Darren Cassey 10 years ago

A Whole New (Mercedes-Benz) World

The Mayans predict the world will end on December 21st. In case they’re right, CT went down to Brooklands to check out Mercedes-Benz World, because we might need somewhere new to live

Remind me later
As a petrol head, your friends and family will agonise over what to get you this Christmas. They don’t know or care about cars, and are forced to choose between crappy Ferrari memorabilia or the latest Top Gear DVD. Unless they get creative and check out CT's ultimate Crimbo list you’ll probably end up with a Lynx Africa gift box... So how can you avoid the fake smiles and insincere thanks? Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands is the answer. Built within the grounds of the famous Brooklands Motor Circuit, it’s a car nut’s wet dream. With handling circuits, the latest AMG weaponry and a decent museum, it’s a whole new world and a place that Aladdin could only have dreamed of. Wandering around the museum, you’ll be hard pressed to find something that isn’t owned by one of Aladdin’s mates as most of the display cars belong to the obscenely rich Middle Eastern crowd. The super rare CLK GTR for example - of which only 26 built for homologation purposes - were all left-hand drive, bar one. This one was owned by the Sultan of Brunei and as far as Merc's aware he’s never actually seen it finished. He insisted on right-hand drive with purple leather interior (to match all his other cars, of course) and bespoke seats as the originals were too small for his large frame. A shrine to Mercedes wouldn’t be complete without a look at its Formula 1 heritage. You can get up close and personal with machines from recent years, including Hamilton’s aerodynamically obscene, winglet-covered McMerc from 2007. There's also Force India’s effort from last year, complete with comically narrow rear spoiler. The highlight is the blown up car that Merc inherited from Brawn. It’s actually a BAR display that has been resprayed over the years, but gives a wonderful visual representation of what goes into an F1 car. Once you’ve filled your geeky boots, you can step outside and take in the historic air. Not much remains of the original track, other than some crumbling remnants of banking between you and Merc’s modern test facilities, with the rest of the track disappearing behind the tree line beneath flats and industrial buildings. But enough of the past. Some bloke's just approached me with the words: “Hello mate, we’re taking the CLS AMG.” Merry freakin’ Christmas! In AMG spec, the CLS is a 5.5-litre, bi-turbo V8, 557bhp monster. Walking up to this beast you’d be forgiven for feeling a little intimidated. Jump inside and your buttocks are cupped nicely in expensive leather, the large windscreen giving you a cinematic view of the tarmac ahead. The first thing you’ll notice is the surprisingly small steering wheel, perfectly shaped and by no means a perfect circle (Ollie's not a fan). We were in pretty crappy and wet conditions, but the combination of mighty Continental ContiSportContact 5 P rubber and the CLS’s traction control systems make you feel like a boss behind the wheel. If, like me, you’re a bit too lead-footed out of a corner, you’ll be left grinning from ear to ear as you try to catch that lairy back end. One of the facility's highlights is the wet circle. Slipperier than ice, it teaches you to catch a slide and hold it like a slow motion scene from Tokyo Drift. The first couple of tries you’ll clench your cheeks as your £80,000 steed slides out of control towards the gravel, but the reassuring instructor next to you will have you feeling like DK in no time. Mercedes-Benz World gets the CT seal of approval. You can just pop down and take in the history or hoon in AMG’s latest metal. There’s also off road experiences and even driving lessons, so whatever your needs they’ll certainly be fulfilled!

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