N a - developers in the automotive industry are really not to be envied. More convenient, faster, safer. Anyone who wants to sell a new car to a man or woman has to guarantee that the newcomer is better. Better than its direct predecessor, better than other similarly positioned models from the brand and - if at all possible - better than or at least as good as the competition.
In order to guarantee this you need brains, care and a lot of love for detail. Because the improvement measures must of course not cost the world either. After all, car buyers' insensitivity to pain with regard to price is not unlimited. Especially with the volume models that support the brand, such as the Mercedes E-Class, and in times like these, when even good cars no longer sell by themselves, the development department must not make any mistakes. Saving money in the wrong corner or trying to re-launch the egg-laying wool milk sow have often avenged themselves. Modern cars should somehow be able to do everything, but everything should be good too.
The AMG models are the Mercedes flagships
That also applies and especially for the sporty flagships of a brand. At Mercedes, these have been vehicles with the letters AMG in their names for a good 40 years. Since the move away from the 5.5-liter supercharged V8, they have had the abbreviation 63 on the rear. That stands for naturally aspirated engines with a generous amount of power from 6,208 cubic centimeters distributed over eight cylinders and is used across all series with the exception of the smaller models (A, B, CLC, SLK and GLK). From a sporty and sport auto point of view, the CLS 63 AMG, the C 63 AMG, the SL 63 AMG and the E 63 AMG - the youngest spearhead from Affalterbach - are particularly interesting. The order in which they are named is not chosen at random, but corresponds to the chronological order of the market launch, which plays a significant role. But more on that later.
At the beginning of the direct comparison of the Star Warriors, a distinction is required. First of all, there is the CLS 63 AMG. A sedan positioned by Mercedes as a four-door coupé with 514 hp, rear-wheel drive, seven-speed automatic and an impressive 1,958 kilos. With a length of 4.91 meters, luxuriously comfortable interior and an elegant appearanceMore intended for long journeys than for racing on winding country roads or closed-off terrain and therefore only configured to be moderately sporty. This can easily be seen from the lap time of 1.18.5 minutes determined in the sport auto comparison with the BMW M5 (issue 11/2007). Noticeable turn-in understeer - according to the judgment of my colleague - coupled with the possibility of power oversteer at any time cost the rear-wheel drive vehicle valuable time on the small course.
The Performance Studio at AMG developed special packages for AMG models
At that time, the Affalterbach engineers only modified the series chassis moderately. This changed with the debut of the C 63 AMG, which uses the same naturally aspirated V8 engine and has 'only' 457 hp, but at 1,761 kilograms, which is also significantly lighter. At AMG, the Performance Studio was now active, which is not only responsible for the Black Series models dedicated to the hardcore clientele, but also develops special performance packages for selected AMG models. One of these made the Supertest entered C 63 quickly and - thanks to the sports suspension, which is subject to a surcharge - unduly hard. On public roads, the sub-structure, which is consistently dedicated to driving dynamics, was able to knock the occupants softly.
1.15.7 minutes in Hockenheim and the associated unusual proximity to direct competitor BMW M3 is the reward for sacrificing comfort . On the undulating rollercoaster of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, the hardcore set-up does not bring any time advantages, as the comparison drive with a C-Class model provided without a sports suspension proved. With the much more comfortable series setup, she achieved the same lap times.
The damper settings and elastokinematics of the Mercedes SL 63 AMG have been revised
When Mercedes AMG took on the newly launched cult roadster SL in 2008, the work on the chassis, which is so important for a high degree of lateral dynamics, was tackled even more thoroughly. For the first time, in the case of the SL 63 AMG, not only was the damper tuning of the standard ABC chassis revised, but the entire elastokinematics of the axles were also modified. In combination with the AMG-specifically optimized parameter steering, this allows the two-seater to act much more agile and light-footed than would have been expected in view of the considerable vehicle weight of 1,986 kilograms.
On the short course In Baden, the rear-wheel drive leaves a new scent mark with a healthy thirst (19.8 liters average consumption per 100 kilometers) with 1.15.0 minutes. That this time on the same day with a warm 21 degrees air and 28 degrees asphalt temperatureIt was driven out like the impressive 1.14.0 minutes that the brand new E 63 AMG can record, gives it a special significance. Both cars use the most powerful version of the 6.3-liter vacuum cleaner with 525 hp. The SL 63 has to set 3.8 kilograms in motion with every horsepower, the E 63 AMG, which is around 100 kilograms lighter.
The AMG Ride Control suspension has great merit in its fast lap times
That alone does not explain the sedan's lead over the roadster. Rather, the newcomer, wrapped in a classy matt gray metallic dress, has the highest degree of modification of all AMG models. That leaves its mark. No Mercedes at Hockenheim has ever played more light-footed than with the AMG Ride Control suspension with electronically controlled damping, which was developed in-house in Affalterbach. The five-seater, which has a newly designed front axle, steers in extremely jaggedly, is basically committed to a high degree of neutrality, but at the request of the driver can also hang out the sharp-edged, clearly drawn rear - just as you like. The transition from static to dynamic friction is never unduly fast or even treacherous, but always so gentle that there is time to initiate countermeasures appropriate to the situation.
Here, both the unconventional combination of conventional steel suspension at the front show - and air suspension on the rear axle as well as the fifth generation Conti SportContact tires specially developed for the powerful E have a positive effect. In a harmonious interplay, this combo gives the rear drive axle, which is acted upon with up to 630 Newton meters of torque, an astonishing degree of traction and composure.
The ESP can be completely deactivated in the Mercedes SL and E 63 AMG
This and the increasing independence and sports orientation of the Affalterbacher Sportdependance make any arbitrariness of the security systems, which of course also here on board, unnecessary. In contrast to older AMG models with 63 identification, the ESP, which racetrack youngsters perceive as a fun killer, can be completely switched off in both the SL and the E 63 AMG. On the brakes, the ceramic stoppers, which are subject to a surcharge and whose exact price had not yet been determined at the time of going to press, are stable and reliable. The pressure point is precisely defined, the pedal travel remains just as constant as the deceleration values in the standard measurement: the pads gripped warm with a mean 10.5 m /s2. In view of the newcomer's pronounced temperament, this is also advisable. Finally, despite all its sportiness, the limo, which is suitable for long journeys and families, dashes from standstill to country road speed within 4.5 seconds.
The 200 km /h hurdle is cleared after 14.6 seconds. So the E 63 AMG is definitely in a league with thatproven sports comrades like the Porsche Panamera Turbo. The AMG drivers in charge should be particularly pleased that the four-seater with the rounded rear of the sinewy notchback sedan cannot pull away noticeably even in the hunt for times on the small course. With 1.13.7 minutes, the two-tonne athlete's lead over the powerful Mercedes is very thin. Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen and Affalterbach have never been closer together. One can only hope that the competition from Garching will do everything right now. The new BMW M5 is coming from there in the near future. Well then: To the developers!