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Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - C-Class - C63 AMG S Estate

Our Opinion

We like
Simply astonishing levels of performance, immensely flexible, well equipped
Room for improvement
Fussy passengers may find ride too firm (best to leave them at home!)


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13 Aug 2015

THE equation is a compelling one take a rear-wheel-drive station wagon, fit it with the V8 twin turbo engine from a genuine supercar and see what happens.

This, folks, is exactly what Mercedes-AMG has done with the C63 S Estate, and the results are utterly intoxicating.

Mercedes-Benz provides the base package in the form of its new W205 (or S205 in the case of the wagon) C-Class range, which has garnered a lot of positive publicity for its MRA chassis performance. Its in-house hot rod shop, AMG, tweaks the chassis and brake package before dropping the M177 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol powerhouse – that’s used in a slightly different spec in the AMG GT – under the bonnet.

A new bonnet, new bumper arrangement with additional cooling ability and 14mm wider guards are also bunged on.

The result? A rear-wheel-drive station wagon that pumps out 375kW and 700Nm, and can nail a 0-100km/h sprint in 4.1 seconds, while still returning fuel economy under nine litres per 100 kilometres.

The massive motor is backed by a clutch pack-equipped seven-speed automatic transmission, while a clever electronic limited slip diff helps to spread the prodigious output across the rear axle.

A dual-mode exhaust can deliver your grandparents to church on Sunday in quiet mode, or terrify children and small animals in the ‘loud’ setting. Its pair of turbos spin at 186,000rpm, it has the same cooling capacity as Merc’s 1000Nm V12 engine, and even has fluid-filled engine mounts that firm up under enthusiastic driving to further reinforce the chassis.

Monstrous brakes – front-only ceramics are an $9,900 option – are covered by 19-inch lightweight alloys shod in high-performance Michelin rubber, while electronically adjustable dampers at all four corners can be firmed up in three stages at the touch of a button.

It is, in short, a race car with a Bunnings-sized boot.

The interior, too, hasn’t missed the racer’s touch, with low-slung sports buckets facing a Dinamica-trimmed steering wheel. A multiple-mode Drive Select toggle changes the C63’s character with a single touch a mild-mannered, docile, quiet family wagon is transformed into a rumbling, menacing, back-road assassin in a heartbeat.

While the mode marked Race is enticing, the Sport Plus setting offers most of the traction and stability mode freedoms but with the confidence-inspiring addition of a safety net should our ambitions outweigh our talent on this moist, curvy day. The suspension firms up, the rear diff tightens and the steering weights nicely, while the exhaust leaves no doubts as to your intentions.

New to the C-Class – and hence the C63 – is the Individual mode for this test, for example, we turned the engine and transmission to Race mode, the stability systems to Sports Plus and the suspension to Comfort, to give the C63 a bit more compliance and confidence over the bumpy, damp roads on our test loop.

In short, the C63 is an absolute weapon, and an astonishingly flexible, capable, exciting car. Its power delivery is akin to a sledgehammer in a silken stocking, with zero turbo lag, a linear power curve and unburstable dams of torque flinging you down the road time and again.

The huge brakes wash off speed with bored aplomb, and we continually have to glance over our shoulders to reassure ourselves we are actually driving a station wagon. Grip, balance, poise… the C63 offers them up in spades.

Perhaps the nicest element of all is the way the C63 flatters its pilot, no matter how ham-fisted his or her inputs may be. It’s never edgy or frightening despite its prodigious capability, while its stability systems are so finely calibrated it’s nearly impossible to tell just how hard they are working to keep you out of the roadside scenery.

And all of this genuinely high-end performance comes packaged in in a comfortable five-seater with a great stereo, clever infotainment, wi-fi capability, terrific visibility and excellent safety credentials.

The C63 S Estate is a sleeper performance car in every sense of the word. Few will suspect its sheer breadth of ability just by glancing at it, but those who know will nod respectfully at the owner who has eschewed external glitz for one of the true performance car bargains of the modern age.

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