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Keep up with Aspi Bhathena as he makes his way through Rajasthan in high performance Mercs

After all the premium car makers launched their performance cars in India, it was now time for Mercedes-Benz to debut their performance AMG cars in the country. They zeroed in on the roads in Rajasthan to unleash the fire power. The drive for the print media was from Jaisalmer to Delhi but before we started, we were taken to the sand dunes outside Jaisalmer for some dune bashing. The previous day’s non-seasonal rainfall had made the dunes hard as the sand was soaked in rain water. Nonetheless, we had a great time doing some off-roading in the MLs before we could start our drive.
On day one, I was unable to get my hands on the AMG cars but I got to drive the S320 CDI from Jaisalmer to Fort Pokaran which was our lunch stop. I was not complaining even though I had driven this car earlier because the S320 is one of my all time favourite vehicles. Driving down the mostly straight roads of Rajasthan with hardly any traffic was a real delight. The S320 effortlessly cruises well in excess of 200km/h without any fuss or putting any pressure on the driver as it is so well planted on the road. Infact we were traveling at such a rate of knots that we passed the pilot car on our way to the lunch stop. I really enjoyed this drive because of the car’s sheer smoothness and comfort.

Post lunch it was time to get in the ML for my next stint. After the S320, I thought the ML would be quiet a letdown but the big SUV can cruise around 200km/h and not give you
the jitters. One would think that the car’s higher seating position and center of gravity would make it roll around corners but there were no such issues. My stint on the ML came to an end just short of Jodhpur. Up next was the C220 CDI from the outskirts of Jodhpur to Fort Khejarla. It was getting dark and we had to navigate our way through Jodhpur’s city traffic. I was quite happy to drive the smaller C-class through the crowded streets. This car might feel smaller than the ML and the S-class, but for its segment, it is big nonetheless.

On day two, I laid my hands on the CLS 63 AMG for the first time driving from Pushkar, half way to Jaipur. The exhaust note of the V8 engine reminds you that there is something very special under the hood of this car. In a blink of an eye, the car zips past the ton mark, going in excess of 200km/h in half the time as compared to say the S-class. The acceleration and braking of this car is great for the driver to feel but the passenger is constantly being pushed back into the seat on acceleration and bracing himself as he is flung forward under braking. You can make out the difference in response in the sport mode and the cruise mode. In the sport mode everything changes from the ride quality to the acceleration to the gear shifts.
My next drive was in the S65 AMG. The V12 biturbo engine’s exhaust note sends goose bumps down your neck when you blip the accelerator peddle. The S65 which costs Rs 2.67 crore is a completely different car compared to a standard S-class. The drive was quite short and I encountered a lot of traffic on the outskirts of Jaipur. But at the slightest lull in traffic, I could immediately feel the potential of this car. It could well be in excess of 220km/h before you have to come down heavily on the anchors.

M-class spinningThe drive from the outskirts of Jaipur to Delhi was in the SL65 AMG. The convertible SL’s exhaust note just wanted you to put your foot down and then shift down two gears just to hear the exhaust growl. This car accelerates like a superbike. You are literally pushed into the seat with the sheer acceleration and G forces. I had the opportunity of testing the car’s handling in a really weird way. Overtaking heavy traffic made the highway drive feel like a slalom course as I weaved my way through the slow moving trucks and buses.
Even if you saw a small gap between two vehicles you knew you had the acceleration to get you through before the gap closed. It was a great experience driving the AMGs but I would have preferred less traffic and slightly winding roads.


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