We would like to thank the team at Mercedes-Benz Wellington ( 75 Cambridge Terrace) for inviting myself and Tom along to a very special customer event that would give us an insight into the life of an AMG owner – AMG Drive Day.
As far as Wednesday’s go, this one started out better then most. Arriving at the Mercedes-Benz Wellington dealership to find a mouth watering fleet of AMG’s, ready to show us what dark secrets the infamous AMG badge is all about. Before us lay 6 sleeping beasts, two C63 AMG Coupes, two C63 AMG Sedan’s, a C63 AMG Wagon and an ML 63 AMG SUV. The plan was simple, each group gets an AMG, we make our way out of Wellington, up and over the Rimutaka’s to Martinborough to where we would stop for lunch at Tirohana Estate. After which we swap around AMG’s and make our way back up and over the Rimutaka’s to Wellington.
We have introductions to the rest of the group, a small briefing about the route, they asked us to pick a vehicle. I was going to drive the first leg and chose the white C63 AMG Wagon. Why the wagon, well this particular C63 is widely know to have a unique membership, held by a select few of Germany’s continent crushing super wagons. I have heard a lot of talk about them and wanted to know first hand what the hype was all about.
Crammed under the bonnet is a 6.3 litre naturally-aspirated V8 engine, that produces 336 kW and 600 Nm of torque. And when all of this power is called upon it can launch its 1800kg from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and will max out at 250 km/h. One turn of the key on this model, push button on some of the other C63’s, the V8 roared into life mixed with a subtle muscle car gurgle from the exhaust, a sound that is hard for any enthusiast not to like.
The interior is as expected of such a high grade luxury vehicle, leather tastefully mixed with brushed aluminium inlays, the seats where very comfy and had really good lateral support which almost seemed to grip on to you when we got into the hills. There were more than enough controls to adjust almost anything you wanted within the cabin. The only thing I was a bit against was the old style suv foot brake pedal and release which seemed to not blend with the rest of the cars hi-tech look and feel.
The million dollar convoy all roared into life like some sleeping beast and we headed out of Wellington, all very eager to test out our AMGs over the Rimutaka’s ranges. The sun was reaching high into the skies and luck was on our side, the stretch up was relatively free of traffic which allowed us to stretch the legs of our V8’s. With the windows down and the sunroof back all we could hear was 6 AMG’s echoing though the valley as they carved up the windy road that laid ahead.
The C63 AMG wagon held its own against the coupe’s and sedan’s, we had thought the extra weight may give it a slight handicap, but if it did we didn’t notice it. The grip from the continental sport tyres never seemed to end. The power kept coming from the rear and never once over the hills did it feel like it was about to break fee into some drifting internet video review. The steering was light and easy to control while still being very precise, the C63 AMG seemed to only suffer by the limits of my own skills.
Once reaching the Tirohana Estate our fleet rested in a light breeze that had a slight bouquet of warm rubber and brakes pads, all AMG’s wearing clearly visible signs that they have been out for a good run. It was now time for our group to refuel and as we enjoyed the Tirohana hospitality.
The Tirohana Estate put on a great lunch, the food and wine was as impressive as the AMG’s that brought us there. After 3 lovely courses and some light conversation, it was time to get back at it and hit the road back home to Wellington.
We all switch vehicles and drivers, and stood around spoiled for choice of what we should try next. Tom was going to be at the wheel for the trip home, and was curious to know if the massive ML 63 was worthy of carrying the AMG badge.
Interior was spacious and comfortable, seating, entertainment and climate all very well looked after and integrated well. A few cosmetic trims were a little odd and maybe it was just the optional package chosen for this particular car. I could drive this car across the country and feel as fresh as the moment you set off, its just that well laid out and put together.
Active curve system in the suspension flattened out corners considerably, and really helped move the weight through the vehicle with zero roll and even acceleration.The engine being a V8 biturbo with 386kw was very humble and didn’t try to make it’s presence get out of hand. Gear shifts smooth with the choices of comfort and sports, with manual paddle shifter giving you more room to choose the power.
The majority of the noise made its way from turbos spooling or the loud cracks when shifting down from third gear, but compared to the C63s we were following, the ML63 was the less agro. We were both impressed at how the ML 63 AMG had no trouble in keeping up with the C63’s as all that power drowned out its 2 and a half ton weight.
When we got up and over the Rimutaka’s we rejoined the early signs of rush hour traffic and settled into a more relaxed pace. All the AMG’s handling comfort in ease, and seemed like they would make the day to day a very enjoyable experience. The only issues you might find are trying to control yourself, knowing all that power lies under the bonnet waiting to be unleashed.
Once back at the Mercedes-Benz dealership, Tom and I were left very impressed with all of these AMG’s and found it very hard to not like them. The downsides of being an AMG seemed few, bar the obvious that come hand in hand with vehicles of this spec. High performance tyre wear and fuel consumption, higher with the naturally aspirated V8’s of the C63’s while the twin turbo ML 63 was the most fuel efficient over the entire trip. Althought if you’re out looking for a high performance vehicle these issues seldom pop up on your must check list. All in all these AMG’s left us wanting more.