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Saturday, 23 July 2011

Supercar Saturday - Jeremy Clarkson Just Had A Crisis

Do you think the design chief at AMG designs monsters for cartoons as a side project?
The tall shouty bloke off TopGear is a big fan of Mercedes-Benz's AMG branch, purveyors of testosterone-fuelled sports/muscle car versions of ordinary saloons and coupés. He owns a CLK63 AMG Black Series, a special edition of the CLK63 AMG made by AMG's even sportier sub-division that's a grizzly, shouty version of the grizzly, shouty version of the CLK coupé. After loving that and having huge praise for the C63 AMG saloon when it came out, his head will probably explode when he sees the creature you see here, for you see, this is the latest monster to emerge from the darkest, maddest corner of Mercedes-Benz: the 510bhp AMG C63 Coupé Black Series.

Now, let's get this out of the way first: I know it's red, not black, but as I've mentioned, "Black Series" is the name of a specialist sub-division of AMG, not some tag they put on to limited-run black-painted versions of otherwise ordinary cars like some other car companies do. I'm pretty sure it is also available in black though, should you not want to explain that to people drawn in by its outrageous looks. The already-big intakes and grilles of the C63 AMG and its recently-released coupé version (part of the first 2-door C-Class range ever, to replace the CLK) have been replaced by bumper holes perhaps twice as tall, combining with the 2011 facelift's new headlights to make one of the angriest faces in motoring today, a look continued right through to the aggressive rear diffuser and quad-exhausts, with big heat vents on the aluminium bonnet, and nestled behind each of the four massively flared wheel arches that draw the eye to those 19" polished alloy wheels (9" wide at the front, 9.5" at the rear).

Despite all that flare, this car's not all show and no go; this is the most powerful C-Class ever. The 6.2 V8 engine has been tuned up from 450bhp, past the 487bhp of the AMG Performance Pack and all the way up to 510bhp, 10 more than the CLK it succeeds, as well as "over 620NM of torque", or about 457lb/ft, which could be exactly the same as the CLK's nice round 460lb/ft. Combined with AMG coilover sports suspension, uprated brakes, a carbon fibre bodykit and bucket seats with the rear bench removed - saving 20kg - the extra power drops the 0-60 time to just 4.2 seconds (from 4.5). Unfortunately the press release doesn't mention the top speed, but because this is from one of the German "Grosser Drei", we can safely assume it's electronically limited to 155mph (250km/h).

The old CLK63 Black Series. No, this one isn't black either...
The power is sent to the rear wheels via a 7-speed "AMG SPEEDSHIFT" automatic transmission, and the presence of an auto 'box might lead you to think this brawny beast is diluted or otherwise not hardcore enough. I reckon it's for 3 reasons: 1) Mercedes buyers don't really go for manual 'boxes, 2) A sequential gearbox would be too racy for a Mercedes road car, and 3) A super-fast-shifting DCT à la GT-R would be too heavy for the track. You can change your own gears with paddles, as is the way these days, but it's one clue that Mercedes-Benz are trying to balance track-friendliness with road-friendliness. The CLK Black, for instance, may have race-grade internals, but many owners use it as a road car, including Mr. Clarkson, whose Black Series actually IS black.

For those that already have an E230 CDI for road driving and want to use this as a track car, fear not. You can un-dilute this car with the AMG Track Pack, which adds, and I quote: "Dunlop sports tires and active rear-axle transmission cooling, plus the AMG Aerodynamics package including flics, a functionally tuned front splitter and an adjustable carbon-fiber rear aerofoil". Serious. Unfortunately there aren't yet any pictures of the Track-Pack-equipped uprated version of this, the uprated version of the uprated version of the C-Class Coupé, which is perhaps meant to fight against the equally hardcore and bespoilered BMW M3 GTS.

Those that remember the C63 AMG saloon for being particularly wayward will be reassured by promises that the standard C63 AMG Coupé is tighter and more performance-focussed in its setup than the saloon (which has to balance sports-car-fast with executive civility), and this Black Series version is of course even more so, with a locking limited-slip differential (LSD), front air splitter, engine parts from the SLS supercar, a stripped-out interior with bucket seats covered in a super-light microfibre they call "DINAMICA", and a "RACE START" launch control feature. To remind passengers and passers by that you're in a hardcore AMG, that naturally-aspirated V8 makes an even manlier noise than usual, thanks in part to the extra power and a sports exhaust system. Aside from the SLS, the C63 is the only AMG left to use this brilliant non-turbocharged engine with its wave of torque at almost any RPM, as we're now in an age of downsizing and turbocharging to add efficiency, something that's even due to affect Formula 1 in 2014, where 1.6-litre V6 turbos will replace the 2.4 V8s, along with a bigger KERS...

To remind the world of F1 what a big NA engine can do, the C63 AMG Coupé Black Series (there's no real way to shorten that down without calling it BS...) will be strutting its stuff in the paddock at this weekend's German Grand Prix, a report of which you can read on Monday. Or Tuesday. Or maybe Wednesday. But definitely before next Weekend. Honest. Until then, I'd like you to imagine what it would be like for Black Series to make a car that doesn't have to balance road and track and can just be a hardcore track version. Perhaps a 600 horsepower SLS Black Series that borrows from the GT3 racer and has a sequential gearbox and a rollcage. You can fill in the rest...

Black Series next to the "regular" C63 AMG Coupé. Feel the menace...
Tech Specs:

Layout: Front-Engined, Rear-Wheel-Drive

Engine: 6208cc V8, Naturally Aspirated

Power/Torque/CO2: 517PS (510bhp) / 457lb/ft (620NM) + / 319g/km

Weight: 1710kg

Acceleration: 0-62mph (0-100km/h) in 4.2s, 0-100mph unknown at this time

Top Speed: 188mph (302.5km/h) - Limited

Price: €97,000 / £85,458 / $139,307 + Local Taxes

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