Spending 48 Hours With AMG At The 24 Hours Of Nürburgring

NÜRBURG, Germany – Twenty minutes and 30 seconds. That was the time of my lap around the Nürburgring’s famed 20.8-kilometre-long Nordschleife circuit in a 603-horsepower Mercedes-AMG E63 sedan. That’s just a lifetime off the eight minutes, 15 seconds of the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG003 race car that took pole position for this past weekend’s running of the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, which comprises the Nordschleife and the five-km-long Grand Prix track. But hey, I was a rookie!

It was also a parade lap with a bunch of other AMG vehicles, both past and present. You know: Follow the car ahead. No passing. No weaving. A maximum of three lengths behind. Keep your windows closed, that sort of thing. I don’t think the E63 touched 100 km/h. OK, it wasn’t a bucket list drive, but I’ll take it.

As for the reason? Mercedes-Benz is celebrating 50 years of AMG, the once-small independent tuner and racing firm that became a whole lot bigger (1,600 employees) as the automaker’s performance and sports car division. There are now some 50 of the automaker’s models — from compact A-Class to the uber-ute G-Wagen — that wear the AMG badge. Last year, just a bit fewer than 100,000 performance-enhanced cars and SUVs were sold, including 6,723 in Canada at a “take rate” of 16.6 per cent.

It is also the 90th anniversary of the Nordschleife, also known as the Green Hell, thanks to Formula One world champion Jackie Stewart’s description of the forest-lined circuit. And AMG’s history is intertwined with the track and the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, including a win in 2013 with the SLS AMG GT3 and last year’s podium sweep courtesy of the AMG GT3. There’s also the real-world testing that goes on at the circuit.