A ride around Mercedes’ full Stuttgart test track proved more than a little surprising
I don’t need much reminding because what follows happened a matter of weeks ago. I am still
trying to understand it.
I was at a Mercedes track to test the W165 you’ll find on p80. After I’d driven the car, the circuit manager asked if I’d like to see the track.
“It’s OK, I’ve just driven around it.” “No, the full track.”
Keen to appear interested, snapper Matt Howell and I climbed aboard his elderly E-class estate and set off, our newfound chum gunning its clearly rather small diesel engine for all it was worth.
But the straight was long enough even for this car to accrue a three-figure speed, and as we steamed past the point I’d been turning off to lap the short circuit again, a very large wall hove into view.
It was an odd-looking wall — vertical and very high, but with stripes painted on it. I couldn’t see where the track went: we just kept hurtling towards this wall.
I’m not sure when I realised the wall was the track and the stripes were lanes, but not in time to prepare myself for what was to come. In an instant we were at 90 degrees, my eyeballs being sucked into my head and gurgling noises coming from my mouth. I once looped a Hawker Hunter and saw 4g on the dial, and while even Mercedes estates don’t come with g meters, this seemed like at least as much.
“Again?” asked my friend. I sent a ‘no thanks’ message from brain to mouth, and was disappointed to hear it say “yes please”. Knowing what was coming, the second lap was somehow worse. I tried to look down to see how far we’d fall if the tyres blew, or the engine packed up, but fortunately my neck no longer worked.
If you’d told me my most intense car experience without hitting anything would come in the passenger seat of a Merc estate, I’d have doubted your sanity. As it was the only sanity in question is my own for going back for seconds.