Monster V8 rumbles into our Garage.
First published in the March 2016 issue of Wheels magazine, Australia’s most experienced and most trusted car magazine since 1953.
MY NEW long-term ride has arrived with a bang – literally, according to neighbour Amber, who thinks the C63 S’s sports exhaust sounds like a bomb going off when I crank it over in the backyard.
In Lamborghini fashion, a cold start in the twin-turbo V8 AMG means a fairly high initial idle and, if the centre-console button with dual-exhaust icon is depressed, enough bass to rattle a neighbourhood that appears to have more interest in efficient public transport than the machismo of AMG’s breathed-upon Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Exhaust rumble aside, this Iridium Silver Mercedes-AMG C63 S has blended into the local landscape a little more politely than the black BMW M4 manual coupe I piloted for four months a year ago. The litany of high-vis-wearing workmen renovating and constructing like crazy in Sydney’s Inner West appear to care less for the AMG’s subtly flared bodywork and ‘stock’ star-shaped 19-inch wheels than they did for the M4’s black-on-black badness, though I reckon that’s a good thing.
Only those who truly appreciate automotive aggression will spot this C63’s carbon-ceramic front brake rotors ($9900 extra) and four massive bronze-painted calipers, as well as its semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres ($1200), but that’s part of the beauty of this car. It’s not trying to be anything more than it is, though the sum of its parts produces a pretty stupendous overall tally. A twin-turbo V8, brilliant AMG Performance sports seats, a panoramic glass roof and a thunderous 13-speaker Burmester stereo will do that to a car.
Multi-digit, dial-and-touchpad control interface is reasonably intuitive, allowing you to scrawl letters and numbers, or twist and press.
But don’t be fooled by its relatively understated exterior. This is a pretty serious performance car – certainly more serious than I’d expected. Given I was coming into this long-term loan cold (I hadn’t even sat in a W205 C63), its very disciplined ride, even in Comfort mode, and sports-focused transmission came as something of a surprise.
The C63’s ride is fine for my tolerant cheeks, though others have expressed a desire for greater compliance. And the Speedshift-MCT seven-speed transmission takes some getting used to. In Comfort drivetrain mode, it always starts in second gear, which means off-the-line getaways require a fair amount of right-foot travel to muster all that turbocharged torque into action. And if you’re in a hurry, it can be inordinately slow to obey commands and get moving. The more you try and rush it – particularly when engaging reverse – the slower it seems to be … which sounds just like me getting ready to go out. Snap!
The carbon brakes have proven superbly effective in town, without any screeching or dead-pedal response, even when cold. And while the semi-slicks require some care during a Sydney rain dump, they’re grippier than you’d think. That said, even in the dry, with ESP Sport hiding in the wings, the C63 S has more than enough muscle to break traction.
When I collected 1DF-6IS from Mercedes-Benz’s warehouse in December, it was parked in front of a white Edition 1 Estate, with black 19s, red accents and all the toughness I’d have probably ordered myself had a $165K performance car been on the shopping list. But I now really appreciate this silver sedan’s understated menace. Especially after my gauche Christmas ride (see below). Here’s hoping the police view it the same way when I inevitably tackle the Putty Road to the Hunter Valley in the coming weeks.
Given that many C63 S (and E63 S) owners also possess an AMG SUV of some kind, my Christmas companion was just that – a GLE63 S Coupe, in glossy white with silver 22s and side steps. Not my choice in livery, that’s for sure, but its elevated driving position proved brilliant for spotting the police up ahead during NSW’s double-demerit blitz, and its burbly V8 never stopped filling the cabin with lusciousness. Back seat flipped and loaded with enough gear for a week inland from Byron Bay, the GLE63 S served us well, though craggy, narrow back roads exposed its truck-like size and weight, and its Harman/Kardon stereo proved unexpectedly mediocre. Reasonable economy, though – 14.7L/100km over 1911km at an average of 68km/h – especially compared to the C63’s full-traffic figure of 23.3L/100km…
Read part one of our Mercedes-AMG C63 S long-term car review.
Mercedes-AMG C63 S
Price as tested: $165,610
Part 1: 368km @ 23.3L/100km
Overall: 368km @ 23.3L/100km
Date acquired: December 2015