The good thing about a UK drive is we can get straight to the nitty-gritty - and when it comes to driving the Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe on tricky British tarmac, there's plenty to investigate. Our first go in Affalterbach's 510hp bruiser took place during last year's summer heatwave on the winding asphalt of the Bilster Berg, but this time we're on Surrey roads in early March. For a 1.8-tonne car that provides its 510hp exclusively through rear wheels, that's potentially onerous. Here goes...
It's almost impossible to not start rooting for the C63 S as soon as you call those eight cylinders into action. You could leave the sports exhaust in its most restricted setting, when the 4.0-litre V8 emits only a foreboding, low frequency burble. But press the exhaust button - practically mandatory for PHers - placed to the left of your thigh and even a kiss of the throttle produces a growl so menacing it'll scare off cats as far as the neighbouring 'shire. Yes, this is a proper C63 alright. As far as start-ups go, it has so much more presence than anything on offer from Bavaria.
It properly looks the part, too. For a tester venturing towards the country from a London starting point, you'll see pedestrians wondering what it is that's making their kidneys vibrate, until they catch sight of the black coupe with black forged wheels sporting polished lips beneath brooding arches. If there's one thing bad about being inside a C63 of this spec, it's that you can't appreciate its muscular form as it burbles by. The cabin does, at least, provide an appropriate combination of comfort and low-set seating position to remind you of the car's focus. If the soundtrack weren't enough of a giveaway.
Not talking constantly talking about that V8 is difficult because, much like all the best AMGs to have come before it, the C63's powerplant dominates everything. Only now, in this facelift, there's the addition of a nine-speed wet clutch MCT, a replacement for the older and heavier seven-speed torque converter of the launch C63, to compliment it further. The unit's so effective in normal driving that you're barely aware of its toil as it slips smoothly up and down the cogs to keep the V8 in the most productive part of its torque band. Pleasingly, in Comfort mode the 'box is happy to stick with a higher gear and let the motor muscle you forward even when you squeeze the loud pedal. A downshift only happens when you really demand it, making the car feel all the more effortless.
Rotate the digital-screened dial on the right of the AMG steering wheel to I (for Individual) and then you're greeted with a range of customisation for the powertrain and driveline settings on the infotainment screen. OCD sufferers beware: you can waste hours attempting to find the best combination of engine, limited-slip diff and suspension settings (there are six drive programmes and four AMG dynamic settings within them). But, a good all-rounder for a proper drive looks something like this: Race for the engine, manual for the gearbox (obvs) and Master for the diff, but, leave the suspension in the middle ground Sport if you're on something that resembles a partly damp British B-road on a chilly March morning. This combination gives the car satisfying responses to your right foot and fingertips, but a forgiving-enough ride to allow the body to coast rather than crash over ridges.
With these modes selected, the C63 S becomes the surplus-of-power-and-torque-wielding rear-wheel driver you'd hope for. There's no need to drive the socks off it to embrace its chassis' balance; the newcomer is true to established AMG form by allowing you to drive it more smoothly and taking joy from chasing the throttle. No need to hustle the nose in, even if the steering rack is quick and the body roll minimal, because you can enjoy the adjustability provided by that ever-lively V8 up front. With the ESP switched off, AMG's nine-stage traction control system - pinched from the AMG GT R - comes into action and provides you with a wonderfully incremental range of adjustments. The 'diff, even in its most aggressive mode, never gets snappy and delivers the V8's muscle to the tarmac consistently, but you don't appreciate its effectiveness until you recover more control from the car's TC system.
We kicked off with the TC set in its safest zone and then gradually eased its assistance off as time went by - which emphasizes just how great the tech is during the learning stage of a car (in contrast to the night and day nature of so many alternatives) - before settling with it on seven, just three away from fully off. Not that the C63 S is too savage to be handled without intervention, but on a cold surface, it's reassuring to know the electronics are there in the background should the slip angle become too great. On our route in this setting, you're unaware of the TC's involvement - perhaps it didn't need to intervene - so the task of steering the AMG on its throttle is so very gratifying. It feels inherently natural.
If there's one complaint, it's that the brake pedal doesn't offer much in the way of feel, although the ceramic discs are certainly up to the job. Body control is not quite on par with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, either, so the process of threading this thick-winged German along a road isn't as entirely incisive, but at eight tenths the AMG feels sublime. You don't sprint down a path like a scolded rat but rather dance along a route using your right foot as pace setter both through and out of corners. The gearbox too, although far quicker than the old one, doesn't offer true sportscar-like thuds up and down the ratios, with a very slight delay between the pulling of the steering wheel-mounted paddle and the wet-clutch re-engaging with the next cog. Yet somehow, it feels well-matched to the C63's character. The red flashing shift lights on the dash make everything feel that bit more visceral, too.
So we like the Coupe, if that weren't already obvious. True, the lighter Alfa is a touch more agile and the next M3 - assuming it sports the same all-wheel drive hardware as the M5, will almost certainly be quicker across country - but the Mercedes-AMG car provides practically everything a driving enthusiast could ask for, and does it in a way which hardly limits its functionality as a two-door C-Class. More visits to the fuel pump will be needed, of course, but that's scant sacrifice for the drama that rolls back from the engine bay. In 2019 we're yet to meet a more enticing luxury two-door super-coupe.
SPECIFICATION | 2020 MERCEDES-AMG C63 S COUPE (W205)
Engine: 3,982cc twin-turbo V8
Transmission: 9-speed auto with lock-up clutch (MCT), rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 510@5,500-6,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 516@2,000-4,500rpm
Top speed: 180mph (electronically limited)
Weight: 1,820kg (EU, with driver)
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