There’s not that much of a variance in the underpinnings of the C 63 sedan and coupe, even if they look different. Does the more aggressive looking vehicle drive any better, and should BMW’s M4 be worried?
It’s back, the swoopy, ballsy, bellowing, two-door four-seater C 63 Coupe, but now with the Mercedes-AMG prefix, according to the new naming regime. And it’s different in a vast number of ways from its predecessor. Perhaps one of the oddest is that it loses almost 100L of luggage capacity, down from 433 to 355L, and it’s also tighter in the cheap seats, but that’s all in the interests of dramatic styling. On the capacity front, the engine displacement shrinks by just over one-third but critically it loses no cylinders. And by adding a pair of turbochargers, it also gives away nothing on the power front.
It even makes gains on the torque tally, up from 600Nm at 5200rpm to 700Nm kicking off at 1750rpm. Overall weight rises slightly, but it’s not enough to dampen enthusiasm for off-the-mark acceleration, the latest C 63 claimed to fire to one hundred in under four seconds. That’s enough to get the wood on the lighter six-potter M4 from BMW, and also outpace the C 63 sedan, which uses the same engine and lone fast-shifting seven-speed auto transmission. Why this should be we shall get to anon.
Mercedes-AMG aimed for significantly improved dynamics in the top C-Class Coupe, and the added track dimensions (+25mm) contribute. So too does extra rubber front (255/35ZR19s) and rear (285/30ZR20s), the overall width rising by 64-66mm. There’s a bespoke suspension set-up for the C 63 S Coupe, with firmer elastokinematics, and added negative camber. AMG Ride Control sports suspension includes three-stage adaptive damping, a Comfort setting for an easier ride on city streets, Sport for rural roads and Sport+ which essentially you’d reserve for track work.
We tried the latter on the open road, but preferred Sport for its extra compliance. There’s decent bump absorption and body control, and Sport is more appropriate for our typically uneven and rough secondary road environs. On that, AMG has added soundproofing in key areas, and that’s readily apparent using the dB meter. Despite extra rubber, the Coupe came in almost 3dB quieter, a much better result.
The body structure has been shored up to take into account the extra lateral acceleration potential, and that has had an effect on the kerb weight, the two-door scaling up at 1862kg fully fuelled. It’s said to be slightly lighter overall than the previous iteration but compared with the current AMG C 63 S sedan, it’s 60kg heavier, and uses the same powertrain so you’d expect it to be no quicker on the acceleration front. Yet it is; the added rubber at the rear clearly allows it get off the line a bit quicker.
Conditions at present aren’t exactly conducive to good times; low ambient temps mean the TC prevents the cleanest of get-aways. Still, twice it recorded 4.12sec, which is 0.2sec quicker than the S sedan thanks to those larger rear treads. We imagine a time in the high threes would be possible under the right conditions.
On the other hand, the sedan proved quicker 80-120, suggesting the wider rubber and overall weight disadvantage are to blame. Not much in it mind, 0.16sec. Anything down in the low 2’s is stupid-quick.
The Coupe does it all so easily too, especially in Sport mode. Around town, that locks out the idle-stop system. Stopped at the lights and in Comfort mode, there’s a bit much of a delay as it restarts, the turbos spool, and the auto transmission gets you mobile. In Sport, you’re off and running much quicker. And how. The turbos are on the case from 1500, as you’d expect given full torque is available 200rpm later, and so by 1800rpm when you’re easing along in top gear at 100km/h all the twist is to hand with a casual prod of the accelerator. Even on short straights there’s often enough room (64m required) to effect a pass, and the transmission is capable of multiple downshifts, up to four cogs at a time, for optimum go. From 3500rpm onwards this gains pace like few can.
If the loafers ahead weren’t aware of your presence when you warped up behind them, they will be when you overtake for the Coupe is louder than the sedan, and its performance exhaust has three different settings. In normal there’s the muted V8 burble, in Sport or Sport+ the valves open for the V8 rumble and in Race or track mode, it’s somehow louder still. Only you won’t want to use Race mode outside of a circuit setting, unless it’s to show off the Race Start mechanism. This is amongst the best in terms of ease of use. Simply select Race mode, pull both paddles until “Race Start available” pops up, pull the right paddle to confirm, floor the gas until the revs settle around 2500rpm and release the foot brake. You can do a few in relatively quick succession too, though only a couple are needed because each virtually overlays the previous run on the same surface. The noise on full bore acceleration is epic, and is au naturel, unlike the opposition’s enhanced six-pot sound. It’s hard to upstage a V8, even with turbos in the exhaust path.
All the work on the suspension pays dividends, especially in cahoots with the sports differential and dynamic engine mounts. The electronic LSD is quick acting, redistributing drive torque to the (outside) wheel with better traction and reduces slip on the inside wheel when cornering, without brake interventions. This makes the car more agile and easier to drive at the grip limit, permits earlier corner exits because of increased traction, and it also means increased driving stability at speed. There’s no torque vectoring, active or passive. In concert with the extra rubber, adaptive damping and speed-sensitive variable power steering, the C 63 S Coupe is set for action traction, and it drives that way.
Don’t like such a vice-like grip on traction? You can always punch the ESP button momentarily which selects “Sport Handling”, allowing for a little drift action. The good part is that it’s still under ESP control lest things get out of hand.
On road, the urgent turn in, flat stance and sheer speed through corners impress. The near even weight split, among other things, helps to keep understeer at bay and despite the adoption of electric assistance, it’s one of the most communicative helms in the AMG range. It helps being rear drive, so the fronts are uncorrupted by power. The dynamic engine mounts also assist, aiding turn-in and feel in the Sport modes.
It’s not all just a go-show either, for the C 63 S Coupe gets a brake upgrade, with 390mm compound brake discs. They have the stopping power that’s a match for the turbo firepower under the bonnet. Want more? Lightweight ceramic front stoppers are yours for $9900. But it’s the tactile nature of the standard brakes that stand out, rather like the steering and well sorted ride in Sport mode.
Everything about this car makes it so easy to drive quickly. Even the seats have bolsters both for thighs and torso, and the sports wheel is part clad in alcantara and leather. You might not sit quite low enough for an ideal low-rider driving position but it’s decent enough, and the way this car flows down technical roads, you know it was designed by engineers that care about such things. Underlying differences between this and the sedan may seem subtle but they’re apparent at the wheel; the Coupe is a better (and quieter) drive.
On the physical front, it looks suitably ornery, especially from the rear three-quarter angle where its quartet of exhausts emerging from the diffuser shout aggression, and the haunches and flared guards highlight its width. Pillarless doors, blackened mirror caps, grille surround and air intakes, along with a dramatic sloping roofline enhance the aggressive lowered stance. In that regard it is a match for the M4. Considering the raked roof, visibility through the rear window is acceptable.
Standard fare for the C 63 S Coupe includes a panoramic sunroof, belt presenters, head-up display (with nav instructions showing, if desired), active cruise, adaptive LED lights, nappa leather seat trim with heaters, and an IWC analogue clock. The safety area is well covered off too, with a 360 degree camera, nine airbags, and a Driver Assistance package with all the active safety bits you’d want.
At $172,900 it’s an insignificant amount more than the M4 opposition but you get a biturbo eight-cylinder engine that sounds better than the IL6 of the BMW. Despite being heavier, the AMG is slightly quicker. A formal comparo would be needed to separate the pair though.
|Model||Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupe||Price||$172,900|
|Engine||3982cc, V8, T/DI, 375kW/700Nm||Drivetrain||7-speed twin-clutch, rear-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||8.7L/100km||C02 Output||202g/km|