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The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Black Baron madness from Brabus

2009-09-18 07:18
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Brabus
Model Black Baron
Engine 6.3l biturbo V12
Power 588kW @ 5 500r/min
Torque 1 420Nm @ 2 100r/min
Transmission Five-speed auto
Zero To Hundred 3.7 sec
Top Speed 370km/h
Weight 1 980kg
Tyres F: 255/35 19, R: 285/30 19 R
The boys from Bottrop are at it again, this time with a 588kW E-Class.

Affalterbach’s greatest rivals always manage to produce something rather fetching for the bi-annual Frankfurt auto show.

Usually it’s finished in black and has performance credentials which could shame the Millennium Falcon – adding to the litany of Darth Vader inferences.

Two years ago, it was the C-Class-based Brabus Bullit, with a 537kW turbocharged V12 under the bonnet. This year Merc’s new E-Class acts as the foil for some outlandish Brabus engine transplant.

Would you spend €500 000 on this? Batman suit not included.

When big V8s simply won't do

Powering the Black Baron (they’re not particularly good with names, Brabus) is a stroked version of the S-Class's 5.5l V12 biturbo engine.

Although the stock 5.5l V12 mill is good for 455kW, Brabus scoffed at such underachieving engine output figure and binned the sub-assembly for something which would elongate the stroke, raising swept capacity to 6.3l.

New pistons are driven from the heavy-duty crankshaft by strengthened conrods. The 6.3l V12 is fueled by a reprogrammed ECU chip, whilst performance camshafts roll in gas-flowed cylinder heads, immeasurably improving air and fuel flow properties.

Forced induction plumbing has been revised too, with the biturbo mechanics benefiting from four water-to-air intercoolers and dual custom manifolds. Keeping the Black Baron EURO IV compliant are free-flow catalytic converters.

How Brabus managed to fit – and manages to effectively cool – this 6.3l V12 leviathan of an engine within the latest E-Class architecture is beyond us.

All you need to know is it produces 588kW and 1 420Nm of peak rotational force – which is a lot, you’ll certainly agree.

The five-speed automatic transmission only has to deal with an electronically limited torque peak of 1 100Nm on demand though.

Coupled to a 40% locking rate rear slippy diff, Brabus claims the Black Baron will hit 100km/h from standstill in 3.7 seconds, if you can contain your power addiction.

Another rather alarming acceleration statistic tallies the Baron’s 0-300km/h prowess, dispatched in only 23.9 seconds, before powering on to a top speed around the 370km/h mark – in theory.

Carbon-fibre rear spoiler is the real deal. The 370km/h top speed claim, we're not so sure...

Brakes - strong enough to stop time

Factoring in the Black Baron’s titanic performance figures, you’d expect huge strain to be exerted on the car’s brakes and suspension components. To counter these, Brabus has extensively retrofitted the E-Class components with better bits.

Compared to AMG E-Class stoppers, the Brabus brakes are a touch more reassuring in terms of on-paper specification.

Front discs are 380mm, actuated by 12-piston calipers (20mm bigger with twice the AMG’s pistons), whilst aft 360mm rotors are grabbed by six-pistons, two more than AMG’s rear calipers.

Beyond the huge power hike and aviation-spec brakes, suspension components are geared specifically for high-speed autobahn work.

All four wheel corners benefit from Brabus performance sway bars and coil-overs, with 10-selectable settings for compression and rebound.

Looks like a Back to the Future movie set refugee car. Not cool - on any level, whatsoever.

Speed spads...

Unfortunately after all the redoubtable mechanical engineering Brabus resolutely loses the plot when it comes to styling the Black Baron. It is quite simply hideous.

With all the carbon-fibre paraphernalia fitted the bodywork swells by 36mm in width.

Obviously we understand the need for a new bonnet (considering the massive engine residing underneath), and the front splitter (reducing lift on the fore axle at 300km/h) whilst the rear diffuser aids stability. What we plainly cannot live with is the presence of those rear wheel speed spads.

Those what? Exactly.

In plain English they’re simply flush bodywork panels which cover the top half of the wheels, improving aerodynamic efficiency, yet tarnishing the Black Baron’s appearance completely.

OTT Cabin

Brabus has furnished the cabin with a raft of typically elaborately branded trinkets.

Seating configuration is for four (instead of five, like the E63 AMG) and the amount of carbon-fibre and Alcantara surfacing borders on bad taste.

The Black Baron’s piece de resistance though, is the Vertu Ascent optional cell phone, made of F1's favourite fetish material, carbon-fibre.

Brabus will only finish 10 E V12s in the full carbon-fibre speed spad regalia - mercifully.

After those 10 Black Barons have been sold, the company's E-Class conversion reverts back to a more subtle (being a relative term) bodykit, and only 522kW of V12 biturbo power.


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