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Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG -
Dynamic Driving

Broadcast dates : 10th October  2004
14th October 2004

Last week Clint took us through the new Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG, discussing its luxury aspects and racetrack ability thatís astounding, considering itís a five-seater family sedan.

This week, still at Wesbank Raceway, Clint uses the C55 to explain certain dynamic driving techniques, as well as delving a little deeper into the Benzís amazing systems designed to act as a safety net for the driver.

The slalom test induces what is known as yaw and pitch in engineering terms. In plain English, this is where a car tends to rock from side to side and nose-dive at the same time as weight is thrown onto the front suspension.

The AMG treatment on the C55 controls this movement with much stiffer and shorter springs and firmer damping rates. The particular trick to the C55 set-up is that the very stiff springs somehow still impart a comfortable ride.

When Clint turns up the wick to a speed where there would normally be a degree of loss of control, the AMG-tweaked electronics come into play.

Known as ESP, or the Electronic Stability Programme, this systems works via electronic sensors on the body, the steering wheel column and the throttle to automatically "sort out" a skid.

When the car understeers, or loses traction at the front wheels, the ESP automatically brakes the outside rear wheel and the inside front, until the car is traveling in the direction signaled by the steering wheel angle.

Simultaneously the system backs off on the throttle, or accelerator, to restore control.

When the car is in an oversteering or rear-wheel-skidding attitude, the system brakes the appropriate front and rear wheels to get it into line, and again automatically reduces power to the rear wheels.

The Brake Assist System automatically applies maximum pedal pressure to the brakes, if sensors on the car detect an emergency-braking situation.

These sensors measure the speed of the brake pedal travel in its initial stages, or as soon as the driverís foot hits the pedal.

If the speed exceeds a certain limit, maximum braking force is applied.

The reason for this system is that accident studies have shown that most drivers initially hit the brake pedal very hard and then back off too much pressure to avoid locking the wheels.

The Brake Assist applies maximum pressure just short of wheel-lock up, using sensors on the brake discs.

Itís engineering in all aspects of the car that makes an AMG version such a marvelous tool for safe, quick, performance driving.

More power without attending to suspension, brakes and in todayís era, electronic driving aids, can make for a lethal cocktail.

The AMG C55 is quite possibly one of the finest road cars in the world right now, in terms of its overall mix of performance, handling and sheer class.

Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG
  • Engine: All-aluminium V8, 5 439 cc
  • Power:270 kW @ 5 750 rpm
  • Torque: 510 Nm @ 4 000 rpm
  • Transmission: Five-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 5,2 seconds (claimed)
  • Top speed: 250 km/h (limited) 
  • Fuel consumption: 15-16 litres/ 100 km (estimated)
  • Price: R585 000

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