Wednesday, 11 July 2012

AMG Experience at MB World, Brooklands

AMG experience (Brooklands)

I decided to visit MB World and try out the AMG experience for a couple of reasons - firstly, I had an AMG at the time and never felt comfortable to push it to its limits on the road, and secondly, I wanted more than just a few laps around a track, which is what I'd previously experienced on 'supercar' days.

I booked for the AMG experience (AMG Experience) which means you pretty much get whatever car you're given, although you can make a request for a particular model if you choose. Other options at the time included the CLS AMG experience (60 minutes for an additional £60) and the SLS experience (half day for £600).

I paid £150 for the day which was a winter discount from the normal price of £200. That included 60 minutes driving with one to one tuition. Access to MB World is free anyway and it makes sense to ensure you have enough time to enjoy that too. MB World alone is a great place with lots of interesting cars, loads more AMGs you can sit in, and a few interactive experiences too. The customer service was also superb throughout the whole time, be it in MB World or for the AMG experience - I felt very well looked after. There's also a decent little cafe, and an indoor circuit with electric cars for younger children.

Next door (5 mins walk) is the Brooklands Museum where you can see lots of cars, bikes, buses and aeroplanes. Highlights for me were Concorde and sitting in a Harrier Jump Jet :).

Anyway, on to the driving. I drove an E63 AMG estate. A large, but very powerful car (525bhp). I guess ideally I would have preferred something a little smaller and lighter, but to be fair it didn't feel like a big and heavy car when I got driving it.

There are four main driving sections: dry acceleration and braking; wet braking and handling; wet skid circle; and the dry handling circuit.

First up dry acceleration and braking. Various renditions of: accelerate as hard as possible no launch control; with launch control; hard braking ESP off from 70mph; hard braking ESP on from 70mph; using auto; using flappy paddles. All good fun and if you're not used to fast cars, don't be nervous, just bury the accelerator to the floor and jump on the brakes as hard as you can as the car really won't flinch :).

Next, wet handling. In a straight line brake with and without ESP on. Pull out from a junction ESP on and off. Acceleration ESP on and off. It was amazing to experience how good the ESP was - quite incredible at correcting the car.

Then, the wet skid circle. My favourite! Basically, you learn to drift the car around the wet circle. I'd sat in the cafe and watched others before me fail so was not too optimistic, but boy was I determined to power slide this thing Top Gear stylie! It was amazing. The instructor was superb and I learnt how to use both the steering and throttle to control the slide. We built it up bit by bit, and by the end I managed one and a half continuous circuits sideways. Chuffed? You bet!

So, finally the dry circuit. A great tight twisty circuit where you can really get the tyres screeching. My instructor let me push the car as hard as I was able and I had an absolute blast throwing around this huge 500+Bhp AMG! Happy days.

We still had time left so he asked what I'd like to do and I decided to stay on the circuit (I thought I'd quit on the wet skid circle whilst I was ahead!).

The only disappointment on the day was at the end when I learned that the in car recording had failed. So I'm sorry but I have no video to show you :(.

Overall it was a brilliant day out. The staff were superb, the venue first class, the car outstanding and the 60 minutes of varied driving unforgettable. It's a great alterative to the usual circuit based 'supercar' experiences - not only will you get more time behind the wheel but you'll learn more about car control too.

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