C63 BLACK SERIES: THE PERFECT ROAD CAR?
Harris finds that, despite its trackday aggression, the C63 Black makes the perfect road-trip companion
The road less travelled
We started out mid-afternoon from Betws-y-Coed and wiggled a route through Bala and through the guts of Wales. We didn't see much traffic, and within a few miles I was reminded just how liberating a great road drive can be: if track driving is pounding lengths in a swimming pool, the endlessly changing highways and hedgerow-heights of the Principality are the open ocean - they're uninhibited and unpredictable, and most of all they lead somewhere. In this case my own bed after several days away. All of this combines into a completely different experience to simply extracting maximum performance at a dedicated location.
Why road trips are tough
On that drive it had the chance to demonstrate every one of those traits, and I suppose that's what sets road-journeying apart from any other motoring discipline - it requires more of a car in every dynamic area. That's why track-tests will only ever be a sideshow to the main event: unless you have a dedicated track-car, the majority of your driving will always be on the public road. Yet so many of the fast cars I drive are either poorly suited to - or just plain unsuitable for - everyday road use. And what is it that normally renders them pointless? Not power, or torque, or squeaky brakes, or even weather protection - no, it's harsh suspension that kills them for me.
It's just so pleasant to drive a car that works with its surroundings rather than fights them. In this respect it's the antithesis to the Nissan GT-R, a car which is faster in the dry and on a different planet in the wet, but which leaves you genuinely fatigued and frazzled after even a fairly short drive. When people ask me if they should buy a GT-R, I always ask if they mind NVH, because the GT-R is an NVH factory. The C63 Black is the opposite. It's also £30K more expensive.
It's not just about power
Torque and noise are chief among them. Personally, I love seeing that black and white de-restrict sign and leaving the motor in a lower gear just to feel it lug and pull. On a track, you just use the gear that gives the very best acceleration, but out in the real world in a C63 that just isn't practical, so you work with fewer revs and try to deliver yourself the best combination of acceptable thrust, noise, and efficiency.
I already knew that the C63 Black was a great road car, but it just got better and better during prolonged exposure, because it trod that fine line between excitement and irritation - providing heaps of the former and none of the latter.