2008 Mercedes Brabus Bullit Black Arrow

Jurgen Skarwan

On a perfect airport runway surfaced with grippy asphalt, the 4079-pound Bullit will accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds, according to Brabus. After 10.5 seconds, the Bullit reaches 124 mph. Give it fourteen more seconds, and it will thunder past 186 mph, still gaining momentum. While lesser cars like the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG or the BMW M5 start to run out of steam at 155 mph, the monster from Brabus keeps charging ahead. To save stress and fuel, fifth gear is summoned relatively early, but there is still so much oomph on tap that this maximum Merc doesn't run into an invisible wall until an indicated 202 mph, which is all the relatively short 2.65:1 axle permits.

We drove the very first Bullit built, an almost new car with fewer than 200 miles on the odometer. Brabus chose a suspension setting that was fine for secondary roads, where the ride turned out to be surprisingly decent for such a radical machine. On the autobahn, however, we would encourage a few subtle changes. The front end felt a little stiff in the springs, which affected ground contact at high velocities, when a mix of floating and hopping motions on undulating surfaces was at odds with the otherwise compliant chassis. At the same time, the rear spring and damper setup was a touch on the cushy side. Together with the flex factor of the tires, and in view of the inherently generous wheel travel, this relatively relaxed calibration permitted too much lift and too much vertical movement. As a result, the directional stability wasn't as arrow-straight and uncompromised as the SL63 AMG we recently drove. It's an issue that can probably be fixed in half an hour in the shop, but at 200 mph, you need total confidence, absolute clarity, and reassuring composure.

At speeds below 125 mph, the genetically manipulated C-class is a hoot, and the suspension feels very well-connected. On-ramps are perfect for lurid slides, traffic lights present a good opportunity for creating long black stripes and clouds of gray smoke, and on-demand third-gear wheel spin - even in the dry - never fails to make your passengers pale. Any second-gear corner that is clear from entry to exit beckons for a drift-challenge audition. Of course, this machine really deserves a racetrack, a drag strip, or at least an empty supermarket parking lot with not too many lampposts in the way of one's impromptu auto slalom.

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