Albert Park Melbourne F1 track drive with Mercedes

There’s more than a little Formula 1 magic in the latest Mercedes as it uses 500kW of power to rocket down the main straight at Albert Park.

Opportunities to have a high-speed run around Melbourne’s F1 circuit are rare, so a chance to unleash the latest Mercedes-AMG muscle car was more than welcome.

In the same way that F1 cars downsized from noisy V8s to a 1.6-litre V6 with hybrid boost, the new C63 controversially swaps V8 power for a hi-tech turbo hybrid engine.

As with grand prix cars, the switch trades a loud and thirsty V8 for a much faster and more sophisticated alternative.

A crisp initial response from the 150kW electric motor kicks it down the road before you feel the full effect of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine boosted to 350kW of power.

Afterburners lit, it soars past 200km/h on the run to the first corner.

Thumping gearchanges and a purposeful roar work in its favour. There’s no time to miss the V8’s voice as we snap enormous brakes onto oversized discs.

The big rotors are helped by electric regeneration that quickly recharges the hybrid battery so maximum thrust will be available on corner exit.

The flip-flop chicane at the end of pit straight is a tricky one that looms into view over a mild brow at racing speed.

Sacrificing a little space on the right-hander to straighten the exit of turn two, we get to full throttle early and find a switch at the bottom of the pedal that deploys every last joule of energy.

Racers will use a similar technique on Sunday to eke out the most power from their engine.

The third turn is an imposing one, funnelling drivers into a tight and technical complex next to the Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre.

Ripping through what is normally the Victorian Institute of Sport carpark, the C63 benefits from the addition of all-wheel-drive traction.

A right hand kink right up against a concrete wall rewards bravery at turn five, before you keep it pinned for a tree-lined run to turn six.

There, a wonderfully reworked bend combines fresh tarmac, loads of camber and generous exit space to invite an aggressive approach.

Fat tyres bite into the tar with purchase that wasn’t possible in the old car, delivering a satisfying slingshot effect as the sedan keys into the road rather than grinding across its surface.

Then it’s a high speed run with a golf course on your left and the lake on your right, the engine reverberating off close walls.

Advertising boards melt into a coloured stream at the edge of your vision as catch fencing overhead creates a tunnel-like effect that draws your focus to a point that’s always out of reach.

It feels like a Star Wars canyon run or the climactic jet fighter raid of Top Gun: Maverick, pilots and their machines risking it all for glory in a perilous environment.

It’s an act of faith where forward vision is limited to a couple of hundred metres and stopping distances are longer than you can see.

Trust rewarded, we pop out of the concrete canyon into an open area at turn nine and 10.

This is the most demanding part of the circuit – a high-speed chicane with a direction change that demands finesse.

The back straight offers another chance to activate the electric turbocharger and feel the full effect of 1020Nm.

Twin right handers at turn 11 and 12 pull you back toward the pits for the final two bends.

Turn 13 is a sucker punch of a left-hander near the pit entrance that requires plenty of patience on approach – get too greedy and you’ll run wide, struggling to regather the car for the last bend.

Get it right and you can imagine the roar of the crowd as the main straight unfurls in front of you.

The grandstands are empty today, but it’s not hard to feel a taste of the F1 fantasy on a magnificent circuit, behind the wheel of the most advanced sports sedan on sale.

Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance

PRICE About $200,000 drive-away

WARRANTY/SERVICE 5 yrs/unlimited km, $7085 for 5 yrs/100,000km

SAFETY 8 airbags, auto emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, rear auto braking, driver monitoring, speed-sign recognition

ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo, 500kW/1020Nm

THIRST 6.1L/100km

SPARE Repair kit

BOOT 279 litres

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