I've always felt that the standard E Class steel suspension is a good compromise between ride and handling, but ultimately it cannot match the AirMatic DC system for sheer comfort on demanding roads. Brabus' objective was to achieve iron-fisted control with a comfortable ride, and the new car has a supple primary and secondary ride yet retains superb high-speed control. "Damper technology has moved on a lot in the last few years," Gauffres explained. "We use the latest Bilstein dual-valve dampers for the E V12. These allow us to adjust bump and rebound independently, which is critical to achieving ride comfort and handling."
With conventional dampers, when you stiffen the damper to improve handling, the ride suffers and vice versa because in altering the damping, you move both the bounce and rebound curves up or down as one. With dual-valve dampers, you can soften off the dampers in bounce mode to improve the reaction to short, sharp low speed bumps, and stiffen rebound to return the car back to equilibrium faster and remove any "float" after a big bump at speed.Because of the diversity of driving styles and speed limits in different markets, Brabus will offer a comfort version using the AirMatic DC suspension with the company's electronic lowering module. "The Sport version would be based on a standard steel sprung E320 and would save the cost of the AirMatic option," said Gauffres. "We recommend this for drivers who like to push hard on country roads or on a track."
With 640 bhp at 5200rpm and 756 lb-ft of torque at 1700 rpm, the E V12 needs no more than its five forward automatic gears. However, while a few German customers will no doubt want to exploit the highest top speed they can, it makes more sense for the rest to achieve the best possible acceleration. The 2.65:1 sprint axle ratio still allows a 199 mph top speed, while the taller 2.47:1 ratio lets you knock on the door of 210 mph.
The Sport suspension gives the E V12 an unexpected and pleasing agility and directness missing from both the conventionally equipped and air-suspended standard E Class models. And although it's now halfway between the weight of an S500 and S600, it does not feel like it.
Deploying the power is a balance between the size of wheels and tires and what will fit under the standard wheel arches. This turns out to be 8.5 and 9.5x19-inch Brabus Monoblock VI wheels with 255/40-19 and 285/35-19 Michelin Pilot Sport 2 rubber. "At the time we started our high speed testing, this was the only tire with the speed rating we required," Gauffres said. "Now that the Continental SportContact2 Vmax is out we may offer it too, but for most people the Michelin will be the best all-rounder."
Bearing in mind the car's weight and speed potential, Brabus employs its biggest and best brake system to keep things in check. Massive 12-pot Brabus/Alcon calipers in front clamp 14.8-inch ceramic vented discs, and the rear six-pot calipers work on 14-inch vented steel discs. These are part of the Sport package, although you can have the steel discs if you want.
It's eight years since I drove the original Brabus E V12, and that car shot into the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest four-door production car in the world. The latest E V12 feels much more sharply honed--in fact, it feels more like a production car than a tuned one.
According to the stopwatch, the new E V12 is faster through the gears than its predecessor, and may well snatch a speed record or two itself before long. Here are the numbers you have been waiting for: zero to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, zero to 100 mph in 8.9 seconds, 62 to 124 mph in 8.4 seconds. Top speed: 199 mph.Enough said.
Brabus E V12
Longitudinal front engine,rear-wheel drive
5.5-liter V12, singleoverhead cam, three valvesper cylinder, twin turbochargedand intercooled
Mods: Brabus software,
Brabus springs,Bilstein dual-valve dampers
Brabus/Alcon 12-piston calipers, 14.8-inch carbon ceramic rotors (f)
Brabus/Alcon four-piston calipers, 14-inch rotors (r)
Wheels and Tires
Brabus Monoblock IV,
8.5x19(f), 9.5x19 (r)
Michelin Pilot Sport 2,
Peak Power: 640 bhp@ 5200 rpm
Peak Torque: 756 lb-ft@ 1700 rpm
0-62 mph: 4.5 sec.
Top Speed: 199 mph