation at Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit (VIMC), a tight and twisty 2.3-kilometre, 19-turn private club track located north of Victoria, near the town of Duncan, B.C.

To help elevate awareness of the program, and its growing roster of AMG models, MercedesBe­nz Canada elected to open up the program to a small group of automotive journalist­s, hence my participat­ion.

The program is a one-day affair and includes accommodat­ions at the nearby Villa Eyrie Resort (which has the same company ownership group as VIMC), with attendees assuming the cost – which included track and off-road components. BASE PRICE: $59,900 (2017) 3.0L biturbo V6 HORSEPOWER / TORQUE: 362 hp @ 5,500 rpm / 384 lb-ft. @ 2,000 – 4,200 rpm

Front engine, all-wheel drive TRANSMISSI­ON: 9-speed automatic 4.9 seconds 304 km/h

THE ONLY CAR AVAILABLE THAT I DIDN'T DRIVE ON TRACK – NOT THAT IT CAN'T BE DRIVEN ON TRACK, OF COURSE – IS THE GLC 43. These cars (both SUV and Coupe) were set aside for an off-road course that was part of an overall tour of the VIMC property. I'm including both here although I only drove the SUV. The course, which was roughly a couple of kilometres long, included a water crossing, a rocky uphill climb, a downhill descent and large offset holes, which pitched the GLC at extreme angles, forcing me to carefully modulate the throttle while keeping a straight line as I drove through. It was an impressive showcase for the GLC 43's off-road capability, a factor that can be overlooked whilst shopping for an AMG SUV.

ONE OF THE LAST CARS I DROVE ON TRACK, THE CLA 45 4MATIC IS A COMPACT SEDAN THAT IS VERY WELL-BALANCED AND HAS A GREAT POWER TO WEIGHT RATIO. The 2.0-litre turbo four is well-suited to a track as tight and twisty as VIMC. It has less power (375 hp / 350 lb-ft.) than many other AMGS, but that's an asset on a track like VIMC. That said, accelerati­on is still brisk, and the lack of mass combined with 4MATIC AWD prevented it from becoming too squirmy on corner exit. The CLA 45 might not have the sexiest looks, but it was one of the most enjoyable cars to drive on track because it can be driven at or near the limit without the same fear of consequenc­e, unlike some of it bigger-engined siblings. I HAD DRIVEN BOTH THE COUPE AND SEDAN ON TRACK AND OFF PRIOR TO THIS EVENT, SO I DIDN'T REALLY EXPERIENCE ANYTHING NEW WHEN I DROVE THEM AT VIMC. I drove the sedan on track, while the coupe was set aside for a parking lot autocross course. On track, the sedan sounded great as the 7-speed MCT bap, bap, bapped its way through the gears, and the exhaust note of the 4.0-litre biturbo V8 was at its snarliest. Generally, I think the V8-powered AMG cars are ill-suited for a track with 19 turns and so much elevation change. Still, the C 63 S sedan feels the most controlled of the bunch, due primarily to being better balanced with less tendency to understeer. Because both cars are RWD, however, snap oversteer is always just a sloppy corner exit or an overanxiou­s stab of the throttle away.

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