REVIEW | The 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is an executive car with a mad streak
The Mercedes-AMG C63 super sedan — along with its coupe and cabriolet cousins — was recently updated with some aesthetic and technical tweaks.
In addition to a more boldly styled rear diffuser, it now looks more the part of an AMG car with a redesigned front apron, darkened 19-inch wheels and a new Panamericana grille with vertical instead of horizontal louvres.
It’s the same grille used by other sporting Benzes such as the AMG GT two-seat supercar and gives the C63 an aggressive presence more befitting its growling V8 power. Behind the toothy grille resides the same 4.0l biturbo V8 engine as before, available in the regular C63 with outputs of 350kW/650Nm, or the C63 S version, which gets 375kW and 700Nm.
Another new feature in the updated C63 is a nine-speed AMG Speedshift transmission, which has two more gears than before and reacts more spontaneously to accelerator inputs.
We took the full-steroid C63 S to the Gerotek test centre near Pretoria for some high-performance testing and found that with the aid of a simple-to-use launch control system some heroic 0-100km/h times are attainable. It’s a matter of holding the brake with your left foot while revving it up, letting go of the brake and Houston we have lift off.
For a rear-wheel drive car the C63 S hooks up with excellent traction, with just the slightest tyre chirp as it shoots forward at a Ferrari-frightening pace. Mercedes claims a sea level 4.0 second 0-100km/h time for the C63 S, and our test car came close at Gauteng altitude with 4.2 secs as recorded by a Vbox.
The C63 S dominates this corner of the high-performance segment with its power, outgunning rivals such as the BMW M4 and Audi RS4. The Benz also has its top speed electronically governed to 290km/h instead of the usual 250km/h, which is perhaps useful if you can find a long enough racetrack to test it.
But it’s the livid in-gear acceleration that makes this ballistic Benz such a pleasure to drive. There’s something addictive about the hesitation-free manner in which this Merc delivers its thrust.
When you’re in the mood, burying the throttle evokes such unashamed fury that you’re tempted to laugh out loud. With the sports exhaust set to its most vocal mode (being able to set this is an extra-cost option), the car roars with such primal passion you might even utter a small “yee ha”.
Not everyone gets turbocharged engines to howl this good, and I tip my hat to Merc’s sound engineers.
There’s a trend to pair this much power with all-wheel drive nowadays, but I found the rear-wheel drive Benz pretty controllable when driven in extremis. The stability control system does a solid job of keeping the car safely leashed during overexuberant driving, as does an understeer-reducing electronic limited-slip rear differential.
AMG Traction Control enables the slip on the rear axle to be controlled in nine stages, right up to a mode for those brave enough to attempt heroic power slides on racetracks.
Dynamic engine mounts vary their rigidity according to driving conditions. In high-paced driving they stiffen up to make the driver feel more connected to the vehicle, and steering response is more direct.
There are six driving modes that alter the car from just slightly mad to full spitting fury: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race and Individual, which change the responses of the engine, transmission, steering, suspension and exhaust sound.
The most watered-down mode makes the car less edgy and more comfortable to drive, but the anger’s always bubbling under.
An optional AMG Track Pace data logger provides telemetry when driving on a racetrack. Well-known racetracks such as, for example the Nürburgring or Spa Francorchamps, are pre-stored and it’s also possible to record your own circuits.
An interior update sees new trim and equipment details for the car, including, as a new option, grey-black upholstery with yellow contrasting stitching.
The built-in Touch Control buttons are a new feature. Much like the controls of old Blackberry phones (remember those?), they can be used to control the functions of the instrument cluster and the multimedia system by means of horizontal and vertical swiping movements of the finger.
Much of the cool technology isn’t included as standard and has to be purchased extra, including things such as the all-digital instrument display and the head-up display.
With a more conservation-conscious world inexorably headed to electric cars and downsized petrol engines, high-capacity V8 cars such as this will become a dying breed. Do you really need a Mercedes C-class that’s nearly powerful enough to affect the rotation of the Earth? Probably not, but while such cars are still considered a playful indulgence rather than frowned upon as if they were plastic straws, it’s a chance to enjoy an addictive blend of luxury and lusty power.
Type: V8 petrol biturbo
Type: Nine-speed automatic
Type: Rear-wheel drive
Top speed: 290km/h
0-100km/h: 4.0 seconds (claimed); 4.2 seconds (as tested)
Fuel consumption: 9.9l/100km (claimed); 11.2l/100km (as tested)
Tyre pressure monitors, automatic headlights, rain sensor, stability control, ABS brakes, front and side airbags, active lane keeping assist, active cruise control, blind spot assist, collision prevention assist, reversing camera, AMG Ride Control sports suspension, AMG Performance steering wheel, keyless start, nappa leather upholstery, climate control, infotainment system, automatically dimming mirrors, electrically adjustable front seats with heating
Warranty: Two years/unlimited distance
Maintenance plan: Five years/120,000km
Lease*: R32,995 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Mercedes-AMG C63 S
Performance, handling, style
Some of the best features cost extra
An executive car with a dash of playful madness
***Value For Money
BMW M4 CS, 338kW/600Nm — R1,864,341
Audi RS4 Avant, 331kW/600Nm — R1,211,500
Lexus RC F, 351kW/530Nm — R1,318,300