AMG Basic Training – Hockenheimring & Affalterbach Tour – July 7th 2015

Pie

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Video link at the bottom if you want to skip the words and just watch.
The engine start and revving you hear at the beginning is the C63S.
====================================================

So that's me just back from Germany where I took part in the AMG Basic Training package.
The whole event was exceptionally well organised from the Drivers arrival on the Monday to the actual track session the next day.


Coming from the North East of Scotland, there was no real way I was willing to pile on an additional 2000 miles to and from Hockenheim so I opted to fly over and hire an AMG C63S for the day – fortunately this was the best decision given the chaos that was unfolding at the Channel Tunnel during the week!

I would really have preferred to hire one of the 507’s that were previously available but with the new range of models using the 4.0L TT powerplant, the previous 6.2L’s had all been phased out.
No biggie, just meant I had the new C63S at my disposal to properly test out on the track to cast my opinion.


Day 1

We checked in at the Hotel which was only a 10 – 15 minute drive from Hockenheimring. Myself and my partner arrived early afternoon after spending the weekend in Frankfurt and the place was pretty empty.
We checked in and I had a wee afternoon nap whilst she watched the Tennis on iPlayer.
By the time I awoke closer to 5pm, the car park was bursting at the seams with all variants of AMGs!


The participants all met at the bar for a quick drink and introductions before we headed off for a short presentation covering the day ahead – at this point we were split into the English speaking group (4 of us) and the German speaking (30+)

Afterwards we all met outside in the courtyard to be welcomed by the AMG instructor team (comprised of past and present race car drivers) before more drinks and a BBQ.

Day 2

Participants made their own way to the track paddock for Driver Fitness checks (simple limb stretches) and a briefing for the day’s events.

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We were split into 6 separate groups with up to 8 cars in each group and allocated an instructor – who communicated to us via a handheld radio.
The English speaking group were put into Group 6 and I was driver number 3 in this group so I was car 6.3.


Very appropriate!

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The main rule for the day was the ESP was to remain on at all times unless you were instructed to switch it off (car control on the wet corner)

Within the day we had various driving activities to get through

·Brake & Avoid
Accelerate from standstill up to 120km/h, pass through a light beam (which triggered a red traffic light), stamp on the brakes as if it were an emergency stop and take evasive action under braking to drive round an imaginary obstacle (set of cones)


·Guided Driving (3 times)
Instructor took the lead and participants followed around the track for 3 or 4 laps, understanding brake points, apex etc. There was no overtaking allowed and you had to maintain a safe distance of 3 car lengths to the car in front.
For me this was slightly frustrating as I knew I (and the car) was capable of lapping faster but I could only go as fast as the car in front – whom on multiple occasions was a bit slow on the throttle. However a track day experience was not the point of this event (and the thought of a 2500 Euro excess for any damage also wasn’t very appealing!)


·Car Control
Learn the dynamics of the vehicle exiting a wet corner with ESP on, ESP in Sport mode and ESP completely off.


·Drag Race with Stopbox
Quarter Mile set of lights and a coned off area at the end of the straight. Go on green and stop within the box for the point – unfortunately on both occasions I left the braking a little late and ended up with the front half of the car outside the box.
Within our smaller group we had C63S v C63S and the GTS v A45.
Our instructor then went head to head with the GTS in his GTS to demonstrate Race Start mode vs normal start (There wasn’t much in it)


·Handling Parcours
Drive round a slalom section of track in the quickest time possible and stop in the coned section.
ESP had to be on to demonstrate how smooth driving can net you a better time.


·Race Taxi
One of the racing drivers took you on a hot lap of Hockenheim in the AMG GTS – this guys can do unthinkable things with the car – which was a factory road legal car barring the pair of bucket seats and race harnesses.

A brilliant day out, very well organised and we were fortunate enough to be caught in the middle of a mini heatwave sweeping across Germany that week so weather was spot on with a very sticky track.

C63S Review

As for the new C63, that engine and exhaust note is phenomenal – once the tuners start getting their hands on them and developing upgrades I can see upwards of 650Bhp.
Gear changes feel marginally faster than the previous box.


The Drive selector being relocated to a stalk on the RHS of the column was a little confusing to begin with but was easy enough to deal with once you got used to it.

Similarly, that iPad which they have stuck to the middle of the dash is not the prettiest thing to see but you do get used to it.

Carbon Ceramic brakes – for the environment I was using them I would never get tired of stamping on them all day, zero brake fade and the stopping power was unreal.
Externally, the car I hired was also treated to the full carbon pack (maybe this is standard on the C63S?)


Unfortunately I’m still not sold on the looks of car as a whole, it just doesn’t look nearly as aggressive as its predecessor. Perhaps they can do something with the facelift model when that finally comes along.

AMG Affalterbach
Next day – since I was in the area – I booked myself (and the Mrs) a private tour of the AMG Factory in Affalterbach.


Our guide was Gerhard – who said to just call him Gary.

In true AMG perfectionist style, he was very apologetic about them flying the wrong flag outside the main reception building and was immediately on the phone to somebody to find out what had happened.
Apparently when AMG customers arrive for a scheduled private tour, they fly the flag of that customer’s country, alongside the AMG one to welcome them. Really made no difference to me!

After a short history of how AMG came about and the story of the Apple Tree on the River we were taken over to the Engine Assembly Area.

First thing you are greeted with is the name plaques of all the Engine Techs, flanked either side by the various power plants they are responsible for building including the M156, M157 and the engine from the Pagani Huayra.

We were then taken down to see the Cold Testing area where the Tech here went out of his way to show us an engine being fitted up and tested – this guy was loving his job and insisted we come out of the designated walkway area and round to his workstation to see exactly what was involved!

We made a quick stop off at the Performance Studio where an SL65 Black Series was being serviced, a German lady customer’s G63 6x6 (ridiculous sized machine) was undergoing some interior modifications and an A45 was given a custom interior and exterior upgrade (unfortunately no photos allowed).

Lewis Hamilton’s SL65 Black Series was also apparently in for its annual service just days before. Perks of being an employee I guess!

So to surmise; the Driving Academy was an utterly brilliant experience but just a shame there are no UK tracks on their calendar.
AMG Factory tour is a must do if you are in the area.

Video compilation of the day
https://youtu.be/ksk4y74d7m8
 

DuncS3

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Nice video - I did my day back in Spa last year. Was your instructor called Norman?
 
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Pie

Pie

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Hi Dunc,
Spa was actually my first choice - so I could experience what its like to go flat out through Eau Rouge, unfortunately they only have one Spa date and this year it landed when I'm on holiday.

My instructor was a youngish German lad called Paul Muck.
 

DJM

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Sounds like fun. How much was the AMG Driving course?
 

DuncS3

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A great way to "test drive" the new C63s - I'm expecting mine in replacement for my 507 in September. Totally agree on the looks but I felt thendrive of the newer car had moved things on. Any external pics of your C63s from the day?
 

c_200k

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Sounds like a greadt couple of days

How much was this in total including flights etc as I'm in Scotland too so roughly is fine

Cheers
 
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Pie

Pie

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The Basic Driving course was actually something that was included with the sale of the Edition 507 but I seem to recall seeing it on the Options List at £2 - £2.5k?

You do get plenty other courses that they run but expect them to be a higher price.

I flew Aberdeen to Heathrow to Frankfurt and it only cost me £55 with BA Airmiles (courtesy of Tesco) covering the biggest chunk of the air fare.

Plan for £75 - £100 per night for accommodation (if you're staying longer pre and post track event)
Mercedes will put you up for the night before the event and feed you also. Lunch on the day is also provided.

For me, If I drove over it would have been 2000 miles from Aberdeen via Channel Tunnel so around 10 tanks of fuel.
The channel crossing would have been another £50 -£70.
I would have needed to consider track day insurance which was about £160 for the day - purely optional mind you but you have to weigh up the risk yourself.

Driving that sort of distance also means I had to factor in a full day of travel both ways which eats into my time off work!

For flying over I had to hire a normal car which was about £30 per day.

For the event itself you can hire the following:
A45 and CAL 45: 825 Euro
C63: 1225 Euro
E63 and CLS 63: 1275 Euro
SL63: 1725 Euro
AMG GTS: 1925 Euro

With the Euro currently giving good returns against the £ I was a little cheaper flying over and renting an AMG from them.
Plus as mentioned the thought of adding +2k miles to the engine didn't really appeal.

The other 'hidden' cost is in the inspection of your own car pre-track.
AMG supply a full support crew - 2 Artic trucks as well as a Dunlop support truck.
If your brakes or tyres are nearing the end of their useful life they'll insist you change the parts to ensure no issues on the track - you'll pay for the supply of brake pads and tyres but I would imagine the labour is free.
Some of the activities are quite heavy on the tyres and brakes so if you are borderline expect them to insist on new parts.

I do recall reading about DuncS3 managing to wangle a set of brake pads for free out of them when he went though!
 

acej

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Sounds like you had a great time.

They do these in the UK every now and again last year I did the exact same format at Rockingham.
 

Booyakajon

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Great write-up Pie. I am booked onto the September course at Spa and I will be taking my C63 507. Looking forward to it! Did you notice the state of the tyres afterwards?
 

DuncS3

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I had to pay for the brake pads in the end - they sent me an invoice :)

Based on my experience you won't ruin your tyres compared to a real track day but obviously you will add more wear.

I ordered the drivers pack on my new car specifically because you still get this event and at 750 odd quid on the S, this time it is much more attractive pricing wise than it was before. I thought it was a fantastic event.

I also heard that the UK can now run this events properly but I'm hoping to go to Spa again.
 

Twincharge

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Excellent video, thanks for sharing.
 

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