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Friday 25th November 2011


PH FLEET: MERCEDES C63 AMG FAREWELL

PH's bean counters can breathe a sigh of relief - the gas-guzzling C63 has gone, but not before a final AMG blowout


No doubt about it, she's a beast. A quick thrap of throttle and she lunges forward with a ferocious gargling roar, annihilating her prey with an effortless swipe of gargantuan claw, then digging-in and catapulting forward as the next explosion of power erupts from her mighty heart.

CL63 drops 6.2 for 5.5-litre twin turbo
CL63 drops 6.2 for 5.5-litre twin turbo
Cough... OK, this isn't Top Gear, but there is something of the behemoth about the CL63 AMG. Not in the biblical sense, but it's definitely 'a thing of monstrous size or power' as per the modern usage and it does inspire colourful adjectives when you put your foot down. 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds is the quoted figure, along with a limited 155mph top speed.

That's what you get when you stick a 544hp, 5.5-litre bi-turbo AMG V8 into a car, even one as big and heavy as the CL. It's based on the S-Class platform as you know, albeit in shortened wheelbase form, but I was surprised to read that the CL weighs more than a comparatively-trimmed S. There's more structural metal to make up for the missing B pillars of the saloon, apparently.

Personally I think the CL63's sleek lines belie its size, because it's not until you stick it next to an Espace or SUV in Sainsbury's car park that you really appreciate how huge it is. It's the sort of car you need two supermarket-issue spaces for if you want to get the doors open, and my dear ol' mum had trouble reaching the passenger door handle to close it from the inside. Of course, speaking as a 6'4" behemoth myself, it's simply the ideal size for a gentleman's carriage of distinction.

544hp gets our Chris coming over lyrical
544hp gets our Chris coming over lyrical
Although there's a persistent rumble from the V8, there's little else 'raw' about the CL63, and I can imagine some potential buyers without a PHey V8 fetish might find the noise incongruous. Handling and ride are impressively controlled, but the steering isn't set up for feedback and it's comfortable and quick but not really much fun on a British B-road.

The (horrible) polished/lacquered wood-rimmed steering wheel in our test example sets the mood, which aspires to the fast gentleman's lounge club rather than anything sporty. The Merc can't match the bespoke feel of something like a Bentley Continental GT on whose door (at £122K ours had a few extra trimmings) it appears to be knocking, but then I suspect the price gap typically widens as buyers 'bespoke' the £135K Bentley.

Still, it's undeniably impressive, but it's not my favourite AMG, which remains the C63 wagon that PH spent the best part of 20,000 miles with - albeit the E63 runs it a close second.

AMG twin-turbo engine is now replacing 6.2
AMG twin-turbo engine is now replacing 6.2
We had a reminder of the E63 too, the week before the CL63 was dropped off. We've written about it before here, but it really is an epic machine, and I definitely side with the recent Autocar head-to-head verdict that put it ahead of the new BMW M5. It just feels more 'emotional', even having swapped the magnificent 6.2 V8 for the latest twin-turbo 5.5-litre.

Which is how I felt when it came to handing back the keys to our wonderful C63 a couple of weeks back. As an everyday 'all-rounder', the C's combination of raw power, ferocious noise, and well-sorted chassis make it pretty much unbeatable - assuming you can afford the gas.

Or indeed, if like me, you can't.

But would the CL63 make me want to stick with the AMG programme as I get older, fatter and (in some bizarre fantasy world) richer? Not really. I'm obviously meant to treat myself to an SLS Gullwing instead.

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Author: Chris-R