“We sold 25 of the original Bullit saloons, and have a client in Dubai who owns two cars. He will probably buy a Coupe as well now,” said Jörn. “The development costs of cars like these are high, hence the stratospheric price tag. But luckily there are enough wealthy car enthusiasts in the world who like the idea of a big, powerful motor in a compact car.”
I never cease to be amazed and inspired by the sharp bark of the tuned V12 bursting into life after just a second of encouragement from its pre-engaged starter. The deep burble of the big engine is totally at odds with a car the size of the C-Class Coupe, even one that looks as menacing as this. But the rabid exhaust note echoing around the buildings puts the denizens, winged, clawed or otherwise, on notice that a serious new player is in town.
As we prowl the streets, the Bullit 800 feels good to be in. Its cabin fittings look and feel exclusive enough to justify the $500,000 asking price. At prowling speeds, the king-size motor is barely ticking over and is just begging to be let loose. With no trade in town and since vampires are terminally allergic to sunlight, we head off to the nearby autobahn to stretch the Bullit’s legs.
Brabus say that fired off the line perfectly, the Bullit 800 will take just 3.7 seconds to pass 62 mph, 23.8 seconds to reach 186 mph, and carry on to 230 mph on its 3.42:1 final drive ratio.
A small handful of supercars can pip it to the 62-mph benchmark, but they do so helped by all-wheel drive for optimum traction off the line. What happens after that is more significant, and in the real world, the biturbo V12’s relentless mother lode of torque will have the Bullit 800 Coupe catch, pass and then leave its challengers in the dust.
We cannot do any serious performance testing as this precious prototype has a date with the Geneva Motor Show in a matter of days, but we can get a good snapshot of its potential.
With this kind of torque on tap, the basic 40 percent locking action of the torque sensing limited-slip differential is vital to the car’s ability to put its power down. And stay pointed in the intended direction of travel!
The uprated Brabus suspension is a race-style, height-adjustable coilover system using Bilstein gas dampers with 10-way adjustable bounce and rebound control and larger antiroll bars.
As the car is lower than the base AMG, Brabus had to get the geometry back on course, so they modified the lower suspension arms with offset joints, and also use solid bushes in salient places for better feel and response.
The ability to tweak bounce and rebound settings independently has allowed the engineers to achieve a surprisingly comfortable ride. However, if you think about it, a good secondary ride and adequate wheel travel is a great advantage when you have to deploy a lot of power over bumps.
The wheels are the latest Brabus Monoblock R design in 8.5x20 and 9.5x20 sizes with 235/30 and 275/25 Dunlop SportMaxx rubber, front and rear respectively. These are the largest wheels and tires that will fit the C-Class Coupe’s wheelwells, resulting in a smaller footprint and less mechanical grip at the driven wheels than any other Brabus car powered by this awesome motor.
The big brakes behind these 10-spoke alloy wheels use 380mm vented discs in front clamped by 12-pot calipers and 360mm vented discs at the rear with six-pot calipers. They provide enormous braking force to counter the sub-orbital capability of the engine.
Unfortunately, the packaging of the C-Class does not allow for a fuel tank any larger than the standard 17.4-gallon one, so the major real-world weakness of the Bullit 800 Coupe is its range. Use the performance in anger frequently, and you will be the gas station owner’s new best friend.
The difference the seven-speed gearbox makes is amazing. I have always thought of the big V12 as a slightly lazy engine because of the way it revs out, but when paired with seven more closely spaced ratios, it comes alive and feels so much more responsive.
The shorter gear ratios keep the engine in its optimum working range more of the time, not that this was ever really a problem even with five ratios. But the newfound snappy character is in tune with what you would expect from a compact two-door Coupe.
If I had to sum up the performance of this car in one word, it would be bombastic. Drop the hammer and all hell breaks loose. Wheelspin, ESP light flashing, long black lines on the tarmac. But once it hooks up, you are slammed back in your seat and the car begins its serious mission of reeling in the horizon.
“Geneva Show car! Don’t break it!” Jörn Gander’s words are echoing in my head over the V12’s sonorous engine note. It is time to return to base, so I disengage the warp drive and cruise back to Brabus HQ in Bottrop.
One obvious standout from my short test is the smoother and more progressive drive than the original Bullit. “The software is the key,” Jörn explained. “Back in 2007, the systems were more digital, and you felt it. The faster, new ECUs provide a much more seamless integration between the engine, transmission, ESP and other systems, giving the car a more analog feel.”
That evening, the Internet came alive with news of the Brabus Bullit 800 Coupe. Sightings, speculation and quite obvious excitement. Maybe someone saw us on the autobahn, or perhaps it was a creature peering out of a window on the Van Helsing set. Do vampires use camera phones?
As we prowl the streets, the Bullit 800 feels good to be in. Its cabin fittings look and feel exclusive enough to justify the $500,000 asking price.