The VCM Merc may have a supercharged tiger in its tail, but its softer, more streetable nature actually gave the car a marked advantage in the changeable conditions that cut right the way across the Hot Tuner fest for 2016.
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The Quadrant-tuned chassis is softer in its spring rates than the stock car, and it showed in the lap times on both the streaming and drying laps.
Mad lapper Tony D’Alberto was suitably impressed. “I’m comfortable now on this drying track taking the traction control off and letting it do its thing,” he said, “but even before I felt comfortable doing that. It’s got a little more understeer than I like, but you can still have a bit of a play with it and it’s very predictable. The power comes in nicely. Down low it... not struggles, but waits ’til it gets up in the revs before it really unleashes, so you have to keep it up in that band.
“You couldn’t just nail the throttle; you have to roll it on, but that’s the same for every car in these conditions.”
My brief test in monsoonal rain followed the same thought pattern. Despite the soaked track, and partly because of the choice of tyre (Michelin Pilot Super Sports), the C63 gave a much better account of itself. There was at least some front end grip to hand, and the long, languid power delivery curve meant that the rear end would stay settled for longer – though when it broke away, it needed a whole pile of 0s and 1s from the traction control system to keep me on the island.
Inside it’s a standard Merc, with absolutely nothing other than the vinyl wrap to give away the fact that this thing is packing some serious heat. Even the 19s are factory standard.
Its dyno results spelled out the improvements netted from the Magnuson supercharger-and-tuning combo, with Tayler supplying a dyno chart that saw the C63 jump to 382rwkW (from 257kW) and a quite believable 942Nm (from 641Nm). The Hot Tuner dyno run netted 339rwkW.
“Pushing it, we can break the 400kW mark at the wheels, but I took a couple of degrees [of ignition] out because people would be thrashing it,” Tayler confirmed.
The VCM Merc was one of two cars that didn’t get a clean go of it at the dragstrip, but re-tested at a dry Heathcote it stormed to 100km/h in just 4.1sec and monstered the quarter mile in 11.89sec at 201.95km/h. Again, the slightly softer setup and progressive power delivery paid dividends, the car far easier to nail a decent number in than you might imagine, given the amount of horsepower at the rear treads.
The VCM C63 isn’t designed to impress the Saturday night cruise set; rather, its aim is to give C63 drivers a little bit more on top of the rather large amount of everything they already have underfoot.
It would be all too easy to overwhelm the inherent driveability of the stock car with a sharp-edged power delivery and on-off response, or to cruel its natural chassis balance with ill-conceived suspension part choices. The VCM Performance boys didn’t fall into either trap, and have built a grand tourer with manners, grace and pace.
OVERALL RANKING: 6TH
6th | Lap time: 1:05.6sec
5th | Lap V-Max: 154.93km/h
6th | Lap V-Max: 99.25km/h
6th | Lap V-Max: 51.02km/h
TONY D RECKONS
“That was actually a lot of fun. You can have the car on the edge and feel comfortable. As far as spring rates and things like that, for these conditions they’re actually pretty good. I’m not one who likes to slide a car around too much and I felt totally comfortable with the car and if it did lose the rear a little bit I had plenty of margin to grab it again.”