Mercedes-AMG C63: Review


There are two reasons manufacturers sometimes choose to hold the press launch for a new car on a particularly demanding road.

"We'll have to drive it in the UK for the final verdict"
"We'll have to drive it in the UK for the final verdict"
The first, and more cynical, is the belief that journos will be so impressed by the hallowed tarmac that they'll think the car is more interesting or accomplished than it is. Hence the number of boggo superminis and MPVs that make their debut on the Route Napoleon, or the spectacularly sinuous A397 from San Pedro to Ronda in southern Spain.

The second, which is definitely in play here, is confidence that the product can live up to expectations raised by a properly demanding road. And you'll struggle to find a more challenging road in the UK than the A822 from Dunkeld to Crieff. Dynamically it's an all-you-can eat buffet, offering everything from straights that make you wonder about a Scottish remake of Vanishing Point to a range of corners from ultra-fast to near-acute. Parts of it are beautifully surfaced, others feel like they've been laid straight over a peat bog and some of the cambers are so negative they're almost backward. On the narrower sections, there's the enlivening prospect of meeting oncoming traffic at speed.

If the C63 can deliver here, it can deliver everywhere.

Subtract two litres, replace with two turbos...
Subtract two litres, replace with two turbos...
Push becomes shove
The basics start as Dan reported from the international launch. The C63 is ludicrously fast, sounds brilliant and, although it can't quite match the charisma of its predecessor, certainly isn't short of personality. As with the AMG GT, it would be hard to grow bored of this engine which - despite downsizing and turbocharging - still delivers the sound and fury you expect from anything wearing an AMG badge.

It still sounds like a proper V8, from its wob-wob idle through to the sort of howling top end you suspect will trip the noise sensor at almost any UK circuit. It is in fact possible to spot the forced induction; inhibit kickdown by choosing the manual gearbox mode and then mash the throttle at 2,000rpm and there's a one-thousand-two-thousand pause before the boost fully arrives. And, as you get close to the 7,000rpm redline it starts to feel breathless in a way the old 6.2-litre M156 never did.

But then, the motor industry has long since established that performance gains cure almost all ills. And these are likely to be fairly minor niggles for anyone considering a car with a power output that outguns all obvious rivals to an almost embarrassing degree. That said, you'll likely be unsurprised to hear that, on tight-fitting Highland A-roads, I couldn't spot any obvious difference in pace between the standard 476hp C63 and the 510hp C63 S. Both were - to use the technical expression - naffing fast. And seemingly more so considering the huge grip generated by the chassis.

Sticky Situation
Bringing us to the most obvious change over the W204 C63 - adhesion, quantity thereof. Much of the charm of the old car was its muscle car handling balance, and its enthusiasm for taking directional instructions from your right foot. But it was also a characteristic you could grow tired of, especially when trying to make progress on a wet road, or with worn rear tyres.

"Hello, is that Hamish's tyre fitters?"
"Hello, is that Hamish's tyre fitters?"
The new car generates vastly more grip across the board, with changeable Scottish weather confirming that, even on a sodden hairpin, there's no throttle-induced slip to be had with the stability control active. As before there's a partial-off 'Sport Handling' mode which allows more throttle influence of the cornering line, up to allowing you to apply the fabled dab of oppo at lower speeds. But this feels more like a digitally permitted trick for scaring passengers rather than, as in the last C63, a partial shield against the innate hooliganism that lay beneath.

The suspension is brilliant. Active dampers come as standard, and the low speed ride feels firm even with these in their softest 'Comfort' mode. But the trade-off is outstanding body control when it comes to dealing with bumps or dips at higher speed - vertical movement is cancelled out in an almost magical fashion. 'Sport' feels pretty much optimal for fast road use, 'Sport Plus' gets a bit harsh on rougher surfaces but is still within tolerances if you want to feel like a hero.

The rest of the switchable mode stuff does feel a bit gimmicky. The Comfort engine map seems to put about an inch of elastic into the throttle cable and - in cars with the optional sports exhaust - the louder Sport Plus setting is the sort of thing that will get your neighbours hammering frozen sausages into your lawn if used at night. And it's not exactly quiet in its normal mode, either. As always, most owners will likely assign their favoured settings to the Individual mode and then just default to that.

Money, money, money
One interesting conclusion from two days in Scotland is that there's probably little point in going for the S version unless you're planning for regular track visits and really want its electronic rear diff. The standard car is already a fairly expensive proposition, and - although it's a subjective call - the other benefits of ticking the S box are marginal: a power increase you'll never feel on road, bigger wheels and fractionally larger discs. I also found the standard C63's standard seats more comfortable than the S's sports buckets.

Ooh, it's like Arnie in Armani isn't it!
Ooh, it's like Arnie in Armani isn't it!
And the official 34.5mpg fuel economy figure? Don't get your hopes up too high on that score. Resetting the trip before a gentle trundle got the computer readout to 25mpg after 15 miles of scrupulously legal progress. By contrast a similar distance of properly enthusiastic use saw 14.5mpg showing. Splitting the difference probably gives a good idea of what you're likely to see for real world use other than steady motorway cruising.

Which leads us to...
So yes, the C63 has got more sensible. It's faster and better equipped and more comfortable than its predecessor, and slightly less predisposed to doing big skids. In short, it's more grown up. But it still has plenty of character, plenty of AMG-ness - and the curiously reassuring knowledge that it shares its powerplant with a genuine sportscar. Merc's confidence in the launch venue was well placed.


MERCEDES-AMG C63/C63 S SALOON
Engine:
 3,982cc twin-turbo V8
Transmission: 7-speed auto with lock-up clutch (MCT), rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 476@5,500rpm/510@5,500rpm 
Torque (lb ft): 479@1,750-4,500rpm/516@1,750-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.1sec/4.0sec
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,715kg/1,730kg (EU, with 75 kg driver/luggage)
MPG: 34.5mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 192g/km
Price: £59,795/£66,545

MERCEDES-AMG C63/C63 S ESTATE
Engine:
 3,982cc twin-turbo V8
Transmission: 7-speed auto with lock-up clutch (MCT), rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 476@5,500rpm/510@5,500rpm 
Torque (lb ft): 479@1,750-4,500rpm/516@1,750-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.2sec/4.1sec
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,785kg/1,800kg (EU, with 75 kg driver/luggage)
MPG: 33.6mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 196g/km
Price: £60,995/£67,745












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Comments (60) Join the discussion on the forum

  • GTEYE 21 May 2015

    I'm not really gelling with the styling of the new C Class yet.

    It looks classy, but somehow not very dynamic. Almost a hint of Rover 75 about the rear quarters.

    And don't get me started on that naff Aldi iPad screen....

  • Axionknight 21 May 2015

    It looks crap compared to the model it replaced IMO, so do the non' cooking models, awful.

    Beast of a car though, even without the hallowed 6.2 V8!

  • 0000 21 May 2015



    They've made a hash of the styling, IMHO.

  • Quickmoose 21 May 2015

    GTEYE said:
    I'm not really gelling with the styling of the new C Class yet.

    It looks classy, but somehow not very dynamic. Almost a hint of Rover 75 about the rear quarters.

    And don't get me started on that naff Aldi iPad screen....
    this...all of this

  • tom scott 21 May 2015

    This and Dan's article on the 288 GTO are excellent pieces of motor journalism.
    You will be winning prizes soon if you go on like this!

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