Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe This German muscle car was always going to have to deliver something special to justify its eye-watering price-tag. So did it?
It’s fitting that my last drive in the C63 S was one of the best: a one-day round-trip to Anglesey Circuit to drive the new 911 GT3. It was a long day in the saddle; one that started with a 4.30am alarm and finished with me arriving back home just before 9pm. In between was the best part of 500 miles of motorways, majestic A-roads and nadgety B-roads, all dispatched in effortless, engaging style.
As I’ve discovered over the last six months and nearly 10,000 miles, that’s the nub of the C63 experience. I’d never run a Mercedes before, let alone an AMG model. I suppose deep down I never considered myself a Merc person. This car has made me revise that belief. It did everything so well, and with such big-hearted enthusiasm that even if the journey was a stinker I always found plenty to savour about the car.
Star of the show is the 4-litre biturbo V8. In ‘S’ spec it’s an absolute powerhouse, feeling good for every last one of its 503bhp and 516lb ft. It’s smooth and refined, with a ton of endlessly elastic low and mid-range thrust, so in most situations you just dip into its vast reserves of performance. Yet when you do extend it, there’s proper fire at the top end. It’s a thoroughbred powerplant, no question. And fuel economy? I’m pleasantly surprised to report that over the six-month loan period the average was 22.9mpg. Yes, I saw sub-15mpg on a particularly enthusiastic commute to the evo offices, but the car countered that with a hugely impressive 29mpg on an epic 700-mile Cambridgeshire-Ayrshire- Cambridgeshire day-trip. Merc’s muscle cars aren’t the dipsomaniacs they used to be.
Being an AMG, there were plenty of modes to choose for the engine, gearbox, chassis and exhaust, from Comfort through Sport, Sport+ and Race. Comfort and Sport were my preferred and most-selected modes. They just seemed to offer the best blend of response, fuss-free pace and comfort for most trips. However, when I did elect to blitz a few A- and B-roads, Sport+ was hugely effective and great fun. The seven-ratio Speedshift automatic transmission could really up its game and was uncannily prescient with downshifts. Unless I was in a particularly committed frame of mind, Race mode was a bit full-on, but even that had its moments.
KN66 ZPB was very generously equipped, with options including carbon-ceramic brakes (£4285), lightweight forged alloys (£1735) and the AMG Driver’s Package (£765), which elevates the speed-limiter to 180mph. All in, the price shot up from £68,710 to £82,875: a lot of money for a BMW M4 rival. That said, the car’s fit, finish and looks backed up the big ticket. Sleek and compact, with a purposeful stance and a muscled physique, the C63 S had plenty of presence without showing off.
The leather, Alcantara and carbon interior was a delight, with the glass roof and Burmester hi-fi (part of the £2595 Premium Package) adding to the feel-good factor.
We often criticise cars for a lack of connection, and I was worried the C63 S might be a bit numb. Those concerns weren’t entirely unfounded, as it quickly became clear the Merc’s feedback was muted and finely filtered. The steering feel was hardly sparkling, but you could build a picture of what the front end was doing, and its rate of response was well judged. Just as importantly, the rear end’s communication skills were good enough that you always knew when traction was at a premium. I knew where I was with the car, in dry or wet conditions. It helped that the stability-control system was on the ball, and could be relaxed enough to let you have fun yet still remain effective when run in Sport mode. The ceramic brakes had great feel and made light work of stopping the 1725kg coupe, even when we had a quick hoon down the runway at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground.
The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres worked well through the winter and generated plenty of grip. And there was still a useful amount of meat left on them when the car went back. Must try harder next time.
Traction? Well, that was at the mercy of my right foot and/or the electronics, but I was surprised how much performance the software enabled you to deploy in the wet. In the dry, the car easily nailed 0-100mph in nine seconds, and I was amused to find it would hit 60mph in seven seconds while performing an epic rolling burnout.
Dislikes? Well, I quickly switched off most of the semi-autonomous driver-assist widgets (lane-assist and the like). The coasting mode, which disengages drive when you’re cruising off the throttle to save fuel, was annoying too, so I frequently switched that off as well.
I tend to miss long-term test cars when they go, but this one really got under my skin. It was special in ways that transcend objectivity, and I can honestly say I enjoyed every one of those 9955 miles. You can’t ask for more than that.
‘Star of the show is the 4-litre biturbo #V8
– in this spec it’s an absolute powerhouse ’
Date acquired October #2016
Duration of test 6 months
Total test mileage 9955
Overall mpg 22.9
Purchase price £82,875
Value today £62,500-68,000