Game Changers. It’s one thing to launch one when you are trying to catch up with the competition but when you’re already at the top of the pack and you do it anyway, well that takes serious guts. It’s a remarkable sign of confidence that AMG launches a revised model without giving it the normal power and torque upgrade, especially when that’s the first thing you think of when it comes to products from Affalterbach.
An ever-escalating power war is being played out across the automotive industry, juxtaposed against a fight to go green and autonomous. While every performance car manufacturer is locked in a struggle for more outrageous power outputs, Germany has long been the primary battleground. BMW M, Audi Sport and Mercedes-AMG have upped the ante with every successive generation, and it’s often been the brand from Affalterbach with the biggest artillery.
So it really is remarkable that the comprehensive mid-life upgrade to the C 63 S range (sedan, coupe, cabriolet and wagon) launches without a single extra kilowatt or additional Newton metre. Of course, the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 that nestles behind the revised Panamericana grille of the updated model musters 375kW and 700Nm, so there’ll be few who’ll feel short changed by the status quo.
Instead, for this significant mid-cycle upgrade, the engineers at Mercedes-AMG have focused on bringing to the C 63 S a level of driver technology and dynamic sophistication hitherto unseen at this end of the market. In fact, much of the tech is a direct trickle down from the track-honed GT R supercar.
Before we get to the new tech, it’s worth a quick refresher on the engine and the performance with which it endows the C 63 S. The 3982cc displacement is derived from an 83mm bore and a 92mm stroke. With a 10.5:1 static compression ratio, and the 4.0-litre swept capacity, the V8 delivers crisp throttle response to help eliminate turbo lag. The maximum torque is pegged at 700Nm and this is available from 1750rpm, that’s just over 1000rpm above idle. The full complement of 700Nm continues to hammer the kidneys until 4500rpm. By which stage power is beginning to swell and the 375kW peak is on tap from 5500-6250rpm. Maximum engine speed is 7000rpm, and, such is the engine’s willingness to rev, you need to keep your wits about you otherwise you can clatter into the rev-limiter.
The quickest of the refreshed C 63 range is the 63 S Coupe that reaches 100km/h in 3.9sec and is limited to 290km/h. The S Estate and Cabriolet models take 4.1 seconds to nail 100km/h from rest and both are limited to 280km/h. Opt for the sedan and you’ll split the Coupe and Estate/Cabriolet pair to reach 100km/h in four dead. Like the Coupe, the C 63 S sedan hits the speed limiter at 290km/h.
All C 63 models are fitted with the latest nine-speed AMG Speedshift MCT auto replacing the previous seven-speed unit. With a wet-clutch instead of the torque converter, not only is it lighter but the nine-speed unit also benefits from quicker response times under acceleration. In manual mode you can blissfully hit the engine’s limiter with the gearbox refusing to change up until you’ve flicked the right-hand paddle. And an electronic limited-slip diff is fitted to all models.
You can read more of the technical changes on page 92, but the revised C 63 S gets some serious chassis and driver-mode technology. The C 63 now gets AMG Traction Control – the same nine-stage system first seen on the GT R – and in AMG Dynamic Select there are also five predetermined driver modes, along with an Individual mode that allows you to choose the engine, gearbox, steering and exhaust settings. You also have AMG Ride Control (steel springs, adaptive dampers) to play with. Within Dynamic Select there is also AMG Dynamics, which enables you to manage the ESP settings and torque distribution to the rear axle through four further settings: Basic, Advanced, Pro and Master.
But enough of the spec sheet, what’s it like to drive? As a (significant) mid-life update, it’s no surprise that the new C 63 S drives very much like the first-gen twin-turbocharged model. Albeit one that’s been through a very thorough freshen up. Importantly, the bombastic C 63 traits that we know and love were all present and correct on each variant that we sampled on the international launch in Germany.
We wept when the naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 was phased out in favour of the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre unit, but we needed have worried. It’s full of character and fury, and delivers speed and sonic joy in spades. And, regardless of body style, the C 63 S is capital F fast. The V8 still delivers above and beyond both Audi’s and BMW’s six-cylinder alternatives, benefitting from its inherent power, torque, capacity and cylinder count advantages. The engine also displays sharper throttle response and a willingness to rev that its rivals can’t match. And thanks to the capacity and cylinder count advantage, it’s also smoother to drive at lower speeds.
The latter aspect is helped in this model by a noticeable improvement is the new nine-speed MCT Speedshift gearbox. Around town, the gearbox smothers shifts with an ease you’d expect in an out-and-out luxury car, but then the transmission can snap through a ratio with lightning speed when warranted. Not only are the shifts sharper and quicker, they feel better suited to the engine’s characteristics when you’re on an exciting stretch of road that only calls for third and fourth.
With half a day of lapping the fabulous Bilster Berg circuit and getting to know the new C 63 S, we can confidently declare that the revised model is more suited to circuit work than ever, offering a level of body control and steering alacrity previously unseen. The steering is a notable improvement, giving you the confidence to thread the C 63 S right to the apex. Importantly, the chassis feels balanced front to rear, so that the sharper steering doesn’t threaten to upset the rear axle, which itself does a remarkable job of feeding the engine’s outputs to the tarmac. But it’s that AMG Traction Control dial on the steering wheel that steals the show, as it adds a whole new and highly exploitable dimension to a car that we have loved from the start. It has turned the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S into a seriously polished tool.
A longer road drive, and more track time, awaits the C 63 S when it arrives in Australia soon, but off the back of this drive, we can be assured that it has lost none of its considerable character and charm. What’s also apparent is that it’s now an even more focused driver’s car, while also upping the luxury and usability stakes. As always, the C 63 S remains a lovable brute and one that would nicely round out any dream garage. Matthew O’Malley