After many years of driving and having had the opportunity to enjoy some modest but fine examples of good 4 and 6-pot motoring, I had a burning desire to enjoy the experience of a big V8. The choice for me was simple, or at least seemed simple, between an E90/E92 M3 or the W204 C63 AMG. The latter choice was going to be very different, as I had always owned and driven manual cars and the C63 didn’t offer that option. Also, having owned and driven the Bavarian marque for 23 years, I felt some loyalty to the brand, which made a change difficult. But, having done my research and after checking out a few examples, I chose the AMG.
Thereafter, I spent the best part of 18 months looking for the perfect specimen and travelled far in my quest, even to Brisbane for a quick, one-day round trip to inspect one, but eventually the car “gods” must have been looking after me, as the one that I ultimately found was less than a 5 minute drive from home at a local Mercedes Benz dealer. It was easily the best example that I had seen, a one owner with low mileage, full dealer service history, and despite being 4 years old, was in near new and immaculate condition.
Some might suggest that a big V8 is impractical as a daily driver in the heavy peak hour traffic in Melbourne, but when driving in Comfort Mode, it is a smooth, quiet and comfortable drive. Whilst it is a thirsty V8, it is reasonably okay on fuel use when driven sedately, but don’t be expecting anything better that about 17 litres per 100 kilometres for the city commute. Most of the time I drive it in Comfort mode and only use the Sport and Sport+ mode when I am on windy roads and looking for a more energetic throttle response and gear changes. And it does that very well, with the aggression of a real muscle car, reminding you of the 358kW of power that is ready to be unleashed!! If only my driving ability were good enough to take advantage of this! It is very much a Jekyll and Hyde offering; in Comfort mode it is sedate and peaceful for your daily commute to the office, but when changed to S or S+ you feel the car tighten and firm up at the twist of the dial and respond like it is hungry for real action.
The engine – bulletproof constitution and the last of the naturally aspirated V8’s made by AMG is such a joy to drive, with the huge torque delivery right from go. And the sound of the barking V8 when you fire it up is just magic! It is the best sound I have heard from a car for a long time. No matter how I am feeling at the start of the day, the bark of the V8 always lifts the spirits! And when I drive in S or S+ mode on the back roads, I turn the stereo off and have the windows down – no orchestra in the world can match the sound that the V8 produces on those drives!
The front one-piece bucket seats with the generously-sized side bolsters really secures you into your driving position and the seat provides excellent lumbar support for those long drives.
The interior is what you would (and should) expect from a car of this quality and price. There is good access to all controls, good vision from the cockpit and the two-way steering adjustment makes it easy to find the perfect driving position. The comfort access function is great, causing the steering wheel to rise, allowing easy entry and exit from the driver’s seat.
I haven’t had the good fortune of travelling first or business class to date, but I would imagine that driving the C63 on a long drive on the open road would be a comparable experience, albeit without the cabin service!
The “not so good” aspects:
It is hard to accept that a car with this price tag would have any negative attributes, but we live in the real world and even the best car manufacturers can sometimes fall below excellence. Not that this car has too many, in my opinion.
The ride on the 19-inch rims and 30mm profile tyres on the rear is not for the faint-hearted. You feel every undulation and imperfection on the road and yearn for smooth bitumen when you drive. I wonder whether 18-inch rims with slightly more generous profile may have been adequate. My 330Ci Clubsport runs on these and has a much more comfortable ride.
Whilst only minor, I feel that the gear paddles are a bit of a gimmick. Having always predominantly driven manual cars, I expected that the paddles would have an instantaneous response for gear changes, but I found that the response is slightly delayed. When driving the car in S or S+ mode, the automatic gearbox does an excellent job precluding the need to use the paddles.
Although I have never tracked the car, when driving around windy and sharp bends, the car feels heavy and lumbers through the corners. It takes some effort to keep it graceful around these sharp bends and I imagine that the BMW E90 or E92 would do better. But the exhaust output from the C63 more than makes up for this!!
As obvious as it sounds, forking out your hard-earned dollars at the bowser every week can be quite painful. Especially since the car only takes premium unleaded, and with current fuel prices one could save a deposit for a house with a year’s fuel supply. But I knew this beforehand, so I can’t really complain!
Servicing costs and maintenance are also quite expensive and although I have only had to do this twice so far, the B service is quite expensive at an MB dealer. My thoughts are that when the car is out of warranty, there is probably no real need to stick with the dealer services. So do your research and find a good and reputable service centre that specialises in these cars and save yourself some real dollars.
Other than the above, I cannot really fault the car.
It is a joy to drive and from my perspective, and it is a “keeper”. I hope to still have it as one of my cars and to keep driving it to the end of my days.