Mercedes drivers Jamie Green and Gary Paffett both expect the new breed of DTM cars to be faster than the old machines from the beginning, despite the championship attempting to limit cornering speeds by cutting the amount of aerodynamic devices used this year.
The first major technical rule changes since the DTM's revival in 2000 have been introduced this year with cars now using 57 common parts, including the chassis, in a bid to drive down costs and increase driver safety.
A reduction in aerodynamic devices, such as the plethora of winglets that have appeared on the Mercedes and Audi machines over the past decade, has been offset by the allowance of a larger rear wing and wider tyres on the new breed of machinery. While this has produced the expected increase in mechanical grip, and therefore improved performance in slow corners, HWA teammates Green and Paffett said that in testing both were able to take more speed into fast bends in the C-coupe than in the old C-class saloon.
"We haven't really lost any downforce," Green said. "The wing is bigger and the diffuser is really long, plus the wider tires mean we have more grip at slow speeds.
"It's quite cool because as a driver you always want a faster car and the C-coupe definitely is a faster car [than the C-class], despite being heavier."
Paffett, who is one of three drivers partnering Green at HWA, said the speed increase was noticeable inside the car.
"The bigger tires make the car feel a lot less nervous, and with the increased aero and downforce, the high-speed stuff is faster," he said. "Coming into the stadium section at Hockenheim in the test a couple of weeks ago, you could really feel it. And when you come to brake for the hairpin [that follows it] you realize you have to brake a little earlier because you're coming at it from a higher speed.
"I think this makes it drive more like a single-seater and that will probably help the guys who have just joined Mercedes, like Robert Wickens and Roberto Merhi, to adapt quickly."
In the opening free practice session on Friday, Audi's Filipe Albuquerque was half a second faster than Bruno Spengler managed in the corresponding session a year ago, but 0.9sec slower than the fastest time in practice one at the 2011 season-ending round at the same circuit, leaving comparisons inconclusive for the moment.