AMG Hill Climb: In the Nizam’s backyard driving a Mercedes-AMG SLC 43
Images: Rohit Mane
When you have more than 360 horses and 500-plus Nm of twist at the mercy of your right foot for a weekend of fun, what do you do? City roads are too crowded for anyone to enjoy these numbers, especially if they come in a body as sharp as that of the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43. Your only option then is to find yourself a good road with enough straights to experience those horses and sufficient corners to let you experience the full potential of that razor-edged chassis. And in our heads that can only mean one thing – a fast and furious hill climb.
But finding a good hill climb is easier said than done in our country with most hills being carved out to make way for inevitable pandemonium of ever taller condominiums. And yet, as all wise men will tell you (usually with the wisdom of hindsight) that if you look hard enough you’ll surely find something of value. Our search this month, led us to the Nizam’s backyard – the Ananthagiri Hills outside Hyderabad to be precise.
If you’re a petrolhead living in the city of dum biryani, then Ananthagiri is the only place you’d head to on a weekend. That’s what we had been told on our way to Hyderabad. A quick search on the internet showed that we were looking at a bunch of hairpins. Gunning down one of the long straights of the hill climbs I realise I’m smiling to myself as the wind ruffles my hair. Even though the hill I’m on is nothing like what I had seen in the image search I had done on Google before getting on the flight from Pune to Hyderabad. That one was lush and inviting. There was more brown and beige here. Put it down to the vagaries of season changes.
There weren’t too many hairpins either. Instead the long straights connected fast flowing sweepers. Excellent, because you don’t really have to brake too much for the turn. You can carry as much pace through them as you dare. And we did see some really daredevil drivers at the wheels of trucks hurtling down the hillside. Adding to the experience is a fabulous view of the plains around the hill. It’s enticing enough to induce me to stop by the roadside to admire it for a few minutes. It’s actually quite spectacular because the hill dominates the entire landscape.
In my case, as always, going up is more fun than climbing down. I like the sensation of the engine’s grunt overpowering the forces of gravity instead of hurtling down with not much need for the engine to work. In this particular case I was being pulled along by the 362bhp that was being pumped out of a three-litre biturbo V6 heart. All the while accompanied by a rising crescendo from the engine and the brrapp brrapping of the exhausts. Not loud enough to cause trouble yet adequate enough to make one smile.
More so, because the driving mode I’ve selected using the Dynamic Select button on the dash is not Eco, Comfort or Sport. It is Sport+, the only mode that makes any sense when tackling fast hill climbs. What this mode does is alter the throttle map so that there’s stronger acceleration and the engine holds the gears for longer. At the same time the steering becomes a little more direct than it normally is. All of this equates to more fun around those fast sweepers because you can really gun that Mercedes-AMG around the bends.
Needless to say, around these fast bends of the Ananthagiri Hills I have been taking full advantage of this mode. So much so that on the way back to Hyderabad I forget to switch back to the more relaxed Comfort mode.Going back down isn’t too bad either because the last few turns provide an awesome view of the plains from the hill top. Here in the east, the sun sets much too early so by the time I’m on my n-th run, it’s late afternoon and the sun is already low on the horizon. The view is even more magnificent now with long shadows throwing everything in stark contrast.
At some point I realise that I’m not alone, a bunch of bikers have stopped to stare at the bright red sleek form of the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43. I suppose in the whole frenzy of having fun on the hill climb, I had quite forgotten what a good looking car this sportster is. Especially, once I’ve put that hard top down and out at the touch of a lever that’s neatly hidden away behind the gear selector.
There’s another benefit to having that roof tucked away. The aural delights are enhanced, which also means you smile wider. After all a hill climb in a fast and furious AMG is all about smiles, is it not?