Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Power Corrupts, and that's fine.

We have a regular client, well, a trader really but he does snap up the occasional car for personal consumption. As with all well heeled traders who haven't had all the enthusiasm beaten out of them by now, if something interesting crosses the threshold he finds it hard to overcome temptation. He is going through the i-spy book, gradually ticking the boxes until he has experienced ownership of everything tasty on the menu.

One such vehicle was a CL65 AMG. This, for the uninitiated is an enormous two-door coupe based on the S-Class. Usually it has the same sort of eight-cylinder motivation you'd expect in what the Americans used to refer to as "Personal Luxury" cars. Some had the amplification turned up when AMG bolted on a couple of superchargers to make the CL55.

The CL65 however, was a wholly unnecessary extension of the theme. Here is a staid, elephantine barge of a car, unadorned other than some slightly gauche split-rim alloy wheels and a strafing of AMG badges. This subtlety is utterly incongruous with the hidden engineering beneath that begrilled, proto-Benz front deck. There are twelve cylinders, some turbochargers and intercoolers, a mass of pipework and wiring to keep it all in check, and a narrower choice of gears than lesser CLs, down from from seven speeds to five as, legendarily, the seven-speed box would be simply bricked if all 612hp were to be released in one go.

Up until early afternoon that day, I had never experienced a car in quite that sort of league. But I like to give my clients the illusion that it was nothing out of the ordinary. At no point must my customers get the impression that I'm going to go all giddy and schoolboyesqe over the prospect of driving a powerful or exotic car.

For me this is something of a problem, but doubtless other salespeople have less trouble. I, you see, am still an enthusiast. In fact, I put my hand up to still being completely besotted by the sensation of driving. And I am spoilt by the number of cars I have access to, but every once in a while I have an opportunity to drive a car about which I find impossible to conceal my excitement.

But, for me, The CL65 lives in that category which is beyond self-control and stifled emotions. A CL65, available widely on the used market for sub sixty thousand quid is, comparatively, not an expensive car. But owing to the fact that it is the most powerful normal car it has a special place in the rarefied atmosphere of my cars-which-make-me-go-silly list, along with blue chip choices like Zondas, F40s and the usual suspects. I made no attempt to bridle my lust for power, simply asking our trader friend for "a go".

The big black CL starts with a musical prelude. A great orchestral crash settling to an underlying, symphonic dirge. It sounds exactly like it would if you were to imagine a really powerful engine which isn't entirely refined, Some of that mechanical edge is left there to remind you what you're controlling. And it is just as well, as you are conscious that you need to re-calibrate your inputs. Pedal travel is briefer, more digital. A dose of throttle badly handled will send you into the back of the car in front.

On my three minute test drive, part of me wanted to drive normally to see what it felt like in a six hundred horse-power car. And to start with, ham-fisted inputs apart, this is what I did.  I didn't give it the beans until I had already reached motorway speed. Here, I sidled up next to a 530d which was in the process of overtaking one of the many bewildered looking Kia drivers you see in Essex. His throttle was open and as I matched his speed I twitched my big toe and the horizon exploded. I can honestly say that, Busch Gardens apart, I have never experienced this sort of mid-range go, the accompanying BMW looked like it had hit a bridge abutment. It hadn't, but was a very,very long way behind me.

When I handed the key back it was with a sigh of contentment. It was rare moments like these which act to fuel my passion, and allow me to calmly drive home at soothing, almost legal speeds after work. One day I may leave the motor trade, after then I imagine I will probably start approaching people in the streets and asking them if I can have "a go."

1 comment:

  1. lucky you,

    I'd love to "have a go" at so many cars,

    sadly, I don't have the rich friends or clients...

    this almost made me open youtube and search for CL65 exhaust note

    thank you