TrackWorthy - Mercedes-AMG TrackMonsters

Sampling Mercedes-AMG Track Monsters at the AMG Performance Tour

by TrackWorthy,

TrackWorthy - Mercedes-AMG TrackMonsters
Mercedes-AMG is celebrating 50 years of turning understated road-cars into track monsters. Founded in 1967 by Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher (AMG stands for Aufrecht , Melcher and Aufrecht ‘s birthplace, Grossaspach), Mercedes now offers more than 40 different AMG-branded sedans, coupes, convertibles and SUVs with 6 different engines and 6 different transmissions. And Canadians can’t get enough of these cars. Canada is the third largest AMG market by volume in the world behind the United States and Germany, which is very telling because Canada is the tenth largest automobile market in the world. One in four Mercedes sold in Canada is an AMG version.

It is not possible to fully appreciate the performance capabilities of these vehicles on public roads, at least not legally. To begin to understand what these cars and SUVs are engineered to do, one must head to the nearest race track and unleash these beasts. And that’s what we did, spending a day participating in the AMG Performance Tour at a new race track on Vancouver Island.


THE CIRCUIT

The Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit is about one hour north of Victoria in the picturesque province of British Columbia. The circuit refers to itself as a “motorsports playground” and Canada’s only year-round motorsport facility. It was designed by famed Formula 1 race track designer Hermann Tilke and opened in 2016. The full circuit is comprised of 19 turns over 2.3 kms and covers about 300 feet of vertical elevation on each lap.
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AMG PERFORMANCE TOUR

The AMG Performance Tour program has been around for almost 10 years and gives Mercedes-Benz dealerships the opportunity to invite guests to patriciate in the program at no charge to the participants. This differs from the AMG Driving Academy, which is a customer paying program and open to everyone, including non-Mercedes owners. The driving instructors, many of whom have racing experience, are exclusive to AMG driving events and have been trained by AMG.
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“The AMG Performance Tour is a customer program where we bring customers from all over Canada and they get to experience some really great cars,” said Danny Kok, Chief Driving Instructor at the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy. “It is an experiential program. We have the C63 AMG S, AMG GT R, S Coupe, SL 63 AMG. We have some wonderful cars for them to experience. Really what we want to do is teach them the basics of driving on a race track in a nice, safe environment on this nice, safe track that we have just outside of Victoria, BC.”

Participants stay at the exquisite Villa Eyrie Resort in Malahat, which is about 30 minutes from the track. Once at the track, the day starts off with a quick breakfast followed by a short classroom presentation. The extremely friendly and knowledgeable AMG team discuss the different vehicles that will be driven that day, some of the technology that these vehicles feature, and how to drive the cars on the track, autocross and off-road course. Then the participants are split in two groups; one group heads out onto the track, the other goes off-roading, and then they switch later in the morning.

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After lunch, participants are again split into two groups, one goes back onto the track for more lapping, the other goes to the autocross course which consists of pylons laid out in the large paved lot adjacent to the track. The only competition of the day are timed runs on the autocross to see who can complete the course successfully in the shortest amount of time. The day wraps up with ‘race taxi’ laps, where participants are treated to a few hot laps in the passenger seat with instructors putting in some hot laps in the AMG cars around the circuit.

The circuit is quite short, complex and offers lots of elevation change. In ‘follow the leader’, each driver has the opportunity to follow the race instructor’s car to begin to learn and understand the proper racing line. After a few laps, the pace begins to pick up, the cars’ exhausts start to emit better and louder sounds and the smiles on the driver’s faces get bigger and bigger.

What is even more fun is participating in the autocross. At your disposal are two Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupes and a lot of indestructible orange cones. As is typical of AMG cars, the C 63 S Coupes are so understated that when you get behind the wheels and accelerate, brake and corner as hard as you can, you are left mystified at how impressively these cars can handle everything you can throw at them and they are ready for more.

Of the dozen or so cars we sampled, the GT R Coupes and C 63 S Coupes were our favorites of the day.

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2018 MERCEDES-AMG GT R COUPE

The GT R has an incredible sounding 585 hp twin-turbo V8 engine, mated to an AMG Speedshift DCT 7-Speed Sports transmission, which will launch the car from 0-100 km/h in just 3.6 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 318 km/h. The base GT R starts at $183,000. If you tick all of the option boxes when you build this car, including some of the bigger ticket items such as the carbon ceramic brake system, Green Hell MAGNO exterior paint, Burmester surround sound system and exterior carbon trim, you can shoot the MSRP up to more than $235,000. This car, in this colour, is absolutely guaranteed to attract attention, and make the driver feel like every outing, whether on the road or the track, is a special drive. And rightly so. This is a rare and exotic supercar, which is surprisingly easy to tame on the track.
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2018 MERCEDES-AMG C 63 S COUPE

Coming down to earth a bit is the $86,300 C 63 S Coupe. Its 510 hp 8 Cylinder engine is hooked up to an AMG Speedshift MCT 7-Speed Sports transmission which can achieve 0-100 km/h runs in just 3.9 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 290 km/h (with the optional AMG Driver’s Package). Tick all of the boxes on this car’s option list, including carbon ceramic breaks, and you can pass the $110,000 mark. As much as we absolutely loved the GT R, the C 63 S Coupe is a car that anyone could easily live with as a daily driver. Its elegant and subtle styling cues mislead. This is a true performance car in every respect.
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CONCLUSION

Programs like these are very effective at building brand loyalty and enthusiasm for everything that is AMG. And in this case, there is a lot to be enthusiastic about. Very few car manufacturers offer such a wide range and variety of performances cars and SUV’s that look, feel and sound this aggressive. Unleashing them on a race track enables the drivers to begin to understand how capable these cars are. And it will do that by putting a big smile on each participant’s face and leave them with a very positive lasting memory. Consider yourself very lucky if you are one of the 200 or so Canadians asked to participate in this program each year. Not only will you come away from this with a new appreciation for the capabilities of these vehicles, you will also likely impress yourself with your newfound and heightened driving capabilities.
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