JUL 17th 2014

On track today: AMG out in force. Oh, and we got to try them all (17/07)

Phew, what a scorcher – and that’s just the cars on track today. On perhaps the hottest day of the year so far, the circuit has been inundated by Mercedes AMGs, which makes for an impressive sight – but truth be told a far more impressive sound. Boy these cars sound good. How appropriate it was such a beautiful summer’s day so windows could be open all across Sussex so everyone could savour a symphony of AMG music!

Before you ask, the new Mercedes-AMG GT – Merc’s answer to the 911 Turbo et al at £120k ish – was not there. Its unveiling is still a little way off. And also still under wraps is the new C-class AMG. Oh well, there are worse things – and the old C-class AMG Black Series was there, praise be…

My highlight? That C63 Black, the oldest car there by quite a long way. It surely has everything you look for in a car, including a naturally aspirated motor. After the others the incisiveness of the steering especially was breathtaking on Goodwood’s fast corners, and called for extreme smoothness. But get it right and it felt light on its feet in a way others did not.

You’d have one of these C63 Black Series cars as a keeper, if you could. It’s the last – and best – of a big-banger breed of AMG performance heroes. Production has now ceased but it’s good to know that the car in use today will be staying on Mercedes UK’s heritage fleet so we will be seeing it again.

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There was one other car with the much loved 6.2 lump under the bonnet, in even more powerful 582bhp form – the SLS Black Series, another car at the end of its life (the coming new GT is a smaller, more affordable replacement) but you’d never know that from the way David Coulthard took Goodwood apart in it. As well as being extremely quick the SLS is extremely large, and with the Goodwood grass always slippy this is not a car to get out of shape, though I did coax DC to at least turn off the traction control. DC’s own TC (his right foot) was much more satisfying…

Full interview with DC here.

Others for the press to drive at this annual AMG fest at the circuit? The fast expanding family of A-class AMGs – hatch, CLA coupé and just in, the ‘crossover’ GLA – showed what they can do on their 2.0-litre four-cylinder power. With an eye-watering 355bhp they can do quite a lot, with no traction worries (only cars here with all-wheel drive) and plenty of poise even though understeer, not normally an AMG trait, can intrude a little. Impressive overall, but I would have liked a little more meat to the steering and a tad more throttle-adjustability in the chassis.

SL, SLK, E and S were other letters on parade in full-fat AMG form – sports coupe, capacious wagon, luxury saloon or ultimate limousine, they all provided the required AMG-ness in feel and sound and, most of all, sheer honest to goodness grunt. The new A-class AMG family may be the driving force behind AMG’s soaraway sales – a record 32,000 worldwide last year – but it’s cars like this that define the essence of the brand.

And it was the mighty turbo-free 6.2 that you (or me at least) kept coming back to. This was a fitting farewell (if not goodbye…) to a great engine. Still the all-new 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 coming in the new GT and C-class AMG is meant to sound as good and will be as fast, if not faster (and a lot more efficient too).

Bring it on we say….

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