Last month AMG invited us to have a go in their latest models at Zolder. It proved to be a fun day with a surprising rematch.

Waking up to pouring rain on a track day certainly makes you a little bit nervous. Fortunately, when I arrived and was given the timetable I found out that my AMG track sessions took place in the afternoon where the weather forecast was noticeably better.

The World Of AMG

The first stop was a quick history lesson by AMG Brand Manager Sven Van den Bruel how 2 guys from Affalterbach started the company and how it grew throughout the years to what it has become today. He explained the key assets of an AMG model, the different levels of performance in their line-up and also a few cool facts. For example, there are 20 engineers working exclusively on how the car should sound. Guess we can all agree that they are doing a pretty good job!

Race Taxi

Whilst it was still pouring rain, it was time to hop in the AMG GT4 race taxi driven by Nico Verdonck for some hot laps. The grip this beast has, even in the rain blows your mind. The sound of the V8 combined with the straight cut gearbox goes right through everything. And each time Nico hit the brakes, my neck would snap off. Amazing experience and thanks to Nico Verdonck for the ride!

Scenic Tour

Our AMG filled day continued with a scenic tour on public roads. Together with my friend Tom from AMG in years we swapped seats at every stop. I started in the AMG S 63 Convertible. A car that shows how powerful luxury actually can be. From there on we I the G 63 and the GT Convertible through the northern parts of Flanders. Whilst Tom drove the E 53 Convertible and the SLC 43. A car that surprised both of us by how fun it drives. Perhaps the age of this models shows how engaging older cars are. We’re sad to see it going away.

Performance Tracktime

After a good lunch, it was time to hit the track. As it began to dry up, a few of AMG’s out of 63 line-ups were waiting for us. I started my track reconnaissance in the C 63. Despite being only RWD, it showed great grip in the greasy conditions.
The GLC 63 was also part of the convoy and it’s a powerful piece of kit. It handled quite well on track but you can tell it’s out of its comfort zone. And with the help of our driving instructor, I’m already falling for the charm and potential behind these creatures from Affalterbach.

GT Tracktime

Now onto the big boys and we start with a rematch because we’re hopping in the exact same GT 63 S as we drove back in March. It brought back the memories and now driving on summer tires, it feels even better. And as we said before, considering you’re able to carry a B-Class trunk full of stuff and fit 4 people (optionally 5) inside, it’s a weapon. On the big bumps on the track, it did became apparent that we’re still talking about a 2-tonne car so occasionally it jumped.
The GT R, however, is a completely different animal. It turns in like nothing in the AMG range and the way the front wheels communicate with you through the wheel. You can feel everything that’s happening. The rear just hooks on corner exit and that V8. God, it sounds like it sits next to you. It’s an exhilarating piece of machinery to drive and it’s still hard to wrap my head around how good this is.
And this really showed how much difference there still is between the 2 and 4-door GTs. I’d love to have the steering feel from the 2-door in the 4-door so hopefully, that’s coming in a facelift.

Agility-X

In between the hard track hammering there was a little competition planned. And this time it doesn’t involve an AMG. Because this is all about driver skill. A tight road course with various wide and sharp corners on different levels of grip. So an A 200 was the weapon of choice. Mess up during your timed lap? That meant a time penalty. At the end of the day, the top 3 drivers received a prize so you can imagine everyone was being very competitive.

Entry Performance Tracktime

Last but definitely not least were the “entry level” AMG’s. Actually, they don’t like to call it that in Affalterbach. Because it gives the feeling as the cars aren’t true to all the AMG values. They’re not like that.
The A 35 is a toy to play with. Being so light and a short wheelbase give this car so much potential. You’ll actually have to push it quite hard before it understeers. It’s the perfect introduction to the AMG-universe.
The C 43 might have 2 fewer cylinders but make no mistake. The lighter V6 compared to the V8 in combination with 4matic makes the power extremely accessible. Also, the V6 is a musical masterpiece making it even more fun. Thank you, sound engineers of AMG.

And on that note…

It’s time to return all the keys and head home. The day flew by and my mind is still taking in and reliving all the different experiences of today. You’d think that in such a wide product range, even AMG would get lost from time to time. But every car I drove had me like: “Damn, how do they do it?” And: “Can I sell my kidney for this one please?”
I want to thanks Mercedes-Benz Belgium and AMG for inviting me to this amazing event. I’m off to the configurator now to choose which one I want to own most and in what color.