Mercedes-AMG C63 S – First Drive

I think it’s safe to say that it has been a good year for Mercedes Benz, both locally and in the German head office. With no less than three World Car of the Year category winners, it’s definitely been a good year. Oh and not to mention the unyielding launches of new Mercedes Benz and Mercedes-AMG products, the three pointed star outfit is on a war path.

A war path is the subject of this report on the recently launched Mercedes-AMG(yes that’s the name now) C63 and C63 S editions. Created to joust squarely with the BMW M3 and anything that vaguely resembles a mid-size sedan-crossed-sportscar, the C63 AMG has again come to fight.

It’s based on the already popular and award-winning(World Car of the Year 2015) C-Class, but it’s beefed up muscle comes courtesy of a fantastic 4.0 litre V8 BiTurbo that dishes out 350kW in the C63 and 375kW in the C63 S. Those numbers only tell half the story. The other half is heard being heralded from the quad tailpipes in true AMG symphony sound. You can even choose whether you’d like the engine note to be a little throatier (read loud) or subdued (for the suburb folk).

Whilst Mercedes-AMG have opted to go with two turbos, it hasn’t messed with that tried and loved baritone rumble synonymous with those three letters of performance. Word has it that Tobias Moers, CEO of Mercedes-AMG listened to 53 different exhaust notes before he gave the go-ahead for this one. Well done Mr Moers – spot on!

The engine has immense punch even from quite lower down in the rev range and it’s delivered in a thrilling drama of lights, sound, speed and action. The benchmark 0-100km/h is dealt with in 4 or 4,1 seconds depending on whether you add the ‘S’uffix.

The Mercedes-AMG team in Affalterbach were focused on creating a car that was more versatile and easier to live with. If you recall the outgoing C63 AMG especially the 507 edition, you will understand the need for a more compliant ride on the new one. And in this regard, I have to give kudos to the new model for it’s depth of talent and flexibility.  Fitted with the AMG Ride Control, the car can be a comfortable, supple, easy to drive Mercedes-Benz C-Class. (Albeit with very different body styling, a multitude of exterior and interior design appointment options including an Edition 1 version). It is from this unsuspecting Head Boy citizen that the car can transform into the noise-polluting animal that had me so enthralled whilst I pelted it around the Zwartkops Race track lap after lap.

At speed, the car is still so easy to enjoy, provided you allow the safety systems to ply their trade and keep you in check. I observed the car being driven around the same track with the traction control switched off, and it makes for some pretty unclear viewing…with all the smoke emanating from the tyres. With dynamic engine mounts, a full complement of aero features such as a front wing splitter to reduce negative lift and of course, a rear wheel driven, limited slip differential-equipped car, you’re in for the time of your life in any performance environment.

Because I haven’t driven the BMW M3, I can’t make any comparisons but I can assure you that Mercedes-AMG has been very assertive in sticking to a principle of Driving Performance with everyday usability and comfort so my guess is that the two German rivals are actually very different interpretations of the same brief. That’s a good thing either way.

Having sold 511 of the old C63 AMG, Mercedes-Benz South Africa is hoping to sell double that number of the new version C63 and C63S. It’s a mighty target but one that isn’t too hard to believe will come true given the continued onslaught of new AMG model launches on the horizon and of course the budgets that go with marketing these cars.

The Mercedes-AMG C63 is a fantastic addition to sit at the top of the C-Class food chain. I love its versatility of understated elegance with a penchant for mayhem and hooliganism at the turn of a button. It’s incredibly fast…trust me on this. And it’s backed by the Mercedes-AMG service and DrivePlans from which there are a number to choose.

Pricing starts at R1,004,700 for the C63 and R1,163,800 for the C63S. For a little more aesthetic flair and exclusivity, you can opt for the Edition 1 package and that will set you back a further R211,000.

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