Tim Jahn is a good bloke. I’ve never met him, mind you, but he must be a good bloke. That’s if his workmanship under the bonnet of the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG S Coupe is anything to go by. 'Impeccable' is the word that immediately springs to mind.
You see, an AMG powerplant is a bespoke unit, assembled by one technician, and only one. It’s a small but significant feature that some AMG buyers don’t even realise. And it's that craftsmanship, that artisanal approach, that differentiates AMG from its hi-po rivals.
As a mark of respect and an illustration of how significant that handmade component of the build is, AMG then affixes that technician’s name directly to the engine. It’s a small pointer to the importance of hand assembly and craftsmanship – something AMG does well in an increasingly robotic world. And it allows you to lift your AMG’s bonnet and mutter, ‘Tim Jahn, bloody good engine builder he is’.
As I sit and look back (a little longingly, I have to be honest) at the bulbous Coupe that sits ticking and cooling a few metres away, my mind drifts back to Herr Jahn and I wonder what he would think of the thrashing I’ve just given his creation. It wasn’t quite merciless, but it was approaching that kind of treatment. AMGs seem to love it and with the ballistic engine note they generate, it’s almost criminal not to.
There’s no doubt that AMG delivers muscle car theatre that’s every bit as good as the Americans and the Aussies, even though Germany didn’t invent the concept. This C63 AMG S Coupe might just be the best AMG has ever done too, which given recent history, is no mean feat.
Pricing for this model starts from $162,115 plus the usual on-road costs and this test example is completely devoid of options, meaning what you see here is exactly what you get if you don’t start ticking boxes at the dealer.
Under the bonnet there’s a savage 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine that hammers out 375kW between 5500-6250rpm and 700Nm between 1750-4500rpm. If you’re wondering whether that’s enough power and torque for daily driving duties, yes. Yes it is. It’s also enough to lose your licence rather easily too, although one of the C63’s most obvious strengths is the reality that it sounds incredible, even at 60 or 80km/h, so you don’t need to be doing warp speed to inflate your ego.
The ADR claim on the combined cycle is 8.6L/100km and on test we used a hard-to-believe 9.9L/100km. That figure dropped as low as 7L/100km live on the freeway too, so the engine is genuinely efficient for something capable of such mass destruction.
Universally at CarAdvice, we love the C-Class cabin, and in AMG guise, it’s as good as it gets. Beautifully appointed, comfortable, subtle and classy, the C63’s cabin is everything you’d expect at this price point and performance level. Mercedes-Benz has pulled off sporty without being kitsch. There’s nothing boy racer about the cockpit, but rather it has a genuine performance feel to it. Expertly crafted nappa leather matches perfectly to Artico (that’s MB speak for faux leather), while there’s classy silver detailing and sark satin wood trim. The heated seats are both cosseting and capable of holding you in place at speed.
The Mercedes-Benz Comand infotainment system is easy to master and pretty effortless to use as well, if not quite as accomplished as direct rival BMW’s iDrive system. However, the AMG experience is about the driving, not messing round with the infotainment system, so let’s not argue too much on this point.
There’s next to no room in the second row, but you’re probably not buying this Coupe for daily four-seat duties anyway, and it can accommodate three or four people at a pinch, when needed. Boot space is big enough to be useful and general comfort is right where it should be. The interior feels expensive, so that’s a box ticked in our opinion. As with any AMG though, it's the fireworks under the bonnet that are the most alluring part of the overall package.
What’s our favourite engine characteristic? Well, aside from the meaty exhaust note it generates when you kick it in the John Smalls, the torque is the undoubted highlight. Those in the know smirk as outright power gets all the public plaudits and nod covertly to each other when the subject of torque is raised.
This V8 engine is a torque monster and is all the better for it. It remains one of the reasons the V8 engine is such a revered platform across the board really, more so when two turbo chargers are added to the equation.
That 700Nm peak torque figure is available from an incredibly low 1750rpm, which effectively ushers any perceptible turbo lag out the door and ensures low down punch is of the cold knockout variety. Rare is the occasion you’ll be able to introduce the accelerator pedal to the firewall, such is the immense surge that is available even at half throttle. Head straight to a racetrack if you want to fully explore the bent eight’s capabilities. As opposed to heading straight to gaol, which is a reality if you get too excited on the street.
An integral cog in the enjoyment wheel is the absolutely sensational gearbox. Packing seven ratios and of the conventional (rather than dual clutch) variety, it hammers through the gears under load with scant regard for the stress you’re placing on it. The shift is both razor sharp and rapid fire at speed, and our racetrack experience with other C63 AMG variants hammers that point home even more resolutely. At any speed on public roads, the shift is way sharper and more precise than you’ll ever need.
As Curt noted in his road drive of the Estate, in Comfort mode, the C63 AMG S Coupe is actually reasonably comfortable. The broad cross section tyres can generate some noise on coarse chip surfaces, but smooth hot mix barely elicits a whimper. The suspension copes with the usual urban road fare in unruffled fashion, and while the ride certainly errs on the side of firm, it’s not an experience that passengers will find unduly harsh.
I agree with Curt, too: around town, this new C63 is more mature, less rabid than the old (and much loved 6.3-litre). Sure the engine note isn’t quite as fearsome under light throttle application, but if you drive your C63 every day as most owners do, that isn’t actually a bad thing. Open the taps though, and everyone else better batten down the hatches – which is exactly as it should be when you’ve stumped up this much coin.
The torque might be available down low, but coax the V8 up to its howling 7000rpm redline, and the soundtrack just get even more irresistible. While the real seduction remains in the meat of the mid range, this twin-turbo will howl all the way to redline and keep piling on speed relentlessly as it does so. In that mid range from around the 3500rpm mark, roll on acceleration is eye watering and immediate, you’ll dispatch overtaking duties with almost comical ease.
Tweak the drive settings via the console-mounted dial into Sport or Sport+ and the gear shift – which is sharp enough in Comfort – gets even more precise. While this MCT uses a lubricated clutch pack rather than a conventional torque converter, it is as precise as any conventional automatic we’ve ever tested. Yes, it is that good.
Head for the twisty bits and a few things become immediately clear. Such is the inherent balance, you don’t even really ‘need’ to switch out of Comfort mode. Need being a relative concept of course, because who ‘needs’ this much earth-shattering power in a daily driver in the first place? We’ve always revered the way AMG products engage with the driver, you’re never left feeling remote or removed from the process, and this new C63 refines that theory even further. It’s never flustered, with near perfect weight transfer, amazingly connected steering and an overarching feeling of confidence. I struggle to comprehend how hard you’d have to push, and how stupid you’d have to be, to approach anything that remotely resembles its limits.
The C63 has always been desirable – of that there’s no doubt. Previously though, it was more like that mate we all have. You know the one. Drinks a little too much, parties a little too hard, gets a little too ‘loose’ in public. The one who leaves you feeling like you’ve gone 12 rounds with a decent amateur boxer by the end of proceedings. This new generation isn’t like that at all. We all love that mate, we always will, but we truly admire the more tactful mate. The one who walks with confidence, is quiet when needed, doesn’t step out of line in public, but carries the quiet confidence of a knockout blow if push comes to shove. That is the new C63. It’s performance is more unassuming than ever, and we love it for that.
The coupe body style brings with it some downfalls – namely lack of cabin space, especially in the second row. That aside though, the Coupe is for us the pick of the C63 range overall. The sedan doesn’t look quite aggressive enough, where this Coupe looks tough as nails. It’s befitting of the muscle car concept.
We concede that the BMW M4 might be the better precision implement, a rapier or scalpel to the AMG’s sledge hammer or axe. The M4 might even be faster around a track, sharper in truly gifted hands. That’s irrelevant to us though, especially when you factor in the drama that the AMG can conjure at sedate speeds. It’s a signature sound that people notice, and it makes you feel good when you hear that immense engine thundering under load.
The C63 AMG S Coupe is an epic car, it’s almost affordable for the average punter too, and it still features real hand-built tradition under the bulging, muscled exterior. It’s one of those cars we never want to give back. It’s worth every bit of the 9 overall we’ve given it here. The fact you can drive it everyday is an unmitigated bonus. In the interests of fairness, we usually try to find the negatives to at least counteract the positives.
While the C63 S Coupe isn’t perfect, damn it’s close. And there really isn’t a single thing to dislike about it.
Thanks again, Herr Jahn.