I will not bash Mercedes anymore (I love E63!).

September 5, 2010


What happens when two nutcase auto engineers combine their engine tuning prowess? If the two are German and their interest happens to be modifying run of the mill Mercedes engine blocks into performance monsters, you eventually end up creating a successful tuning company. Many have known the AMG for decades primarily because of their insanity. The AMG division is known for pushing the limits of performance and then pushing it a little further making the cars coming out of their boilers bitter sweet. They are just as punishing for a newbie as they are rewarding for a seasoned driver. Most AMG parts also scream insanity from the outside itself. Flared wheel arches, low ground clearance body kit, super big rear spoilers, bright ceramic brake calipers that has AMG written in big capitals, AMG chrome lettering on every inch of the body work. It is quite a bit difficult to convince your better half to be present in the co passenger’s seat with that amount of insanity. Otherwise she has to be Angelina Jolie in Gone in 60 seconds which is unlikely for most of us.

Obnoxiously Muscular, Just like an AMG.

The AMG has nothing subtle about the way they do their business. Unlike the R versions of the Jaguar or the older M sports division BMWs, the AMGs have never heard of the word understatement. There is an exception to every rule though in this world. I have come across the AMG exception of screaming out loud on top of your lungs rule in America. As part of my recent expedition to California, I have discovered a bunch of new and forbidden fruits that are yet to be in the Indian market. I love the Cadillac CTS-V with its insane Corvette engine sitting to break free from its engine harnesses. Also I love the new Ford Sync that comes with all new Ford cars. They are such an intuitive feature and so natural to operate that you wonder why other car makers have not adopted something like the Sync. Tired of being called the fat boy in the car manufacturing world the American car market is undergoing a flurry of innovations and improvements that there is no other better time to be a car buff to visit America. The Honda has been quietly experimenting with their biblically complicated and revolutionary FCX Clarity that is going to change the way we see fuel and fuel cells. Then the F-150 raptor, a truck built with Americans in mind but can do some real world off roads too. Yet the F-150 is a breathtakingly beautiful beast to look at. Yes, I am excited about a lot of things and it shows in my words.

Looks just like an E-Class

But what I am more excited is the ‘AMG exception to its own rule’ E63 sedan. The car looks like any other E-Class. Slightly boring, but with the updated twin trapezoid head lamps it adds a certain  flair to its otherwise staid design. The rear looks a lot like somebody from Saab designed it. Very boring there too! But if you look closely there is a badge that says AMG. I am aroused immediately, and so much so that I wanted to drive her right away.

Naturally aspirated hand crafted AMG 6.2L V8.

Do not be fooled by the plane Jane looks. There is more than what meets the eye. She packs a punch under her belly too. The machine is powered by a beautiful handmade 6.2L V8 naturally aspirated power plant with a rated output of 518bhp and a torque of 628 Nm. This can propel her from 0-100 in 4.4 sec. The maximum speed is limited to a  250 km/h. If you manage to take off the limiter then the E63 will manage to clock 300kmph.

Wet Clutch and a 7 speed AMG Auto box - Pure automotive nirvana.

What makes the E63 exceptional is its transmission.The AMG engine is mated with a superlative wet clutch linked 7 speed AMG MCT Speedshift automatic gearbox that can shift gears in 100milli seconds. This gearbox has the reflexes of a fly. You wiggle your fingers and it has already found the right cogs, just as simple as that. The other surprise is the rev matched down shifts. It is what an automatic gearbox should be in any car period. The gear box is comparable to the GTR, and you are getting this in a four door sedan with air conditioner, massaging seats and HD Radio.

Coils up front, Self leveling air cushions in the rear - Mix'n Match.

The AMG did some hard soul searching before they came up with the suspension design for E63. It delivers some of the most interesting combinations of technology in any car currently available. Many of us already know the air suspension will make a car smoother but less amenable to direction changes than a coil spring one. To circumvent the issues of dynamic performance, what AMG has done is the oldest trick in the world. Mix and match. The front carries independent coil springs and a McPherson strut. The rear end features an air suspension setup. It is very much similar to the Jaguar XJ’s way of approaching the balance between comfort and dynamic performance.

Cornering is fun too!

AMG oversized brakes to tame the 518bhp monster V8.

This Mercedes just loves corners. In the AMG mode the ESP allows a little bit of kicking the tail out fun too, although very well nannied. This E63 is a very well balanced automobile engineering. It’s beautiful AMG engine goodness is complemented with a brilliant AMG Speedshift gearbox, a very well thought out suspension setup and extremely precise handling controls. This car also is very subtle in its AMG logo placements.

Nice Work Mercedes.

What Mercedes has done here with the AMG E63 is create the best driving package. There are no ruining moments with the E63, but something more than that. It is a very intelligently made car, and Mercedes was never in this league ever before. It is still a bonkers of a car and I am very sure twenty or thirty years down the lane people will see this AMG as a classic. For now though it is a Mercedes that I want to buy.

Verdict: Bravo, Mercedes is back in the game. They have an M5 killer with the new AMG E63. This car has stopped my Mercedes bashing bout.


BMW M5: The category bench mark. A tough act to beat. The car is just perfect as it is.

Jaguar XF-R: Gorgeous exteriors, Brilliant Jaguar AJ-V8 Gen 3 Supercharged engine, Comparable performance to an M5 and a bit easier on the pocket when you actually use the car. Keep an eye on the histrionic electricals and interiors though.

Video: The International Engine Awards 2010 featuring the new 6.2L AMG E63 Mercedes Benz.


Volkswagen Vento (Polo Sedan) Review.

August 22, 2010
Ivan Hirst

Ivan Hirst.

In September 1949 a sealed envelope came addressed to a British REME Officer named Ivan Hirst which rewrote the history of industrial production in Germany. Earlier that year Officer Hirst found an ingenious way of using a bombed out factory to address the shortage of light vehicles for the transportation requirements of the British Army stationed in Germany. This dilapidated production facility later went on to become a symbol for the entire Germany. It became immediately clear after the long and immensely perilous war, the German people were ready to move on from a flawed ideology that scarred their country as well as their day to day lives to build a better future for their country and their children. The morale and resilience of the post-war Germany reflected among the people who worked for this facility. They built cars in a building with no roof. The cars they built were better than the ones produced by the workers working in an intact roofed factory in Bristol or Detroit.

Volkswagen Berlin Factory.

Hard Work.

The modest products churned out by a war ravaged country became a sudden rage all around the world. The cute little machines were tough, reliable and cheap. But the people behind those elegant products did not have everything on their plates. Even after six months going into producing cars at a rate of 1000 per month which was impressive even by today’s standards, the car factory had to rely on a barter system where they sold newly finished cars for steel. For a nation with an economy that was predominantly run on American cigarettes, this factory became an inspiration for people who believed in a better future.

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Jaguar is a friend of mine (Jenny was!)

June 26, 2010
Dreams of a British Engineering Tradition

Bentleys were in my dreams.

There is an interesting recurring dream of mine involving British Green and sheer engineering perfection. The basic theme goes on like this: Me gifting my father the keys of a British engineering perfection on his birthday. The initial dreams involved Jaguars, but then somehow the name Bentley crept in. The reason for the Bentley’s replacing the Jags was after me seeing the two-door Bentley draped in British Racing green.The Bentley looked absolutely stunning. From then on Bentleys became a permanent fixture in my dreams and the most recent one was one with a British Racing Green Continental GT.

McPherson Strutting

McPherson Strutting.

All of a sudden something amazing has happened to me in the past few months. I am smitten, I am in love, I am bowled over, I am trembling in boyish excitement, I have spent some time with the all new 2010 Jaguar XJ. The car is pure automotive perfection. The design is timeless. The pictures are only half the truth. In person XJ is a stunning piece of engineering. Take one look and you fall in love. The subtle yet modern design cues make this car so unique and so breathtakingly beautiful. I know right from my boyhood days that I am a Jagaurphile. The cars they made were so much in line with my intuition about cars. Somewhere along the line we grew apart. But after spending time with the XJ, it rekindled the old love and that too with great passion.

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