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

Our Opinion

We like
Sportscar pace with everyday practicality, wet weather stability, AMG soundtrack
Room for improvement
Not enough seat support during enthusiastic driving, wild fuel thirst when pushed hard

Mercedes-Benz logo17 Jul 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

PILOTING any high-performance sedan on a closed and unlimited circuit is always a hoot, and while Bathurst's long straights and punishing corners were a great opportunity to test the Mercedes' potent performance, the exceptionally smooth surface is not a good indication of how the car will fare on public roads day to day.

That said, in a controlled environment and with a professional racing driver riding pillion, we were able to push one of the most popular AMG models way beyond the point that would be considered responsible off the circuit.

The new AMG C63 S will crack the national speed limit in just 4.0-seconds so having an opportunity to keep the boot in way beyond 100km/h revealed just how capable the C63 is.

With a significant amount of standing water at the start of Mountain Straight, acceleration away from the pits span the rear wheels with little provocation in the first three gears. With all settings in Sport mode, we liked how the ESC allows initial wheel-slip but will intervene later if the driver continues to be overzealous.

The invention of electronic stability control was undoubtedly a milestone for automotive technology, but the development of systems that allow drivers to feel like they are doing all the hard work is simply brilliant, and the C63 S system is no different.

A little too much left hand combined with a careless bash at the throttle while negotiating The Cutting snapped the AMG into a slide, revealing just how close and imposing the walls are and how effectively the ESC can prevent embarrassing situations.

With smoother instructions and more careful application of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo power, we managed to get most of the C63's 375kW down to the asphalt with surprising efficiency.

Continental rubber at each corner did a great job of clearing water and allowing sure-footed progress even as the speeds went skywards of 200km/h.

With such vile track conditions, it was hard to get a complete picture of the braking and handling, but despite the low grip, the ABS was not working as hard as we expected while the steering was still communicative.

When we did find enough grip to build lateral G-forces, we would have appreciated a little more beef in the seat side-bolsters and found we were working hard to stay in the seat, but more sedate driving was quite comfortable.

Pushing the C63 S hard around Bathurst's punishing and often unforgiving track in less than perfect conditions was daunting but thanks to a light and well-balanced chassis, we quickly built confidence in the Merc's wet-weather capability.

Many diehard AMG fans have been dreading the replacement of the outgoing naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 with a smaller turbocharged version, citing the common note-muffling effect of turbos as the main concern, but the engineers went to great lengths to preserve personality in the new model.

We were delighted to hear the same almost antisocial bellow has been retained with virtually no softening of the soundtrack associated with cars wearing the AMG badge.

While its character is authentic, we would have been happy with even a little more volume, especially after hearing the raucous noise produced by the AMG GT S sportscar that shares the same engine.

Wringing the lively V8 out to its limit produces a fantastic crack from the tailpipes on gear-shifts and proves you don't have to resort to synthetic or amplified engine sound played through the stereo for a satisfying experience.

Other car-makers take note.

For the latest generation C63, Mercedes has done a great job preserving both the comfort and build quality of its accomplished C-Class and the mongrel character of AMG – at least on the circuit.

While flying around a drenched circuit at speeds rarely below the national limit it is easy to forget that the AMG C63 S also offers room for five on board, a decent-sized boot and the ability to use just 8.6 litres of fuel per 100km.

Not that we came even close to that figure.

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