Owner Review

2016 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S review

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Trundling through the CBD at 40km/h, with the sound of the exhaust reverberating through the concrete canyons, the C63S coupe is reminiscent of a Panzer tank rumbling into battle. The exhaust note telegraphs the fury that can be unleashed by the 375kW 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 that powers this German muscle car.

Once I heard the exhaust and experienced the 'shove in the back' that 700Nm of torque delivers, the decision was made there and then that this was a worthy replacement for my 2016 Mustang GT.

The other car in consideration for this role was, logically, a 2017 BMW M4. After driving the AMG and BMW back to back, the decision fell in favour of the AMG, due to it being more engaging and enjoyable to drive at road legal speeds.

I was disappointed by the basic BMW interior and uninspiring exhaust note. In contrast, the AMG has a luxurious interior that feels at least two generations newer than that of the M4, and I can confirm it is certainly a pleasant place to be when in bumper to bumper traffic. It is decked out in high quality materials, such as the alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, aluminium paddles, leather-covered dash and panoramic sunroof. The seats are very supportive yet still comfortable over long periods.

The infotainment system however, is rather clunky to use but the 'iPad-like' display screen that is perched on top of the dash has great resolution and looks impressive. Mercedes have placed the gear selector on the steering column (think 'three on the tree'), presumably to free up space on the centre console for the infotainment controls. This is a retrograde design move in my opinion, as after a year of ownership, selecting gears on the steering column still feels awkward and is potentially dangerous. On a couple of occasions, after hopping in the AMG after driving my wife's Nissan, I mistakenly knocked the car into neutral when attempting to indicate to exit a roundabout, because I hit the gear selector, which is exactly where the indicator stalk is located in most Japanese manufactured cars.

AMG claim the C63s will reach 100km/h from zero in 3.9 seconds, but I am sure I have never achieved anything even close to that figure due to this car's propensity to vaporise the rear tyres when anything over one-third of throttle travel is applied. Acceleration, once moving, is simply monumental and laugh out loud entertaining. The big AMG will propel itself toward the horizon at warp speed with even partial throttle openings and place your license at risk. After 10 years of an absolutely clean driving record, I received two speeding tickets in the first 6 months of ownership. Consider yourself warned!

Thankfully AMG has equipped the C63s with powerful, progressive brakes that are easy to modulate and inspire confidence when hauling the big 1800kg coupe down from eye-watering speeds. The brakes do squeal a little from time to time which can make the car sound like a council bus when coming to a stop from low speeds, but this is a small price to pay for the stopping power on offer and is normal for cars equipped with high performance rotors and pads.

Unfortunately AMG did not fit the car with a dual-clutch gearbox, but rather have employed the use of a seven-speed multi-clutch transmission. In manual mode, upshifts are reliable and impressively fast, however, downshifts are not as fast, and when shifting down through the gearbox quickly it sometimes hesitates or ignores a shift request. For example three quick clicks of the left downshift paddle may only result in dropping down two gears, which is frustrating. The gearbox is much better left to its own devices and its character changes with each of the drive modes. In the softest setting, 'Comfort mode', the car takes off in second gear and shifts up the gearbox quickly to minimise fuel consumption.

Mercedes claim that the C63 S can achieve a combined fuel consumption of 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres, which is frankly fanciful. Driving sensibly, I have routinely achieved fuel consumption figures of 13-14L/100km which is pretty impressive given the weight of the car and the performance on offer. If you choose to use more performance, more of the time, you can easily exceed 18L/100km.

The steering in comfort mode is light and provides very little feedback, but can be improved by switching into 'Sport' mode which firms up steering and suspension. The next most aggressive mode is 'Sport Plus' which further firms things up and opens the valves in the exhaust to unleash the V8 rumble.

If you really want to know you are alive, you can turn the volume up to eleven and select 'Race' mode. In this mode, the engine, suspension, gearbox and traction settings are at their most aggressive. In 'Sport Plus' and 'Race' the gearbox downshifts provide obnoxious crackles and pops on the overrun. This mode turns the car into a tail sliding, tyre smoking monster which will bite hard if you lack the skills or alertness to contain it. In saying that, when the rear does break loose, it does so in a predictable and progressive way, such that you can steer the car with the throttle. This mode will put a massive smile on your dial.

Styling is always very subjective but Mercedes have designed a car which has a muscular presence with a bulging, long bonnet and flared wheel arches over a squat, wide track stance. It has a 'Gorilla in a dinner suit' kind of styling vibe. No one will mistake the C63 S for a 'garden variety' C300 coupe, as only the boot lid, roof and doors are carried over from the lesser variants.

The way the rear of the coupe is styled means that rear visibility is extremely poor and you are totally reliant upon the camera which can be an issue in low light conditions or when backing out of a car space, in which case oncoming traffic does not fall into the camera field of view.

Overall, the 2016 C63 S Coupe represents great value in the second hand car market. At the time of writing (April 2019) low-mileage examples are changing hands for between $100,000 - $115,000 (they were over $160,000 new).

If you are in the market for an insanely fast, German-muscle car with a thunderous exhaust, and can live with the AMG's harsh ride, dubious gearbox and gear selector position, you will enjoy the thrills, luxury and playfulness the C63 S delivers that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face each time it is driven.

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