Car reviews - Mercedes-AMG - C63 - S Cabriolet
Amazing engine, high levels of standard kit, a true entertainer
Room for improvement
A lot more expensive than donor car, just a four seater, could be too much of a show pony for some
9 Feb 2017
By TIM ROBSON
THE C63 range has been a phenomenal success for the Mercedes-AMG sub-brand, especially here in Australia, where the cars consistently figure near the top of the sales charts in Mercedes-AMGs worldwide rankings.
The latest iteration of the car has dropped the 6.2-litre naturally aspirated engine in favour of a potent (and more emissions-friendly) 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that’s shared with the GT, so while the name doesn’t make much sense any more, there’s no doubting its potential.
The Cabrio joins the sedan, wagon and coupe in the local line-up, and will, like its siblings, be offered only in the top S spec. At $179,900 plus on-road costs, it’s almost $18,000 dearer than the coupe on which it’s based.
The bespoke rear suspension, blistered body and angry engine all make it over to the cabrio untouched, though it gains about 225kg in body strengthening to cope with the lack of a roof.
The cabrio is a different beast to the coupe, though. Where the closed top two-door is a toey, angry, edgy handful right from the off, the cabrio is instantly more welcoming.
Thumb the start button, and even with the roof up, the gruff bellow of the V8 is instantly obvious, and pressing a button to open the muffler flaps doubles that racket.
The roof drops in 21 seconds, and can be done on the roll at speeds of up to 50km/h – as long as the cargo cover in the boot is in position. The soft-top itself is extra thick compared to the stock cabrio, and the rear window is a heated glass item.
Everything else is familiar Mercedes-AMG territory the large, solid alloy shift paddles, the perfectly shaped steering wheel, the supportive, comfortable seats – complete with a neck warmer – and a prodigious level of standard kit that includes Merc’s very clever Distronic radar cruise and a four-mode drive select switch with layers of control for dampers, shift patterns, throttle maps and traction controls.
The extra weight, and the way the body is built, instantly gives the cabrio a more feline, flowing nature that still suits the linear character of that monster engine. The extra heft, too, takes the edge off a suspension setup that in the coupe is positively spooky at times.
But the cabrio’s circus trick is when the roof is down and the exhaust valves are opened. In a world where extraverts are often frowned upon, the Merc is a gale of fresh air, with the bellow of its V8 echoing wildly back at you and directly into your brain.
Its ultimate pace is blunted by the extra weight, of that there is no doubt – but it’s still capable of the hundred dash in a nick over four seconds. You can let the seven-speed auto do its thing, or elect to shift yourself either way works perfectly well.
Massive brakes and sticky tyres – with 20-inch 285mm wide tyres on the rear and 255mm wide 19s up front – provide a reassuring backup, too.
When you’ve gotten it out of your system, the thicker roof of the C63 cabrio does quieten things down well, but the roof’s performance is offset by a lot of tyre roar coming back into the cabin from the large, sticky Michelins.
There’s a bit of wind rustle and rush around where the front and rear windows join the roof, too.
Comfort mode softens the suspension markedly, though – again, that’s the extra weight – which gives the cabrio arguably the best around-town ride quality of the four C63s.
Of course, it’s ultimately a very compromised car. It takes next to no luggage with the roof down, though it can handle a couple of medium-sized suitcases with the roof up. It can only carry four people, albeit in comfort, and its level of road noise is high, especially on coarse chip country roads.
None of that will matter, though, if you’re already looking at this car and thinking ‘this is perfect’. Merc itself doesn’t expect to move more than two or three hundred a year, but that handful of owners will be among the happiest in the whole C63 family.
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