"Crush your enemies. Drive them before you and listen to the lamentations of the women."
- Conan the Barbarian.
Typically, the aforementioned mantra isn't the type of inspiration I quote after driving a car. Then again, I never drove the Brabus B63-620. Lesser vehicles cower in our wake, and I swear the pavement has been permanently wrinkled. I'm sure women are crying too... somewhere.
Just a stone's throw from the decommissioned El Toro Marine base sits the Brabus West Coast operation. Peter Moeller, a 25-year Brabus veteran, knows the area and takes us to a desolate stretch of airbase tarmac. "Just punch it," he commanded, his accent an exotic blend of Southern California and Bottrop, Germany.
The 4400 lb sedan responds as though wired directly to my amygdale; the quickest and most responsive part of the brain. Although Peter tells me the sound from the adjustable Brabus exhaust is wonderful, I can't hear it. I think we're leaving the sound in our wake. We're outrunning our own noise.
Within 10sec the speedo reads 165mph, with no intention of stopping. "The car will touch 202- to 209mph, depending on the humidity", chirped Peter. "I'm glad it's a dry day. Less moisture means more speed."
I'm not looking at the speedometer any more, but judging by my tunnel vision, we're close to 185mph and the road is coming to an end.
Thoughts of paying for the damage flash through my head. At this speed, it would be totaled. I wonder what the car payment on $180,000 is?
I don't so much hit the brakes as I punch them. It feels as though time has slowed and I experience whatever the opposite of tunnel vision is. Everything has been compressed into a blob of colorless matter. A few seconds later and it's normal again. Peter is cheerful as ever, humming to himself and admiring the local flora. He doesn't notice me, probably because I've gone from ghostly white to clear. I've frightened myself to invisibility.
"Bah", says Peter. "You had plenty of room. Plus the brakes on this car are very good." I laugh hysterically, probably because I'm alive. A moment ago I thought we were dead and we're now cruising through a Starbucks.
The Brabus B63 is a genuine schizophrenic ride. The interior refinement is beyond measure and reeks of cool Germanic understatement. The specially prepared Brabus leather feels like thick silk, except it grabs your backside through spirited corners. I imagine it's the same stuff royalty uses on the saddle of million-dollar Arabian stallions.
Peter points out a pair of Brabus alloy shift paddles on both sides of the steering wheel. I depress the downshift paddle and the B63 leaps forward, bellowing its presence with a mechanical symphony only a Mercedes V8 can deliver.
It's this blend of hedonistic luxury and mind-warping power that makes the B63-620 so intriguing.
With reduced displacement and twin turbochargers, the CLS63 5.5-liter V8 produces a respectable 518hp at 5250-5750rpm and 516 lb-ft of torque at 1750-5000rpm. Its twin turbochargers spin to 185000rpm and dramatically boost low-end grunt. High-pressure direct injection fine-tunes the fuel spray, while multi-spark ignition fires up to four times each millisecond. Its 32-valves are driven by dual overhead cams that precisely vary the timing up to 40?. Along with substantially improved efficiency and emissions, it delivers 60mph in a breathtaking 4.4sec.
Yet regardless of this impressive factory-delivered performance, Bodo Buschmann and the crew at Brabus insist every car they deliver best those rolling of the line at Stuttgart.
In regards to the CLS featured here, Brabus engineers built a secondary computer that links into the main unit. While Peter referred to it as a "piggyback", it's nothing like some questionable products we've seen, where the black box fools the main computer into over-boosted shenanigans. The Brabus unit is wrought from the same Mercedes board and code, yet remains separate to avoid erasure during routine vehicle maintenance when new code can replace the old.
The Brabus module raises boost to proprietary Brabus levels (we're guessing 16.5psi). It also optimizes fueling and spark. All told, the car produces another 102hp, raising its peak to 620hp and a spine-compressing 663 lb-ft. This is what gives the B63 its 620 suffix. You can also purchase a B63-500 based on the CLS500 that boast a convenient 500hp.
Despite its prodigious power, the AMG seven-speed transmission flows through each gear change like it's been launched from the world's largest slingshot. There's no slamming or lurching, just a sensation of thrust that won't end.
The exterior has been augmented with jewel-like, autoclave-wrought carbon fiber. The Brabus front spoiler, fender vents, rear diffuser and trunk spoiler are positively gorgeous, lending a touch of aggression to this button-down player.
The side skirts feature LED lights around the perimeter and illuminate the B63 like it's hovering on a suspensor field. Brabus uses a special
high-tech adhesive to affix the parts: The skirts and rear diffuser are replacements that use the original mounting points.
This car was fitted with the Brabus Sport exhaust, a stainless steel system that terminates in a matte titanium finish. It features an electronic valve that changes the car's voice from tenor to baritone, activated by a button in the ashtray. The power increase is negligible, but the sound is genuinely intoxicating.
The B63 rides on forged Brabus Monoblock R wheels measuring 19x8.5" front and 9.5" rear. Shod with Continental SportContact 5P tires (255/35 and 285/30), they have their limits but it would take a long, fast racetrack to find them. On the street they're quiet and very comfortable.
Out-the-box, the CLS 63 represents the pinnacle of sport sedans. The Brabus B63-620 treatment sharpens its edge to the point of invisibility. I'm sure Conan would approve.
2012 Brabus B63-620
Engine 5.5-liter twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve v-8, Brabus ECU module, Brabus intercooler upgrade
Brakes AMG six-piston calipers, 14.2" drilled rotors f, four-piston, 12.6" r
Wheels & Tires 19x8.5" f, 19x9.5" r Brabus Monoblock R forged wheels, 255/35 R19 f, 285/30 R19 r Continental SportContact 5P tires
Exterior carbon fiber Brabus front spoiler, fender vents, illuminated side skirts, rear diffuser and trunk spoiler
Interior Brabus shift paddles, door lock pins, mats and pedal kit