What is it?
It’s much more than just a two-door Mercedes-AMG C63 S sedan (or wagon). Firstly, the 12-link rear axle is unique to the coupe and it provides a 50mm wider track compared to the sedan. As a consequence, the flared rear guards make the AMG S Coupe 66mm wider than the new C-Class Coupe on which the body is based (it’s also 64mm wider at the front). This broad body allows for standard-fit 255/35 R19 front tyres and 285/30 R19 rears. We tested the car on Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber, but track-focused Michelin Cup 2s are available, as are 20-inch rear wheels with 285/30 rubber.
Engine, transmission, 0-100km/h time
The C63 S Coupe’s twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 is already familiar from both the sedan and wagon variants of the C63, along with a slightly different version found in the AMG GT S. Here, as in the other C63 S models (Australia will only take the top-spec S variant), the 3982cc engine makes 375kW from 5500-6250rpm and 700Nm from 1750-4500rpm. On paper, that looks like every other modern turbocharged performance engine, but the AMG V8 isn’t dulled by all that turbocharged torque and throttle response is phenomenal for a car with forced induction. I’ve yet to drive a Ferrari 488 GTB, but those members of the evo crew who’ve had the pleasure suggest that in the pantheon of turbocharged engines, only the Ferrari’s V8 exceeds the AMG for crisp throttle response.
The engine’s fury is fed through a seven-speed MCT gearbox and electronic limited slip diff. Shift speed, along with powertrain and suspension settings are adjustable via the AMG Dynamic Select system. Manual shifting is available, but with the Dynamic Select in the top-shelf Race setting, the auto shifting is crisp and intuitive.
As expected, the C63 S Coupe’s performance is properly hardcore with a claimed 0-100km/h time of 3.9 seconds and a limited top speed of 290km/h. The way the C63 sledgehammers from 100-200km/h is addictive and hilarious.
What’s it like to drive?
It’s common for motoring journalists to bestow anthropomorphic traits upon a car, but the new C63 S Coupe really does feel alive with a character that’s beyond a collection of metal, plastic, glass, rubber, leather and carbonfibre parts. My scrawled notes from two days with the C63 S Coupe in southern Spain repeat the words, ‘natural’, ’honest’, ‘alive’.
Like most AMGs, much of the C63’s character is defined by its engine, but unlike some older models, its not dominated by the V8. Linear throttle response makes the engine feel naturally aspirated, and neither is the chassis or the driving experience overwhelmed by a dull wall of torque. And unlike the obviously turbocharged BMW M engines (both the M4’s six and the M5’s V8), the AMG’s V8 sounds incredible, with a deep rumble down low giving way to a powerful baritone through the mid-range and top-end. There are plenty of pops and bangs on the overrun, but you can quieten everything down by selecting comfort or eco mode for a cultured and expensive-sounding burble.
The front end is fast and grippy, and you can lean on it very hard but also trust its responses. Even from the passenger seat, you can feel how much response the front end has and how much faith the driver can place in its ability. But the superman front end is matched to a rear end that isn’t overwhelmed by the prodigious power and torque produced by the twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8. The engine’s incredibly linear delivery helps the rear end, as do the advanced electronics trimming torque and nipping at any excesses via the ESC. However, the C63 is more analogue than digital, and with ESC in its most lenient setting, the C63 can be coaxed into fairly broad slip angles. In fact, if you’re super smooth with you throttle and steering inputs, it almost feels like you’re driving without a safety net.
On the demanding Ascari circuit, the brakes (390mm front rotors, 360mm rears) coped admirably with the conflicting demands placed by a 375kW V8 and a 1725kg kerb weight. The circuit required a couple of serious hits to pull 150km/h out of the AMG, and by the end of the day, as would be reasonably expected, the brakes were a little grumbly. You can option 402mm carbon front rotors.
The fantastic Spanish roads on which we tested the AMG were not dissimilar to Australian roads (perhaps fractionally smoother) and the C63’s three-mode suspension shrugged them off with ease. Even the firmest Sport+ setting didn’t rattle the Coupe.
Obviously it’s the BMW M4 ($149,900) and to a lesser degree the Audi RS5 ($157,510) and Lexus RC F (from $133,110). In terms of raw pace, the C63 S is unlikely to be much quicker than the M4, and on a track that suits the BMW more, it might be slower. Compared to the Lexus and Audi, the AMG is on another planet in terms of performance and driver involvement. Without the benefit of back-to-back testing, it’s difficult to be definitive, but after two days on road and track, we’re confident that the C63 S Coupe is the superior drive to the BMW. Its engine is vastly more entertaining, yet also more linear in its responses. And the AMG has a better balance of chassis response across both axles. It’s honest dynamics telegraph building slip angles, and unlike the spiky M4, you never feel like you’re a step behind the car.
Local pricing will not be announced until closer to the C63 S Coupe’s Australian launch in the first quarter of next year but logically it must be more expensive than both the C63 sedan ($154,510) and wagon ($157,010). Of course, the recent price cuts to BMW’s M4 coupe and M3 sedan puts some pressure on the Mercedes-AMG positioning.
Regardless of the price at which the C63 S Coupe arrives, it will go straight to the top of the class. The new-generation car has chamfered off some of the rougher edges of the old model, but without diluting the character. That’s a hell of an achievement in an age where cars are getting outrageously fast, but a bit dull. There’s nothing slow or dull about the latest AMG masterpiece.
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– Jesse Taylor, Editor, evo Australia