BRABUS have been the tuner most synonymous with Mercedes-Benz cars for more than 40 years. Everything from the Smart through to the mighty G-Class is available to the BRABUS treatment. The latest model to be upgraded is the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC+ and the changes are both significant and impressive in equal measure – the result is this, the BRABUS ROCKET 900.
I’ll come to the visuals in a moment, the changes under the skin are worth covering first as they are staggering. The engine of the BRABUS ROCKET 900 is based on the four-litre eight-cylinder that would be found in a stock GT 63 S, the engineers at BRABUS agreed that to reach the 900 horsepower, as the name suggests they should increase the displacement rather than just flash the ECU or increase boost pressures. The Bottrop-based company is the only tuner around today to engage in this kind of performance enhancement, which involves major r&d and cost but is highly efficient.
The displacement has been increased to 4.5-litres and includes a special precision-balanced billet crankshaft with a stroke increased to 100 millimetres. There are special billet piston rods, larger forged pistons and the increase of the eight cylinder bores to 84 millimeters. These new and improved components were on display for me to inspect, the engineering and expertise involved is clear to be seen. Furthermore, there are two special BRABUS high-performance turbochargers which feature a larger compressor unit than the factory prodcution components and a special core assembly with reinforced axial bearing. These turbochargers increase the maximum boost pressure to 1.4 bar. To compensate for the extra heat produced by this gargantuan power boost, there is a an integrated carbon ram-air intake system on either side of the radiator grill. There is a new stainless-steel exhaust system and to cope with the gargantuan power boost the ECU has been recalibrated.
The results of these substantial changes? The ROCKET 900 V8 produces 900 hp (888 bhp) which is available from 6,200 rpm. Peak torque of 1,250 Nm (922 lb-ft), on tap at 2,900 rpm although this is limited electronically to 1,050 Nm (774 lb-ft) to protect the drivetrain. 0-100km/h is blitzed in 2.8 seconds and 200km/h in just 9.7. The top speed is limited to 330km/h due to the weight of the car. This is one of the fastest and most powerful four-seat coupes in the world.
What do these insane numbers feel like in reality? I travelled it the Dutch/German border to a racetrack on the site of a disused power plant to find out. My time behind the wheel was limited and confined to the track. There are two dominating traits of BRABUS ROCKET 900, the first is the mind blowing torque and how it launches this 2,560kg car out of corners. The stock 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system remains and makes the power and torque more exploitable than expected. The second trait is not so pleasant, the understeer. Weight can only be masked to a certain extent and combined with the tight twisty track I was driving the ROCKET on, the odds were not in the car’s favour. Another contributing factor which compounded the problem was the massive wheels. 22inch 335 section rears and 21inch 295s at the front mean that contact patches are great at putting the power down, but not ideal when it comes to turning in. Being such unusual sizes mean that the choice of tyre is limited, there are no Cup 2S or even Pirelli Corsas, just a basic P Zero that is not best suited to match the performance on offer.
In all honesty, the track handling is irrelevant, this is not the environment in which BRABUS built the ROCKET 900 to perform in. This is a car to monster the Autobahn in complete comfort, style and ease in.
Now to fun stuff, the looks! This is one of the most aggressive, intimidating and imposing cars I have ever seen. From every angle there are taught, muscular lines that make this a saloon car that looks like no other. The widebody kit, which adds 7.8 centimetres overall, is crafted from carbon-fibre and lined with kevlar which mean the changes are light and strong. The modifications are more than just aesthetic, the BRABUS design team went into the wind tunnel to develop a multi-piece carbon rear wing and a rear diffuser made from that same hi-tech compound for the BRABUS ROCKET 900. The interior is just as outlandish with the astronomical levels of customisation I have come to expect over the years. This specific car was not to my tastes, but BRABUS assured me that there is something to suit every style.
At 435,800 euros (export price excluding statutory VAT in Germany) the ROCKET 900 is far from a bargain, but there will only be ten built and each will be bespoke to the customers desires. It is no track weapon, but it might just be the ultimate daily driver. One thing is for sure, not much will be passing the BRABUS ROCKET 900 on the Autobahn!