The force curve is not linear, it's exponential. Roughly speaking, a car travelling at three times the national limit generates nine times the energy. At 200 mph, any commercial airliner will already be airborne. "Both aerodynamically and mechanically, everything gets really serious when you top 200," says Gramm. "We learned a huge amount with the previous generation (205 mph) EV12 and that helped us with this car." Creating a 220-mph car is not easy-just ask Bugatti.
I spot a stream of trucks on the horizon and lift a little, passing them at little more than 170 mph. It's a pointless exercise, of course. Hitting a truck at 200 mph, 170 mph or even 120 mph would have the same calamitous effect, but at least it makes me feel better. God only knows what the trucker must have thought about being passed by a black missile at 4:45 a.m. Maybe we woke him up.
My thoughts turn to the tires, which remain arguably the most critical component in any high speed run. The EV12 reached 350km/h while riding on Pirellis, but it's on Michelins today. "The Pirellis are rated for 350 and the Michelins for 340," explains Gramm. "But the Michelins-Pilot Sport Extra Loads-offer greater comfort." On this car they're filled with nitrogen so their pressure is less affected by temperature changes.
The road clears again and I can see for a mile ahead. I bury the throttle, but the acceleration is less urgent now. Every additional mph seems to be more of a struggle; it's almost as if we're going uphill. The needle swings past 300 km/h, or 186 mph. Brabus has had the speedo independently verified and we know at these speeds it's accurate to within a couple of km/h.
Hang on; be calm; don't make any sudden movements... 310 km/h. The wind and tire noise rises dramatically as the guard rail flashes past the window. It feels fast, fucking fast. I try to straddle the center line, giving myself some room to maneuver. The road swings left and I apply a couple of degrees of steering lock. At 100 mph you wouldn't even notice this curve, but at nearly 200 mph it becomes a genuine challenge. The car feels light, even nervous, and I sense that so many of its parts are operating at or near their maximum capacity.
I'm feeling anxious and editor Bidrawn's words come back to me. "This silly little feature ain't worth the death of my favorite limey," he'd said. "And if you die, I'll haunt yer ghost till it's dead too." The road straightens out and I lean back on the gas... 315km/h. Sorry Les, my ghost will have to wait.
318... 319... 320 (200 mph)... 321... I want to make sure... 322... 323... The vibrations are huge and the wind rush extraordinary. On a public road, I'm traveling at a pace of which few cars have ever been capable, and I'm breaking no laws. From behind my right shoulder, photographer Salt calmly captures the moment, and then I hit the brakes.
Twelve- (yes twelve) piston front calipers crunch into 14.8-inch ceramic discs as the speedo needle sweeps left. This car stops even better than it goes. After what I've just experienced, 150 mph feels pedestrian and I have to talk myself down to a more modest speed. The adrenaline is still pumping.
There will be those who will say that what I've just achieved is mad, foolhardy and downright irresponsible. Maybe they're right, but some things in life just need to be done. If Brabus is going to build a 200-plus-mph road car, then somebody will need to test it. And this morning, that somebody was me.
The Ten Commandments Of Autobahn BlastingThou shalt have xenon headlightsThou shalt activate thine headlamps and foglamps even in full sunshineThou shalt leave thine left indicator permanently blinkingThou shalt have abundant credit on thy plastic for multiple refueling stopsThou shalt alter thy personality from tolerant citizen to arrogant, selfish elitistThou shalt flash furiously at any fool in the middle lane who looks like he's even thinking of moving outThou shalt zap across to the inside lane at every opportunity in order to set an xample of lane discipline to the ignoramus pootling along in the middleThou shalt studiously ignore the abusive gestures of such ignoramusesThou shalt not flash a Porsche to get out of thy way, or be damned to breathehis exhaust for eternityThou shalt be very wary of vehicles bearing Eastern European number plates