Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Top Gear 2014: AMG Experience

Driven to the stadium
This past weekend saw the three guys from BBC's famed series "Top Gear" visit the warm shores of South Africa's east coast for what was supposed to be their 3rd and final appearance in Durban for them and the travelling festival. The setting couldn't have been better with the weather being absolutely stunning, a new revised street track ready for the onslaught of fast cars and burning rubber and Moses Mabhida being the shimmering beauty in the melody of madness. 

AMG VIP marquee bar
I was fortunate enough to be invited to spend the weekend from the gang at Mercedes Benz South Africa, to experience with them a weekend of #AMGTopGear. I agreed to it without even knowing what it was about, only after, little by little did details of what an epic time it was going to be filtered in and when I finally got there, I was blown away with what I had experienced. Here's what went down.

Chillin in the marquee
After partying another Friday night into the early hours of Saturday morning, it was a struggle to get up and make the 9am opening time of the festival, let alone find parking and walk all the way to the stadium. Luckily for me Mercedes Benz already had a full proof plan in place for me and other VIP guests to their tent, with a shuttle service from Riverside hotel to the VIP area of the festival.

AMG's ready to go
Once there I was greeted by the members of the Mercedes Benz SA team, offered a drink and some entrees, then I was asked to register for my AMG hot lap, a bit confused and still nursing a hangover I signed this piece of paper and got handed a number and was told to make my way out for a safety briefing. It was there I learned that I was about to go around the street circuit in one of Mercedes Benz AMG's driven by a member from their Advanced Driving academy! The cars varied from the smallest, A45 AMG Edition 1 to the biggest ML63 AMG, the one I got to go in was the smallest and most agile from the bunch, the A45 AMG Edition 1. I was told that the street circuit was made for it as well, so I was even more excited with the my choice!

Safety briefing
All strapped up and we were ready to go, like clock work at 12pm sharp the gates to the track opened for us and we made our way on to the circuit. This years street track saw the length reduced but made it much faster and more entertaining for the fans, after a short warm up the drivers got the go ahead to put the pedal to the metal and open the valves on the car.

A45 AMG Edition 1 
Almost like a roller coaster the sheer acceleration and power had us firmly into our seats, that was only until the first turn where we then got flung from side to side as we made our way through the track. With the air filled of burning rubber and the tones of high revving engines, this was one of the best experiences of my life! In what felt like both a life time and a flash, our 4 laps were complete and we had to make our way back to the pits. Words failed to do justice for what I had experience and the only thing I could manage was this massive grin on my face. 

Next up was the show, having seen the show the past three years I sort of knew what to expect but this time round there was a difference. I had VIP pass which meant mingling in a suite in stead of an ordinary stand ticket. Being ushered around Moses Mabhida like royalty to the Mercedes Benz suite was an experience in itself. There we were greeted to an open bar to quench our thirsts and 3 course buffet lunch! If this isn't luxury and service then I don't know what is! 

View from the suite
The suite was located practically on centre stage, so the view was unmatched. The show itself lived up to expectation, it was entertaining and there was plenty of car candy to be seen, none more so than the SLS Black Series that made its entrance during the "Car Porn" segment. Hearing that deep growl of the monster V8 echo around Moses Mabhida as it made it way down the straight made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!

Spot the SLS Black Series
The expo zone of the festival is always one to draw the crowd, most manufacturers take advantage of this by displaying their best products at their tents and one to look out for is always Mercedes Benz AMG. Last year they debuted their A45 AMG Edition 1 and this year they brought along the grand daddy of luxury sports coupe's in the S63 AMG Coupe. 

AMG Marquee
The car left many admiring its fierce design coupled with the luxury interior that befits a palace. It definitely is the right combination of luxury and sports, with its long wheel base there was sure to be plenty of space for its 4 passengers and ample power to carry it along with them. Other cars at the AMG marquee included the normal SLS, SL63 AMG, A45 AMG, C63 AMG 507 Edition, CLA 45 AMG and the E63 AMG. All of them stars in their own right and got the deserved attention by the people visiting. 

S63 AMG Coupe

The AMG Demo theatre was another highlight from the German auto maker, with audiences getting to see and experience the power of the various cars as well as safety features and measures the cars does to make sure its passengers are safe at all times. Again the demonstrations were done by members of the AMG Advanced Driving Academy and left the crowds in awe and also educated on the cars on display. 

AMG Advanced Driving Academy
Before I knew it, the sun was setting on my Top Gear weekend and it was time to head back home, with one final stop at the AMG VIP tent to say our goodbyes, it was off to the shuttles which again transported us back to the Riverside Hotel to collect my car and drive back home with the memories of a fantastic time at Top Gear 2014. 

Sunset over Moses
Just a quick thanks to Mercedes Benz South Africa and the team at iProspect (Janine & Carla) for making all this possible!


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