Motoring / Motoring News
With The Citizen Motoring’s usual operations put on hold due to the Level 4 lockdown restrictions, performing our usual high performance road tests are simply not possible. However, we have every intention of keeping petrolheads and enthusiasts interested during these times and for this we require the reserve gear.
I have been sniffling through my archives and discovered some interesting numbers in his detailed records from the last 16 years. For some light entertainment and an interesting glimpse into how things have evolved over time, we have compiled a list of the Top 10 fastest cars – in terms of 0 to 100 km/h – for every year dating back to 2004. We are rolling these out until we get the green light to put the latest performance models through their paces again.
Again, I had to eat my words, when in 2018, another full-size luxury saloon hit the top of the timesheets, BMW’s 441kW/750Nm M5 now also fitted with all-wheel drive. The world was truly going crazy. The M5, believe it or not, bettered the Ferrari 488 GTB’s and the Mercedes-AMG E63 S’ times when it ran a 3.34 sec 0 to 100 km/h time, while going through the 1 000 m at 269 km/h! Yes, 269 km/h in only 1 km.
Turning onto the highway and gunning it down the on-ramp could see you travelling well over double the national speed limit. Doing this would get you jailed for life before you even made it onto the highway. Come on, a few years ago, doing these kinds of numbers would have been unthinkable, and the M5 did them repeatedly. Perhaps you would have noticed, just as automatic cars started to replace manual cars, all-wheel drive high-performance cars were now starting to dominate the top 10.
You would think this would cancel out the thrill factor, but it did not. All-wheel drive gave the cars brutal acceleration, all weather grip and stability at all speeds. In other words, these cars were safer and easier for the average owner to drive fast. And if you thought this move had taken away the ability for you to burn rubber and leave big black lines all over town like a delinquent, you would be wrong again.
The M5 had a ’fun’ button in that you could switch off the xDrive system and go back to good old fashioned rear-wheel drive. To prove that the change to all-wheel drive worked, I ran it in xDrive and in rear-wheel drive modes. The difference was staggering, smoking the tyres to almost the quarter mile mark the 0 to 100 km/h time went right up to 5.59 sec. A time that would now see a hot hatch drill this monster into the ground.
Next up were a trio of Mercedes-AMG cars and these three were my best drives of 2018. The sound, the speed, the dynamics, the simple wow factors were unbeatable. The 430kW/700Nm AMG GT R was first up at 3.54 sec. The chop the roof off 410 kW/680Nm AMG GT C Roadster was next at 3.64 sec, and then came the fastest SUV tested to date, the 375kW/700Nm GLC 63 S that hit a seriously quick 3.99 sec.
I was witness to what this pace means in the real world with the likes of these cars. Early one morning, an AMG GT C Roadster was heading out and along came the much-revered Suzuki Hayabusa, and in a split second it was on. I was told the ‘Busa hung in there till about 260 km/h, but from there the AMG started to pull away and after spending a few seconds comfortably over 300 km/h, it was race over. AMG 1 Hayabusa 0.
Good thing nobody had their cell phones out filming this madness, as this would have been the precursor to the now infamous R21 highway Nissan GT-R versus BMW S1000RR dice that caused huge outrage on social media. And here is the big life lesson for all.
Just as 2018 year served up high-speed shenanigans, it was also the year that served up the proverb of live by the sword and die by the sword. The reality of doing this job and continuously testing at speeds that most will never do in their lifetime, came crashing home in a big way.
As controlled and safe as the Gerotek testing facility is, speed will always be dangerous, and one morning, I was to find out just how true this would turn out to be. After thousands upon thousands of runs at my second home without a single incident, I had a big one.
For reasons known and unknown, myself and a test car ran out of stopping space and I hit the bank at the end of the long straight at high-speed. As they say, everything slows down for a few seconds and strange things run through you mind as the events unfold.
As I approached the first point of impact, I thought had it all under control and this might only be a call to the fleet manager for a little bump. When the car hit the bank, airbags deploying, and took off straight up into the morning sky in the start of what must have been a spectacular barrel roll, I thought this might now escalate into a call to the communications manager at the manufacturer.
Once gravity did its job, and the flight of the car stalled and it started to head back to earth, I mistakenly thought the worst was over, but planet earth is harder than you think. And when I had finished diving through the trees like a stricken Huey, and hit the ground, the personal and mechanical damage really started, I realised this was going to be a call the paramedics or the undertaker.
After what seemed like a lifetime of crunching metal and smashing glass, it finally went quiet. I sat there in shock, watching blood pump out of my body, not sure what could or could not move, or how far away the grim reaper was.
Out of the sky, or what was left of roof, I heard this woman’s voice with a thick German accent ask me if I had, had an accident. I kid you not, I thought for a moment God is a German woman. But when she asked if I was injured, and if I had head injuries, I realised this was the car’s clever SOS system working and the impact sensors had notified the mothership that I might need help. And help I did need.
This said, my broken bones and cuts healed relatively quickly as they should. It looked like I had gone to war with a car and lost, which I had. But the long-term injuries to the likes of my shoulders and vertebra in my neck will leave me compromised and live with me for the rest of my life.
I have written this a reminder that speed might sound cool, but it can go wrong, and I am just thankful that it was at a proper test facility and not on a public road where innocent people could have been hurt or killed.
Mark Jones is The Citizen Motoring’s Road Test Editor. All his data has been obtained up on the Reef using the world recognised test facility of Gerotek, located West of Pretoria. He has always followed the same test procedure and makes use of the world standard in road test data equipment Racelogic VBOX.
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