The Scorpio has been one of my favorite cars of all
time, but with 117,000 miles on the clock and some major engine work just
completed after a snapped timing chain, it was time to look for a replacement.
Don't worry, the Scorpio has not been sold, but it's gone into semi-retirement
as my father has taken it over (and he just loves it) on the understanding that
it's looked after and I get it back eventually.
With the power of the Cosworth
engine having etched itself on my soul forever and the comfort of leather
armchairs, I needed something that would excite me every time I drove it and yet
have the comfort for long distance traveling. I also wanted something that would
not stand out too much from the crowd and so I quickly discounted such cars as
the BMW M3, Mitsubishi EVO and the Subaru Imprezza - they were fast yes, but
they either looked OTT or were the sort of car that would be ideal for a track
day but hard to live with every day.
I am fortunate that I can consider vehicles way outside of my ability to
purchase as I can use contract hire and offset the costs against the business. I
considered that a Mercedes would be on a par with the Scorpio although I wasn't
sure just how 'dynamic' they would be - I hadn't looked at the more recent
The local dealers had a beautiful CLK coupe in Silver in the showroom and I
liked the look of it. I have to admit that although I new the AMG name, I wasn't
fully aware of what it stood for, just assuming that it was a go faster
AMG used to be an independent conversion house, taking brand new Mercedes out
of the showroom and building special order versions for wealthy customers. More
recently they have been purchased by Mercedes who now own 51% of the company and
the AMG versions of the models are now official Mercedes cars. All of the AMG
conversions start by removing the standard engine and replacing it with an AMG
developed 5.4 litre V8. In the CLK this is normally aspirated and develops 367
bhp whereas in the larger models (CL, E and S and the SL sportscar) it is
supercharged (Kompressor in AMG speak) and develops up to 500bhp. They also
produce a 3.2 litre V6 used in the C class and SLK.
AMG then take the standard suspension and uprate it, add much larger brakes
and wheels and firm up the ride as a result.
The result is simply awesome. Imagine the Scorpios 2nd gear acceleration
between 50 and 70mph happening in 4th gear between 100 and 120mph and you will
get some idea of just how powerful these cars are. It's not just the power
though, it's the torque that they develop which means being able to accelerate
at incredible rates in any gear and at any speed.
The gearbox is a 5 speed automatic with manual control via the now obligatory
F1 style buttons on the steering wheel. It also offers a clever feature called
SpeedShift. Hold the gear lever over to the left for a couple of seconds and the
box works out the best gear for your current speed. The box then will not then
go up a gear until you reach the rev limiter or you move it out of SpeedShift -
this is ideal for fast country driving where 3rd is the gear that you need for
best acceleration up to highly illegal speeds.
Obviously such a brutal engine would normally demand great respect,
especially in the wet. However the AMGs are almost foolproof with a new traction
control system called ESP. TC in the Scorpio detects wheelspin in the rear
wheels and applies the ABS to the spinning wheel and/or cuts the engine power.
ESP uses the ABS sensors along with gyroscopes and a measurement of the steering
wheel angle to determine wheel slip during cornering. If it detects understeer
it applies the ABS brake to the front wheel on the inside of the turn,
effectively pulling the front end tighter, if it's oversteer then it does the
opposite pulling the rear end tighter. It's a very clever system that is almost
impossible to catch out under any circumstances!
Anyway, you can probably tell that I love the car and it's a fitting
replacement for the Scorpio, so here are a few pictures.