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First Drive: Mercedes-AMG lobs C63 S Coupe

Brutal beauty: The Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe will go head to head with the BMW M4 and the Audi RS5.

Second-generation Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe promises to be sharper than sedan


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13 May 2016

THE second-generation Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe offers more than enough power, performance and luxury appointments to bring the fight to its BMW 4 Series rival, according to the German car-maker.

On sale now with deliveries expected from July, the C63 S Coupe is priced from $162,400 plus on-road costs, a premium of $6500 over the sedan and $12,500 more than the BMW M4 coupe.

Despite the pricing gap to the C63 S coupe’s nearest rival, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific senior manager public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy pointed to enhanced equipment for its latest model.

“Compare equipment and kilowatts per dollar,” Mr McCarthy suggested at a media drive of the C63 S coupe at Sydney Motorsport Park this week.

“Our default position is put more equipment in, not take it out. Where it is positioned against our opposition, we’re very comfortable.”

Mr McCarthy said: “There is actually less cross-shopping than you would imagine” between the C63 S and M4 coupes because the two vehicles were such different personalities.

Over and above the C300 Coupe and its M4 rival, the C63 gains a digital TV tuner and panoramic sunroof. Heated front seats, adaptive LED high-beam plus and performance seats are further equipment additions over its one-tier-down $83,400 sibling.

The 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine in the coupe produces 375kW of power and 700Nm of torque, identical outputs to the sedan.

It is fitted with a seven-speed automatic transmission, however power was now sent to enlarged 280mm-wide 20-inch rear tyres, up from 19-inch tyres on the sedan and attached on the outside of a 50mm-wider rear track. A 19-inch tyre is maintained on the front of the C63 S Coupe but with 10mm extra tread width (255mm) over the sedan.

The aluminium bonnet of the coupe was stretched 60mm compared with the sedan, while flared wheel arches pushed overall width out by 64mm front/66mm rear versus the standard Mercedes C-Class Coupe.

Mercedes-AMG says additional suspension links were used in the coupe, however the design remains a multi-link set-up and the three-mode adaptive sports suspension set-up uses unchanged Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes.

Both Comfort and Sport can be individually selected for the adaptive sports exhaust, while all three settings were joined by a fourth Race mode acting on drivetrain and stability control settings.

The 1725kg C63 S coupe carries a weight penalty of 76kg compared with the sedan, however aided by extra traction its 0-100km/h claim of 3.9 seconds was a tenth quicker than the four-door.

It has an official fuel use figure of 8.7 litres per 100km and emits 202g/km of CO2.

Mr McCarthy said the alterations to the coupe were the biggest the brand has ever made and he expected this would help drum up unprecedented interest in the model.

“The fact that it’s quite different to the standard coupe and quite different to the sedan will bring a lot more people in,” he said, adding that the current order list for the coupe had notched up “100 or so”.

“I think because it’s a much sportier coupe than previously, I think it (the coupe) will lift (in sales) and I don’t expect we’ll have a supply issue,” he continued.

Asked whether Mercedes-Benz expects the C63 coupe would take sales from the existing sedan and wagon variants, Mr McCarthy replied, “No, it will broaden C63, it won’t steal from other variants in the range.”“A C63 coupe buyer is different to a sedan buyer,” he continued.

“Pretty much anyone who chooses a coupe they’re doing it for a reason, they’re doing it for the look. A rear seat is not as important to them, and I think this car dynamically is different, it’s a bit sharper and more focused.

“So I think it’s a sportier driver – not to say a C63 sedan buyer isn’t – but it’s much more focused on that.”

Mr McCarthy said a first-ever four-body style C63 range could this year double the nameplate’s outgoing sales record and the title of highest-selling AMG in the country could be claimed.

Last year the CLA45 was the top-selling AMG locally, but this year the A45 hatchback has been outselling its four-door ‘coupe’ sibling. The arrival of the C63 Coupe this month and C63 Cabriolet in December will be, however, expected to significantly bolster sales of the V8 rear-drive range.

“I think it will be a race between C63 and A45 this year (for highest-selling AMG),” Mr McCarthy said.

“We’re doing about five per month of C63 Estate, about 80 or so of C63 sedan (and) for coupe we’re probably looking at 30 or so, but I think it might be higher.”

If the forthcoming cabriolet were to average 13 per month, it would result in annual C63 sales of 1500, almost double the model’s best year in 2012 when a three-body style range tallied 765 units.

When the question was posed to Mr McCarthy whether a four-body style C63 range could achieve 1500 sales, he replied, “Yes that sounds good.”

Six laps of Sydney Motorsport Park were offered between two C63 S Coupes, the standard version and the Edition 1 special offered only at launch.

Mercedes-AMG claimed the $10,900 premium for the latter model, signified by its aerodynamics package, and matte grey paint with yellow exterior highlights and diamond-stitched seats, was good value given the model’s standard carbon ceramic brakes are a $9500 stand-alone option on the regular C63 S.

When accelerating out of pit lane, the new twin-turbo V8 is much quieter than the old naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 but it maintains an alluring growl as a peak 375kW is delivered between 5500rpm and 6250rpm.

Turning into the sharp hairpin of turn two, the steering of the Edition 1 is immediate and the weighting natural – there are no alternate steering modes – but the C63 S lacks the talkative feel of the old car when the front tyres are loaded up.

Patience is required on corner exit and the C63 S doesn’t appear to be possessed of the smooth-road turn-in response of an M4 coupe. With 700Nm delivers from 1750rpm until 4500rpm, however, this rear-wheel-driven AMG shares the BMW’s propensity to want to go sideways after merely breathing on the throttle. One of Mercedes’ Driving Academy expert drivers concurred.

Otherwise the C63’s throttle response appears more balanced and progressive than what we recall of its rival.

The Edition 1 is shod with Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2 tyres that are far gripper than the Continental ContiSport Contacts driven on the standard car for the laps following, which deliver an earlier onset of understeer.

Mercedes executives agreed with this assessment, but added that the Continentals should deliver less road noise and last longer. AMG also uses a Dunlop Sport Maxx tyre. The Michelins are noted as a $1200 option on the standard C63 S Coupe but are a no-cost option for Edition 1 buyers – all but closing the pricing gap between the two models when specified as such.

There is no doubt the carbon ceramic brakes of the Edition 1 deliver firmer brake pedal feel than the standard cross-drilled and ventilated steel discs of the standard model.

Back-to-back assessment between the C63 S sedan and coupe would be required to confidently pick differences between the two body styles.

The latest C63 S Coupe appears less of a loud-and-proud brute than the final C63 Edition 507 of last year. However, not by much. The downsized S-Class coupe styling of the new car looks more exotic than the previous two-door sedan-styled model and the richly appointed new cabin feels like $160K well spent.

While the M4 has been criticised for its dour engine note and lack of suspension control on rough roads since its launch two years ago, BMW’s M division has now responded with a Competition Pack with a revised chassis and new exhaust. Its pricing has still remained $7500 cheaper than this C63 S coupe.

Whether the Mercedes-AMG pricing premium was worth it in material terms – rather than with intangible image opinion – won’t be fully grasped until the C63 S is allowed on public roads in the months ahead.

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