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Thursday 4th August 2011

Driven: Mercedes C63 AMG Estate

Minor tweaks for Merc's C-class super-estate - is it still as good as ever?

Nothing new here...
Nothing new here...
As every chef (or diner, for that matter) knows, a judiciously applied sprinkling of salt can transform a dish. The ingredients remain the same, but a spot of salt can markedly improve your experience of already-present flavours.

So it is with the new Mercedes C63 AMG, which now receives the mid-life refresh that was applied to the rest of the rest of the C-class range back in the spring.

Essentially, that means a mild nose-job, with reworked headlamps, and a spruced-up interior. On the C63 there's also a newly styled bonnet, with an angular 'power' hump similar to the treatment of the C63 AMG Coupe's bonnet, where once were two bulbous, bulging lines.

...or here...
...or here...
But by far the most significant change for the C63 is the new gearbox. The old 7G tronic has been replaced by Merc's latest MCT-7 gearbox (which you'll also find, among other places, in the C63 AMG coupe).

The main technological difference is that the torque converter of the old car has been dropped in favour of a wet start-up clutch. This means that shifts between ratios are faster and more decisive. It's only a relatively minor change, but it has quite a significant effect the way the whole car feels.

Where the otherwise much-beloved C63 AMG on the PH Fleet can occasionally feel a little disjointed (searching for a ratio in automatic mode, or taking too long to give you one when requested it via the wheel-mounted paddles), the new gearbox is much more intuitive, helpful even. In essence, you are in the right gear quicker, more smoothly and for longer with the MCT-7 whichever of the four gearbox modes you pick (Comfort Sport, Sport Plus and Manual).

...ah, so that's what they've done...
...ah, so that's what they've done...
Our only gripe is that Sport Plus is perhaps a little too eager to provide maximum engine braking by changing down super-early, but this would doubtless be most useful on a track - and you can save Sport Plus for just that eventuality.

The glorious 451bhp 6.2-litre V8 carries on unchanged, too, so other than that minor niggle, the new transmission adds an extra layer of sheen to what is already a polished - and deeply appealing - riot of a V8 estate (and saloon, for that matter), albeit one with a marginally lumpen ride at lower speeds. Oh, and the new dash is much more befitting of what can easily become a £70k car if you plunder the options list too heavily, while the redesigned steering wheel is both a pleasant thing to hold and to behold.

The facelifted of the C63, in short, does exactly what a good facelift ought to: improves upon the flavour without spoiling the taste. Delicious.



Author: Riggers

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33 comments on this story

Last comment was by Riggers
on 5th August 2011