Flat out in a trio of AMGs for the ultimate Phillip Island speed comparison

Turns out that getting three cars to cross the line at the same time is harder than it looks

Mercedes-AMG Phillip Island speed comparison
Gallery14

This ought to be a simple exercise. Plonk pro drivers in the right-hand seats, time each of the three AMG cars around a lap of Phillip Island and then set them off at a stagger so that they all cross the finish line at the same time.

You've probably seen a similar exercise at the Australian Grand Prix.

It turns out that getting this right is a good deal harder than you'd think.

Motor Features Mercedes AMG GT R Phillip Island 2
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Some backstory first. Every now and then, AMG will hold one of its Driving Academy events.

If you're an owner, you should get onto one. They're excellent.

This year we're at the Island and Monday is bump-in day, when the instructors arrive and are briefed, the cars are fettled and all of the hospitality teams get to work ahead of the event.

It's also a day when the track is quiet for a few hours, and we took advantage of that by rounding up three of AMG's hotshoe circuit instructors and three of the cars customers get to take out and drive on track.

Motor Features Mercedes AMG C 63 S Sedan Phillip Island 1
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We put Carrera Cup racer Sam Brabham into the world's fiercest hot hatch, the 310kW AMG A45 S. Yep, he's the grandson of Sir Jack, the three time F1 world champ, and he's certainly not slow.

Jumping into the 375kW C63 S is Nathan Pretty, a former winner of the Bathurst 24 Hour and a man with no fewer than six top-10 finishes at the Bathurst 1000 on his resume.

In the driver's seat of the 430kW AMG GT R coupe is Tim Macrow, a double Australian F3 champion.

Motor Features Mercedes AMG A 45 S Phillip Island 1
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First order is to establish a benchmark timed lap. After a couple of laps, we conclude the C63 should set off four seconds behind the A45, with the GT R another four astern.

When we run the laps with that stagger, it turns out that the C63 can't get close to the A45 and the GT R is crawling all over the back of the sedan by the time we exit MG, three-quarters of the way round the circuit. Time to think again.

It seems that Brabham is doing an annoying thing. He's learning and getting faster.

With that in mind, we slim the stagger down to a couple of seconds and Nathan Pretty - with me as ballast - sets off after him and his passenger Scott Newman, leaving another six seconds for Macrow, with Alex Inwood in the jump seat, to haul back.

Motor Features Mercedes AMG GT R Phillip Island 1
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I have to admit, it's about the best fun day I've had at a race track where I didn't drive one metre.

The A45 S is devilishly hard to peg back, even with the advantage of stickier tyres on the C63 S.

One look at their respective power-to-weight ratios gives an indication why. The A45 S packs 200kW/tonne and the C63 S? Well that depends on whether you believe that it weighs its quoted 1680kg.

We don't and think that the respective PWR figures aren't too far from lineball, especially given the fact that me and Nathan Pretty are a couple of bigger blokes than Brabham and Newman.

Motor Features Mercedes AMG C 63 S Sedan Phillip Island 2
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This means that the A45 S realises an advantage off the line and powering down out of slow corners due to its all-wheel drive, but the big C63's stability and lateral grip from its stickier rubber claws back that advantage and more in Phillip Island's faster sweepers.

While the A45 and C63 enjoy their cut and thrust up front, the GT R demolishes the fast corners.

Its body control allows its aero to really get to work, generating confidence through the really ballsy stuff at PI like the Hayshed corner and the tip into Lukey Heights.

It's not quite as tied down as our current PCOTY champ, the GT R Pro, but it's still quite something to see its lights gaining on the C63 corner by corner.

Motor Features Mercedes AMG A 45 S Phillip Island 2
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Anyway, I'm not going to spoil the surprise and tell you which crossed the line first. You'll just have to watch the video (above) for that.

Suffice to say that when we downloaded the data to our phones using the AMG Track Pace app, it was clear where each of the cars was making time on the other.

It was great to see race drivers be race drivers. Professional pride was at stake here, so every trick in the book came out to guarantee bragging rights.

It's genuinely eye-opening and it's so close at the end that I've had to watch the video myself a couple of times to establish a finishing order.

Give it a go and let us know what you think.

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