It’s always a pleasure to drive any vehicle around Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi with its endless ribbon of pristine tarmac. However, when the invitation came to test the entire AMG range, I was excited to sign up for some serious, adrenaline-fuelled fun. Mercedes brought along enough power to send a rocket to the moon; 14,904 bhp of Affalterbach's finest to choose from and vigorously put through many different types of exercises such as dynamic tests, emergency braking, drag races and, my personal favourite, fast laps!
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
The definition of a hooligan! The sound of the fiery V8 is like no other and demands a moment of silent awe. The SLS has a tendency to encourage anti-social behaviour but luckily we were in a controlled environment and I was able to see its full potential without receiving an ASBO. The SLS gives massive amounts of feedback, in every way possible. Through the steering, the way it moves around and the thunderous engine note making gear changes punchy. Even cornering fast in low speed corners, the agility of the SLS AMG is outstanding.
The Mercedes ‘Instruction of the Day’ was that under no circumstances was the traction control to be disabled, but the driver prior to me turned ESP off as a prank and I received the shock of my life as I pulled away. When the SLS is off the leash you really need to know what you’re doing as it’s a handful, fortunately years of track driving instinct kicked in and I exited the corner gracefully followed by a plume of smoke and much applause!
Although it’s not the fastest in the AMG line up anymore, I’m still a big fan of the unique aesthetics; gull wing doors along with the long sleek hood and a snub rear. It gives it a striking appearance that no other car on the market today can contend with. The SLS AMG comes equipped with a naturally-aspirated 6.3 litre V8, producing 563 bhp and 650 Nm of torque through AMG's SPEEDSHIFT 7 sport transmission reaching 100kph in a mere 3.7 seconds. If you keep your foot down (OK, if you insist), it will keep you pinned to the back of the seat all the way to 320 kph. Mercedes will cease production of the SLS in May 2014 so if you have AED 1,137,000 knocking about and you fancy making a sturdy investment, the SLS will soon become a collector’s item.
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Edition 507
Arguably the most accessible and popular choice of high performance AMG on the market. The Edition 507 pumps out an extra 50 bhp and 10 Nm of torque to make 507 bhp from the naturally aspirated 6.3 litre V8. Compared to the C63 AMG, a few subtle changes have been made inside such as the Alacantara covered steering wheel sporting the red band indicating the 12o'clock position.
The playful handling of the C63 has always been a key attribute and it just loves showing off on the track. Mercedes sophisticated traction control allows the rear to safely slip and slide without noticeably cutting too much power, although different driver modes are available to regulate exactly how much fun you want.
The C63 AMG Edition 507 is for sale in the UAE now and will cost AED 420,000, which can be justified by a respectable 4.2 seconds to 100kph and a limited top speed of 280kph. I am a massive fan of this car and for me it offers everything anyone would ever need in a car, it’s spacious and elegantly refined to make it comfy and quiet, yet with the flick of a few buttons it becomes a thunderous muscle car.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG
As far as the AMG family is concerned, the CLS is the big daddy; larger, higher-powered, much more sophisticated with a little less boy-racer noise. Oh, and it’s extremely fast! The strange thing is while the CLS has an extra 50 bhp and 110 Nm of torque over the C63, the CLS feels a little less perky. It’s mainly down to how the power is delivered, the 5.5 litre bi-turbo V8 engine has a much smoother power curve which gives a diluted concept of the speeds being reached. This 7 speed power house will propel you to 100 kph in 4.2 seconds (same as the C63) but the restricted top speed is only being 250 kph. This is puzzling as the high speed handling capabilities are exceptional, so why heavily restrict the top speed?
Considering the size of the CLS63 AMG the fun you can have behind the wheel is remarkable as generally, larger cars experience excessive understeer. However, the CLS does not have this affliction, the boffins at Mercedes should get a bonus. For a car of this calibre the price is a respectable AED 610,000.
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
Fitted with the same 5.5 litre V8 bi-turbo engine as the CLS63 AMG, both produce identical performance figures. We also had the chance to test it on the drag strip to understand exactly how quickly and effortlessly the twin turbo V8 accelerates. It’s an incredibly strong engine and the handling is very similar to the C63 overall. The E63 AMG is becoming a popular choice in the Middle East and rightly so. The luxury sedan segment is huge and with the E63 AMG having so many key features to help it remain at the top of its class, the success story won't come to an end any time soon. The price for this handsome luxury sedan is AED 578,000.
Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG
While wrongly regarded by many as the lesser version of the SLS, this little pocket rocket conceals something that not many people know. The SL63 has adopted the all aluminum body previously used by the SLS, lowering the overall weight to 1,845 kg and powered by a 5.5 litre V8 bi-turbo power plant under the hood which delivers astonishing straight line speed.
The handling is equally impressive; obviously the size of the SL63 AMG means it’s naturally going to be strong through the faster sections and gracefully allows all extremes of rear wheel action. Compared to the SLS, the SL63 is more sedate in the way it goes about its business, like I mentioned earlier in the CLS63 AMG review this new 5.5 litre V8 bi-turbo is not as aggressive as the naturally aspirated 6.3 litre engines, but provides more power. The sound of the bi-turbo spooling is more apparent in the smaller SL63 AMG and it's a very satisfying sound. On sale now in the UAE for AED 718,000.
Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG
This little AMG is a personal favourite and having never driven an A45 before the event, I had built up lots of anticipation to test the fully loaded AMG spec. Mercedes claim the A45 AMG is the most powerful production 2.0 litre engine ever produced with 360bhp, dispersing all the power through AMG4MATIC all-wheel drive evenly with 50:50 ratio and the SPEEDSHIFT 7 Sports Transmission.
So have we finally found a rival for the Mitsubishi Evolution? Definitely. The A45 AMG is much stronger in many different aspects and due to the relatively small platform the A45 is based on, it provides incredible responsiveness and agility through corners with an unforgettable instantaneous power surge once the accelerator is planted, thanks to the twin-scroll turbo charger. Another cool feature I liked was the valve in the exhaust that opens when accelerating which pops and bangs when upshifting. Then you have the sporty interior with lashings of red stitching on the seats flashing the AMG badge everywhere you look, a gentle reminder of the thoroughbred you’re in control of.
Overall the A45 AMG is easy to drive fast, maybe not as exhilarating as the rear-wheel cars, but as far as 4-wheel drive cars go, it’s at the top of the list. On sale now in the UAE for AED 269,000.