By on July 1, 2015

C 250 d 4MATIC sets record at Pikes Peak

At the conclusion of this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Mercedes-Benz issued a release claiming a new record: the Mercedes-Benz C250d 4MATIC was the fastest production diesel to ever make it from base camp to summit. Driven by Uwe Nittel, the compression-ignition, tri-star sedan navigated the mountain’s 156 corners in 11 minutes 22 seconds.

Since the manufacturer-favorite Nürburgring has imposed speed restrictions at certain high speed sections and outright banned hot lap record attempts, a new battleground is needed.

Will that frontline be in Colorado?

Like the public toll road in Germany, Pikes Peak is a public road every other weekend out of the year. However, unlike the ‘Ring, there is a speed limit and – when pushing to find the elusive 11/10ths – an increased chance of death.

This year saw loss of life with motorcycle rider Carl Sorensen and last year was marred by the death of another two-wheeled racer, Bobby Goodin. In all, including Sorensen and Goodin, six racers have succumbed to injuries as a result of crashes at the PPIHC – four of those in the last 15 years as speeds have skyrocketed and the road has transformed from gravel thoroughfare to mountain-scarring ribbon of tarmac thanks to a lawsuit by the Sierra Club.

It’s against this backdrop of danger manufacturers of two- and four-wheeled machines now find renewed interest in Pikes Peak. Recently, it was the only American thing to catch the interest of Peugeot. Piloted by 9-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb, the French brand brought their Peugeot 208 T16 race car to Pikes Peak in an effort to take the overall course record.

They succeeded.

But, it isn’t these Unlimited Class specials that will be of interest in the future at PPIHC.

The road, now completely paved, can offer conditions much more applicable to daily road car use. For their part, Mercedes-Benz has attempted to capitalize by sending a car to Colorado that fills a very small niche – diesel-powered cars – favorable to their successful record-claiming endeavor.

Other alternative drivetrains are showing up in Colorado, as well. With output decreasing for internal combustion engines as the air gets thinner, electric vehicles can show their worth as they torque their way to the top.

Conventional engines still have a future in the automotive market. However, with a shorter distance to climb and a variety of corners to navigate, Pikes Peak may become home to many new auditory delights, even if it’s interspersed with corporate chest-thumping.

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22 Comments on “With Nürburgring Records Dead, Automakers Begin Pikes Peak Chest-Thumping...”


  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Driven that road many times. There are a few rather horrific drops-off. It strikes me as a far more risky road than what I have seen in many Nurburgring videos.

  • avatar

    It’s so ridiculous that automobile enthusiasm has to rely on esoteric numbers like Nurburgring lap times.

    #1 the vast majority of buyers have no idea where the nurb is.
    #2 the vast majority of buyers will never drive on it.
    #3 the vast majority of buyers can’t spell “nurburgring”.

    It’s useless data.

    I live in NYC and the streets literally destroy the bottoms of my cars just by driving at 30 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Sounds like you need a RAM. It’ll glide over the mean streets of NYC.

    • 0 avatar
      Baldpeak

      Oh well, it’s better than 0-60 times. Now almost every car has gearing optimized for 0-60. But then again, Pike’s Peak will unfairly penalize normally aspirated cars, and favor turbos and electric.

    • 0 avatar

      See, a ring of Manhattan would be a much better test. A variety of road surfaces, elevation changes, and unpredictable livery cars make this a test of man and machine.

      Just don’t make Afroduck’s errors. Remove your ez pass tag (there are readers all over, for “statistical” purposes…uh huh) and wait at least a year to post your you tube video.

      I was at a car show today. Lots of loverly rides, and easily half would DNF a hot lap of Manhattan island for no ground clearance.

      I’m kidding….although watching autobahn specials sitting in traffic on the FDR drive, in stop and go traffic, is the very definiton of futility.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I’d like to see GM introduce a Duramax 6.6L for the Camaro Tuned for speed. 700 HP, 1000 lb-ft TQ.

    That is all.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    If you want to earn your spurs by completing a death trap, the Isle of Man would be closer for the european makes. I’m sure something could be worked out.

    When I first became aware of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb it was people like the Unsers driving domestic cars. IIRC Jerry Unser in a 57 Ford was as far back as I recall. It’s as unaffordable as most racing now. Btw the pavement may make the speeds higher but it seems that the participants are right at the ragged edge of control either way.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Sports car makers are desperate for any metric, no matter how far removed from the daily ownership experience, to convince buyers that they need to pay more money to upgrade to their most expensive models and options.

    If they didn’t, people would eventually figure out that on public roads there is very little difference between the speed of GT Mustang and an M3/4 or that the Scat Pack Challenger can destroy tires just as well as a Hellcat.

    It’s all about providing a theoretical yardstick against which the egos of auto buyers can be measured and monetized.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    God, I hope so.

    Pikes Peak is awesome, and if manufacturers started a dick-waving contest with Vipers and -V and AMG cars, I would probably buy a condo down there. As is, it’s a 2 hour drive from Denver, and it’s a fantastic road.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    The test drivers might need to start wearing parachutes (and the vehicles have special quick-release doors). :P

  • avatar

    If you ever have a chance to witness a PPHC, go. Its a true fun events. Folks from all over get there early. Once all the racers are up the summit, they drive back down, waving to and high living fans as they descend. Throw in a chance to experience all four seasons in one day if you climb to the Devils playground and you have a truly memorable event.

    It would be interesting to see PP replace the Ring. As he event is only once a year, there would be serious prep. As the cars are all racecourse they safety standards would prevent some of the corporate nonsense of taking a street car. Finally, a lot o folks don’t realize how punishing 12 minutes or less can be on that mountain. Its a worthy title to hang outside your dealership.

  • avatar
    brianyates

    Mark, a great clip, it’s good to see PSA out in front again. What size engine did they put in the 208?

    • 0 avatar

      It was a 3.2L TT V6 with 875bhp. I haven’t seen that car do anything since 2013. Seems like a bit of a waste.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Odd you haven’t heard about these two appearances, Mark.

        The 208 T16 Pikes Peak was immediately taken to Goodwood Speed Weeks after Pikes Peak in 2013:

        “the Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak was driven by Peugeot Sport test-driver Gregory Guilvert who completed the short hillclimb in just 45.86 seconds. While that time is indeed extremely impressive, it is some 4 seconds short of the overall record set by Nick Heidfeld back in 1999 in a Formula One car.”

        So last year, 2014, Peugeot dug up Loeb for Goodwood, and he did it in 44.60secs. There’s all sorts of coverage on the web and You Tube. Basically, he said the gearing was too short, and he was on the rev-limiter on the lower part of the course.

        This year, a couple of 800 hp Subaru STIs tried to beat Loeb’s time last weekend, and failed by 0.3 seconds, despite having correct gearing.

        So now you know.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Didn’t Suzuki win the Pike’s Peak race for a while? I remember their red Pike’s Peak ____ whatever it was. Alto?

  • avatar
    Joshua Johnson

    I drove to the top of Pikes Peak a few years ago in my Jaguar S-Type R, and the trip up and down is an absolute blast provided there is little traffic. However, the trip up and down is indeed very punishing on the cars if you bring any modicum of speed to the equation.

    Going up can easily send your coolant to boiling. I had to stop two or three times to wait for the engine to cool after watching the needle move towards the red. Additionally, being at such altitude reduces power considerably on both FI cars (about 1.5% per 1,000 feet) and non-FI cars (about 3% per 1,000 feet), meaning you need that much more throttle force to get going. Having a supercharger really helped me in this regard and it is intoxicating listening to that whine as it pulls the car.

    Going down is hard on the brakes, even with significant coasting, due to the number of sharp corners and the fact that there is oftentimes considerable traffic with other drivers riding their brakes. The park recommends placing your car in 1st gear or low gear, but that doesn’t help all that much with slower drivers which there is an abundance of. Fortunately there is a brake inspection on the way down at the half way point to ensure the typical family transport does not completely lose braking power.

    These limitations notwithstanding, it is still an absolute blast to drive up and down such a monstrously large mountain. I would recommend anyone passing through the area to check it out, even in a Camcord or other family transport.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      When my 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse was new I drove it up Pikes Peak. It overheated twice. After the second instance I realized I had another radiator . . . the heater core. I turned up the heat full temp and full fan. The Temperature gauge fell, and I just rolled on up to the top, no problem. Could not avoid the wry mental smile in my mind that in 1971 I drove a Vega up the same road and it did not overheat.

  • avatar
    Carilloskis

    The current production car record is held by the Range Rover sport supercharged w/ dynamic package. Pikes peak will not be the standard because the high elevation favors supercharged and turbo charged vehicles with awd/4wd systems. You go from under 7000 feet to over 14 other than on pikes peak you will not see any roads like that they should just pick a different race track.

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