On a little prayer, the C63 takes us there.
First published in the August 2016 issue of Wheels magazine, Australia’s most experienced and most trusted car magazine since 1953.
THE warnings came like the sky was about to break: severe weather right down the east coast, nailing Sydney and its surrounds right about when I needed to point the Mercedes-AMG C63 north to attend a mate’s boozy LA homecoming.
Now, the sensible Nathan lurking somewhere deep inside would have ignored the Cup-tyred AMG sitting in the backyard and chosen the soothing suppleness of the Ford Mondeo Titanium Ecoboost parked out front. Believe me, I did consider it. But what kind of test would that be for this four-door sports car wearing the summeriest of summer tyres?
Orthopaedic pillow packed and tunes prepped – Madonna’s Like A Prayer has stood the test of time better than you’d think – the C63 casually thundered and threaded its way, at the sat-nav’s insistence, via the Lane Cove tunnel and up through Ryde to the Pacific Hwy and the M1. Nice change, I thought, even though I have a deep mistrust of sat-nav.
Besides the rejection of Madge’s vocal stylings by the centre dash speaker, its grille buzzing to each beat as if being put through interrogation, the trip to Wamberal was uneventful. A pleasantly brisk and tuneful 120km/h cruise up the freeway, a duck into Dan’s in West Gosford for refreshments, a servo stop for chewy, and an hour and 20 minutes later I was parked. Only the speed hump I accidentally nailed at 60km/h on Old Gosford Road invaded the calm.
The way home, on the other hand, was a different story. It began innocently enough, cruising down Ocean View Drive feeling slightly dusty, intending to catch a glimpse of the raging surf, but instead treated to blankets of salt spray and a wall of white. Terrigal Drive threw a fallen tree into the mix, while Erina offered up some flash flooding, like we were in an AAMI commercial, which the Benz barged its way through.
Then came the freeway and a pounding from above. For 30 minutes from Kariong to Wahroonga, the C63’s wipers never once cooled off from maximum thrust. I had the cruise set at 120km/h but the steep climb from Mooney Mooney Bridge saw rivers of water washing across the road, making any level of auto-pilot feel disconcerting, so I flicked it off, locked my thumbs onto the wheel spokes and hyper-focused.
Soon 120 became 110, then 85 as the C63 enjoyed moments of aquaplaning and the occasional drift of the right wheels into the breakdown lane. Nothing too serious, but enough for the odd intake of breath.
To maintain our pace on a road relatively free of traffic, I stuck to the centre lane through corners just in case 120km/h of forward momentum added an unwanted diagonal component to the mix, but the C63 did a top job of keeping its cool and powering through Mother Nature’s treachery.
The living end
Having spent nearly 3000km in a BMW M4 Coupe a year ago, the difference in liveability between the M car and the AMG is quite stark. Despite its manual transmission (which I loved), the M4 seemed the sweeter of the two in full urban conditions. Softer seat padding, a slightly less rigid ride and a properly round steering wheel made up for the greater difficulty manoeuvring the M4’s longer doors. But the C63’s bad-boy personality and greater dynamic finesse are hard to beat.
Read part three of our Mercedes-AMG C63 S long-term car review.
Mercedes-AMG C63 S
Price as tested: $165,610
Part 4: 373km @ 16.5L/100km
Overall: 3755km @ 14.5L/100km
Date acquired: December 2015