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First drive: Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Richard Pardon.

First drive: Mercedes-AMG C 63 S
Nobody needs the S version of the thrilling new Mercedes-AMG C 63, but by 'eck you'll want it.

   



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Mercedes-AMG C 63 S

5 5 5 5 5

The new Mercedes-AMG C 63 has arrived, sporting a new badge, a biturbo V8 with up to 510hp and a playful rear-drive chassis that won't scare the uninitiated off. It's formidable even in 'entry-level' 476hp guise and positively epic as the range-topping S model.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Mercedes-AMG C 63 S
Pricing: starts at 59,795 on-the-road; as tested was 66,545
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, seven-speed Speedshift automatic
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 192g/km (Band J, 265 per year)
Combined economy: 34.5mpg
Top speed: 180mph (optionally upgraded from 155mph)
0-62mph: 4.0 seconds
Power: 510hp at 5,500- to 6,250rpm
Torque: 700Nm at 1,750- to 4,500rpm
Boot space: 435 litres
EuroNCAP ratings: adult: 92%; child: 84%; pedestrian: 77%; safety assist: 70

What's this?

Only the second car to wear the new Mercedes-AMG badge and the BMW M3 Saloon's biggest adversary. The new C 63 carries on the rear-drive, V8-engined formula of its predecessor, but the ingredients have changed somewhat. That mellifluous powerplant up front is now very similar to that found in the Mercedes-AMG GT sports car; the only major difference is the use of conventional (though baffled) wet sump lubrication in the C-Class. It breathes through two turbochargers and produces 476hp and 650Nm as standard - or 510hp and 700Nm in C 63 S guise as tested here. That's bolted to the seven-speed 'Speedshift' automatic transmission and drive to the rear wheels is via either a mechanical limited slip differential in the standard car or a more sophisticated item with electronic control in the S. Naturally all this makes it the fastest derivative of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class yet, with 0-62mph in as little as 4.0 seconds for the C 63 S. That's for the four-door saloon version, but Mercedes-AMG will offer both models in estate guise too and there's a scant tenth or two of a second between them all.

The chassis of the C-Class has come in for considerable attention by AMG, with wider tracks front and rear, new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars all-round. Three-setting adaptive damping is also included, along with various driving modes, while the S model features an extra 'Race' option. A new braking system includes 390mm drilled discs up front and 360mm items at the back, though AMG offers a ceramic upgrade for a not inconsiderable 4,285.

A bespoke, though relatively subtle, exterior makeover marks the C 63 out, including quad exhausts, while the C 63 S is embellished further. The interior features plenty of AMG-specific items, such as an IWC clock, flat-bottomed steering wheel and new instruments. The S model adds lovely AMG Performance Seats as well. The standard specification is quite generous, though so it should be with a starting price of 59,795 on-the-road (BMW's M3 Saloon is 56,590 in manual guise or 59,085 with the dual-clutch automatic). The regular C 63 Estate is the pick of the line-up in our eyes, priced from 60,995. The C 63 S, in saloon and estate guises, is 66,545 and 67,745 respectively.

How does it drive?

Brilliantly. While retaining the slightly unhinged feeling of the previous C 63 AMG when you're pushing on, it's a more civil car than before at a cruise and less intimidating to drive quickly than the BMW M3/M4. In short, it's a fantastic all-rounder. Saying that, it wears its performance card on its sleeve, especially if you go for the optional, switchable (1,000) AMG exhaust system. It rumbles menacingly at low revs and around town, yet somehow isn't intrusive on the motorway. Admittedly, our test cars did exhibit a lot of wind noise and tyre roar at a high-speed cruise, but this is the sort of car that encourages you to find the more interesting route anyway.

And the more you push it, the more alive it feels. In Sport mode it's fast and fun, though still quite benign. The traction and stability control systems intervene quickly, yet relatively seamlessly to keep things neat and tidy. Anybody could jump into the C 63 in this mode and comfortably drive it at pace down a challenging road. Turn things up to Sport + and it feels a little more senior, though sensibly Mercedes-AMG lets the driver alter the electronic safety net separately to everything else. For that there are three settings too: on, Sport and off. The mid setting is ideal for fast road use, allowing plenty of movement in the chassis so you feel engaged in the process of cornering, yet without the fear of overcooking things on the exit of a corner. It should be useful on wet roads too. On dry and smooth tarmac there's little fear to be had from turning the traction control off fully. There's loads of communication through the chassis (if not so much through the otherwise alert steering) so you always know how much grip there is available. Lurid power slides are there for the taking on track, but on the road, it's easy to get into a deeply satisfying groove of balancing the car into and through sequences of tight corners. Front-end grip is mighty, yet that doesn't come at the expense of a twitchy or overly pointy rear-end. Yes, it will move around a little if you want it to, but the overriding sense is one of stability, balance and composure. It's a beautifully judged chassis, aided by fabulous brakes.

Of course, the barrel-chested V8 engine adds to the sense of occasion no end. It's easy to forget that it's turbocharged such is its super-quick response to the throttle at seemingly any speed, though you are aware of the occasional whistle or flutter from it that wouldn't be found in a naturally aspirated engine. By any measure it sounds mighty, whether it's rumbling around at low speeds or approaching its rev limiter with a bass-rich staccato. And the best news is that, while the C 63 S is appreciably faster, the entry-level car doesn't feel lacking in any department.

Verdict

Mercedes-AMG is on a roll. It has taken the heart of its fabulous GT sports car and transplanted it into a brilliantly re-engineered C-Class chassis to create the best compact sports saloon money can buy right now. It's about the same price as the BMW M3 it outguns and it can be had in estate guise. Outstanding.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 12 Mar 2015



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2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.



2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.
 

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.
 

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.
 

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.
 

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.
 

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.
 

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.
 

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Richard Pardon.
 

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.
 

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.
 

2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image by Mercedes-AMG.
 






 

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