Gary Paffett was left encouraged by Mercedes' new DTM car, the C-class Coupe, following its first proper test at Lausitz this week.
Paffett, the 2005 champion, was the only Mercedes driver present at the test, which also featured the 2012 machines from rival manufacturers Audi and BMW.
"It was a good test," said the 30-year-old Briton. "Testing in September is a lot earlier than normal, but then again, this is a new car that's quite different from what we're used to. There's lots of spec parts not built by us and we have to get used to using them. We have lots of work to do.
"But for a first test it went very well and we're very happy with the general reliability of the car and the performance of all the components."
Paffett said that one of the key differences between his current DTM racecar – a 2009-spec C-class sedan – and the new machine was in its similarities to an open-wheel car.
"First there's the paddle-shift gearbox, which is great for me because I'm used to it from testing the McLaren F1 car and it means I don't have to change my shifting style from car to car and makes the driving easier. Plus it's a clear indication that the DTM is moving forward in terms of technology," he said. "Also there's a wooden plank on the floor, like you get with an F1 car, so the Mercedes bottoms out like a single-seater, which is pretty fun."
He also played down suggestions that the DTM's move toward larger tires and wheels next year and simplified aerodynamics would mean a significant change in handling characteristics from the machines.
"It's still very much a DTM car – it hasn't changed that much," he added. "Yes, there's bigger tires so there's more mechanical grip than before, and the aerodynamics have changed, but it's not that significant. It may well mean you have more grip in the slower corners than before, and a bit less in the high-speed corners, but it all balances itself out."
Mercedes confirmed that it will join BMW in testing its new car at the Hungaroring on Sept. 21-22 and will return to Lausitz for three further days in October. A pair of three-day tests are also scheduled for Monteblanco in Spain before the end of the year.