The fashion for matte-finished paint has reached the point where even major manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes now offer it as an option. While you could argue that the extra skin friction robs you of that last smidgen of top speed, there is no getting away from the fact that the matte finish does make a car look more purposeful.
Of course the car itself is the starting point, and a matte-finished Toyota Prius would simply look unpainted. But the matte finish of a mean machine like the already thuggish-looking Brabus Bullit Coupe gives it even more attitude.
Today we are at Movie Park Germany, outside Bottrop-Kirchhellen, on the set of the famous vampire hunter Van Helsing. While it is commonly known that a silver bullet will kill a vampire stone dead, our matte-gray Brabus Bullit Coupe looks like it can rip the heart out of any creature of the night we might encounter here.
Underneath its war paint, the Bullit Coupe certainly has the right stuff. Unlike the Bullit saloon I drove in late 2007, which had to have its wheel arches extended to cover its bigger wheels and tires, Mercedes-AMG has thoughtfully provided extended arches as standard on the C63 AMG Coupe that Brabus use as the base car. The taller bonnet of the facelift-style AMG car helps too.
“While this sounds like an expensive way of doing things compared to starting with a smaller-engined C-Class Coupe, you would have to change and uprate so many more components, it would definitely work out more expensive and complicated,” Brabus’ Deputy Development Chief Jörn Gander explained.
Where the Bullit saloon had a pretty potent 730 hp, times have moved on and Brabus has since uprated their most powerful version of the venerable biturbo V12 motor to a rousing 800 hp (788 bhp) at 5500 rpm.
As before, the peak torque figure has been electronically limited to 811 lb-ft to prevent the gearbox and rear axle being reduced to scrap under the onslaught of the 1,047 lb-ft at 2100 rpm that this motor recorded on the dyno.
These big numbers are the culmination of years of progressive development by Uli Gauffres, Jörn Gander and their engineering team. Step-by-step, they have managed to extract more and more power from the 36-valve Mercedes M275 engine.
Where AMG take the basic Mercedes motor from 5,513 cc and 517 hp to 5,980 cc and 612 hp, Brabus have upped the ante with a further displacement bump to 6,233 cc and 800 hp for this R-spec motor with its two big, high-performance turbochargers and quad water-cooled intercooler system.
In the past, the handicap of any Brabus car with the M275 engine was the old-style five-speed automatic transmission. While even the standard cooking version of this motor in an S600 has more than ample power and torque to cover the big gaps between the five ratios, despite continuous software updates, this gearbox has relatively tardy response compared to today’s state-of-the-art seven-speed automatic. On top of that, it simply cannot provide the same level of in-gear acceleration and fuel economy with just five ratios.
Low-volume special cars are a Brabus specialty however, and selling such cars to ultra-wealthy clients is a whole different ball game. Thus, Brabus took the plunge last year, and during the development of the second-generation CLS-based Rocket 800, they uprated the torque handling ability of the wet-clutch AMG Speedshift MCT gearbox from 664 to 811 lb-ft and mated it to their 6.3-liter V12.
While the internal strengthening work was a fairly straightforward affair, matching disparate engine and gearbox components that were never meant to work together was more easily said than done.
“We had to modify the rear of the V12 block, and an all-new flywheel machined from a solid billet now mates this to the MCT gearbox’s wet-clutch system,” explained Jörn. “We then added a larger capacity cooling system for the gearbox oil.”
The bigger engine and all its ancillaries take the weight of the C-Class Coupe up to 4,012 pounds. When all is said and done, the conversion puts about 220 extra pounds in the nose, just slightly behind the front axle.
As you would expect, Brabus have also done an amazing job on the interior to make it look and feel special. The deeply contoured seats are trimmed in the highest quality soft black hide, with red stitching to accentuate the contours. Red stitching is also used to highlight the trim panels on the doors, center console, dashboard and steering wheel. The dashboard top is covered in Alcantara to minimize reflections in the windscreen.
The quilted leather pattern used on the carpet and up the sides of the transmission tunnel is a Brabus trademark, and even the leather floor mats with their red piping have this pattern. It looks great on a show car, but you would want to put down over-mats to protect the floor from scuffing in daily use.
Quilted leather covers every square inch of the trunk interior as well, so there is no sudden drop in quality no matter where you look. Ordinary is an alien concept at Brabus!
The devil is in the details, and the special lightweight aluminum paddle shifters on the steering wheel and the Brabus alloy pedal set add to the feel that this is a serious driving machine.
The “Brabus Bullit 800” script is cut out of the stainless steel sill protector plates with a high-pressure water jet, and the dual layer construction gives a three-dimensional effect. The lettering is blue illuminated at night and when the lights are on.
Finally, the speedometer has been recalibrated to read to 400 km/h, and a Bullit 800 plaque is applied to the carbon-fiber-look trim on the passenger side of the dashboard.