Though based on a C-Class, the Brabus Bullit looks like a thug. It backs up this threatening demeanor with the most powerful production engine currently on sale for a Mercedes-Benz: the 6.3-liter biturbo V12 that took the CLS-based Rocket to 228.56 mph at Nardo in October 2006.

Endowed with 730 hp at 5100 rpm and 812 lb-ft of torque at 2100 rpm (electronically reduced from an axle-twisting 974 lb-ft), its zero-to-62 mph time of 3.9 seconds is only compromised by the traction available to a slightly nose-heavy rear-wheel-drive car. This is more than made up for by the sensational zero-to-125mph time of 10.49 seconds, with 187.5 mph coming up in 24.5 seconds. That's 8.5 seconds faster than the new Porsche GT2. Top speed should be similar to the Rocket.

A pretty effective suspension system is needed to tie down that much power and the Bullit uses a variation of the excellent Bilstein PSS10 10-position adjustable coilover system with a single spring in place of the usual main and helper springs. Brabus set up the dampers to be softer in bounce but firmer in rebound than Bilstein makes them. Ride height is 1.6 inches lower than a standard C350, which is a good trade-off between appearance, performance and sufficient spring travel for good ride comfort.

With all the options, the Bullit weighs 4180 pounds and has a front/rear weight distribution of 57/43 percent. But using lightweight materials in front where possible helps to even things out. The new wider front fenders that extend the car's width by 1.2 inches per side are hand-formed from sheet aluminum by an in-house craftsman, while the new front bumper/spoiler, side skirts and rear bumper are carbon fiber. The rear underbody diffuser and three-piece carbon fiber rear trunk spoiler reduce lift at speed.

The front bumper/spoiler is made from proper three-layer material cured in an autoclave and is so light it can be lifted by using just one finger of each hand. Radiators for water, oil, intercoolers and gearbox sit behind its huge intakes. The factory steel hood has cooling ducts cut into it to help extract the hot air from the turbos. The extended rear wheel arches are also made from steel, properly grafted into the bodyshell and rust-proofed.

The wider arches are needed to accommodate 9.5x19 and 10x19 Brabus Monoblock S wheels, shod with 265/30 and 285/30 Yokohama Advan Sport tires that increase track width by 0.4 of an inch in front and 0.6 of an inch at the rear. The Bullit uses the biggest brakes Brabus offers to provide retardation as impressive as its acceleration. These are Alcon-made 15-inch slotted, vented discs with 12-piston calipers in front and 14-inch rear discs with six-piston calipers,Displaced reality is part and parcel of the Brabus V12 world. One of the things about the experience is the pre-engaged starter whirring for a second before the motor barks into its multi-cylinder action. While the standard V12 just hums in its ber-cultured way, the free-flow exhaust and catalytic converters of the Brabus motor allow a more liberal interpretation of noise regulations.

Traction is impressive thanks to the 40 percent slippery diff, and the Bullit catapults itself down the road in a straight line (more or less) with the kind of constant thrust in the back previously thought impossible in a road-legal sedan. To burn rubber, press harder. Just a reminder: it hits 187.5 mph 8.5 seconds faster than a new Porsche GT2.

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