I wonder if there has ever been such a massive gulf between generations as the one we are experiencing now. Because my children and their friends seem to have absolutely nothing in common with people my age.
In the olden days, children were just small adults. They wore ties and old-man trousers made from flannel. They listened to the same music as their parents, enjoyed whittling sticks with their dads and had the same views on immigration and the union movement. Things changed a bit in the ’50s, when the word “teenager” was popularised. Because this gave kids permission to be different. Soon they were listening to the Rolling Stones and not sitting up straight at the table. Often because of what they’d been smoking.
My dad used to listen to the music I played as though he were being tortured. And he would often point at the crotch on my extremely tight loon trousers and explain that unless the scrotum was allowed some room for movement, I’d never be able to father children.
But I did, and it’s as though I’ve brought aliens into the world. They drink in moderation – and if they overdo it, they punish themselves with a run. They really do. They also go to the gym, with cups made from bark, and at weekends they go for bracing walks, stopping once in a while to discuss new and interesting ways of not being racist and what straws should be made from. All kids believe that our generation has killed the planet, too. I’ve tried to explain that I was in the pub at the time, but they don’t believe me.
All of which brings me to cars. We loved cars when we were growing up, but all that’s gone. Cars are just things that knock you over when you are crossing the road while looking at your phone. They are noisy and dirty, and after they’ve killed all the seals they’ll kill everything else too.
Naturally, advertising agencies have cottoned on to this, which is why all car adverts now feature a 30-year-old man, with stubble, in a kayak, with his multi-ethnic wife and children, going down some rapids before climbing a mountain and cycling back down to the tram stop.
Lifestyle advertising is not new. But it is new to sell a lifestyle that doesn’t involve the product you’re promoting. A Mercedes ad shows people running, cycling and going to the gym – and that’s because the young people being addressed aren’t remotely interested in the big 4×4 that’s being advertised.
And, I’m sorry, but if Mercedes is really so virtuous, why the hell would it make a car such as the AMG GT 63 S? This – a rival for the Porsche Panamera Turbo – is the most powerful Mercedes in the range. It produces 470kW and 900Nm, and will get from 0 to 100km/h in just over three seconds – a two-fingered salute to everyone who stars in adverts for Mercedes and everyone, frankly, who’s under 30.
I loved it. You can’t believe, after you’ve engaged the launch control, and put everything in Race mode, and asked the exhausts to go full Krakatoa, just how quickly it sets off. And how it keeps on pulling. Even in a straight line, on a dry road, the traction-control light keeps flickering on. Sometimes, there’s a whiff of turbo lag, but Mercedes is clearly not embarrassed about this because it provides a digital read-out to tell you when the rush is coming. And, oh boy, is it worth the wait. Because the speed is intoxicating.
It handles, too. Even though it’s oil-tanker huge, you can fling it into a bend and emerge on the other side wondering if you could have gone faster still. You probably could because, ooh, there are some choices to be made, like how firm you’d like the suspension to be, and whether you want to be able to drift. If you get everything right, you’ll be able to get round the Nürburgring in 7 minutes and 25 seconds. No four-seater car can do it faster.
So the GT 63 S is hypercar-fast and race-car sharp, but the most astonishing thing about it is that in Comfort mode it’s a quiet, civilised grand tourer. It really is very comfortable, with space for two adults in the back and a massive boot. Faults? Well, although I’m a sucker for pillarless doors, I’m not going to say this is a good-looking car, because it isn’t. But the biggest problem is the conspicuousness of consumption. If you bought one, your children wouldn’t speak to you again. So it’s probably a good idea to wait for the rumoured 597kW version, which will be even faster. Because that one is a hybrid, and kids love that sort of thing.
Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4Matic
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol (470kW/900Nm)
Average fuel 11.3 litres per 100km
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars