Mercedes-AMG’s new M177 4.0-litre V8 seems little short of stellar here. Suitably dramatic sounding, it’s also crisp under your right foot and so muscular through the lower revs that you can’t believe it’ll spin so keenly to the 7000pm cut-out. And yet it does.
We can pay it no greater compliment than to record that, even after the over-square, atmospheric awesomeness of the C 63 Black Series’ M156 V8, this feels like progress.
But of equal significance, believe it or not, is the gearbox. The multi-clutch Speedshift unit has been totally reworked and now shifts almost exactly as you want it to. Select Sport+ mode and the paddle-shift changes come through almost as fast and hard as a BMW M4 can deliver them.
Hold the left-hand paddle down and it’ll block-shift down to the lowest available ratio, even to within a few hundred revs of the redline; leave it in Comfort and it’s the heart and soul of smoothness.
Seldom have we been so impressed by a transmission from AMG, but the firm is evidently keen to address recurrent criticisms of the past few years and put itself in a position to be rated by hardcore purists as highly as by the old autobahn faithful.
It may, in fact, be too keen, because in opting to tie this car to the road surface so intimately, AMG has fallen short of the kind of rolling refinement you might want in a modern super-saloon.