In a freak coincidence, Ken in Japan, and John in NZ both had a chance to test drive the C63 S AMG, so we thought we would give you two opinions, of the same car from different parts of the globe. Let the games begin.
Ken – Japan: The new C63 S comes at a time when manufacturers are downsizing engine capacities and adding in turbos for emissions and fuel economy. This made me slightly concerned for the new AMG as I had driven the previous generation C63 with the old 6.2-litre V8 and that was a proper “hair on your chest” sort of thing. So I desperately wanted this new car to retain some of the old car’s charm.
John – NZ : After testing the CLA 45 AMG only two weeks before I was a bit worried about what was in store for me testing the new C63 S AMG. I was praying that it would be more of the big man’s car I had hoped the CLA could have been.
Ken Japan: Let’s get all the practical stuff out of the way first. Most of the interior of the C63 is carried over from the rest of the C-Class range, which is no bad thing at all. I know the ‘floating screen’ design isn’t to everyone’s taste but I didn’t mind it in the younger-orientated C63. It’d look a bit out of place in something like a E63 though. It’s hard to argue with the rest of the interior though, especially when you’ve got an IWC Schaffhausen clock to look at it.
John NZ: I was impressed with the new interior in the C class range, at first I was a bit taken aback by the wood inlay feature on the C63. But it grew on me, fast. It was not the wood of yesteryear, it was simple, subtle and just the right amount of class.
Ken Japan: Merc have pretty much thrown every gizmo and gadget they had at the range-topping C63. There’s a heads-up display, a COMAND system controlled via a rotary dial or a touchpad, and there’s even different fragrances to suit your mood. Though I think the latter is more a gimmick than a gizmo.
Four adults will fit comfortably inside the C63, five might be a bit of squeeze in the back. My test car wasn’t fitted with a panoramic sunroof so headroom in the back was decent. Legroom was acceptable for a car this size too. Despite having a tall transmission tunnel, there was enough space in the footwell for a middle passenger’s feet. The boot was surprisingly spacious too, you could fit about one and a half adults in the back (or 356L).
John NZ: My demo car came with the panoramic sunroof which I believe is standard in NZ, and like most of the Mercs they do it as a nice clean panel of glass, instead of a old school stamped hole in the roof. And for this C63 S AMG, it’s a must-have, as you can hear the amazing song from the exhausts in the Dynamic Driving Modes when you have it tilted open.
Ken Japan: Because my test car was left-hand drive I didn’t get the weird offset positioning of the steering wheel to the pedals you get in right-hand drive cars. As a result, I felt pretty comfortable while driving. Visibility was good, and as lazy as this’ll sound, the C63’s driver aids helped driving in Tokyo a lot less stressful. The C63 can be had with DISTRONIC radar-guided cruise control, blind spot assist, lane departure warning, and it’ll even warn you if it thinks you’re too tired to drive.
John NZ: I can’t say I found the right hand drive position offset or weird at all. It was very comfy, so comfy that I was starting to put this car in to the same bracket as my own beloved V10 RS6. We have only really covered the interior of this car, and on that alone there is so much to like. My only beef was with the floating / badly integrated display screen, basically my bug bear with most Mercs these days.
Ken Japan: The fit and finish was very Mercedes. Lots of leather, wood, aluminium, and enough alcantara to make it feel ‘sporty’. I particularly liked the alcantara inserts on the steering wheel. The seats themselves were supportive and held me in nicely. They were snug without being restrictive. I drove the C63 for nearly 1000 kilometres during the time I had with it and I’d love to say at this point that I was comfortable for all them. But I wasn’t.
Ken: Unlike the BMW M5 which had a 50/50 split personality between comfortable cruiser and supercar slayer, the C63 was more 15/85. It’s a very aggressive car. If a car ever needed to go to anger management it’d be this. Has the smaller engine got rid of the old car’s aggressive charm? Hell no! The C63 does offer different driving modes (Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, and Race) to suit your driving mood. These change the suspension damping, engine and gearbox aggression, ESP, and the exhaust note. Those expecting a soft and plush set up in Comfort mode will be in for a surprise. On uneven roads, gaps between motorways, or anything that might unsettle the car, the ride was anything but ‘comfortable’. It wasn’t so bad for me because my bones aren’t brittle yet, but for those who had to go to record shops for music might need a chiropractor after a few hundred kilometres in this. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but don’t get into this expecting Maybach levels of comfort. This is a sports sedan with a big emphasis on the sports. So while it may not be the plushest of cruisers, it is an effective bruiser.
John NZ : It took all of 500m for me to know that this car was going to tick all my boxes. My daily driver is a Twin Turbo V10 RS6 Avant which has 572bhp (426kw) so I am quite used to cars with enjoyable levels of power. The C63 S, had this level of power from its 4.0L V8, that gave 375 kW , 700 Nm. That second number is the one you want to be high, kW are great when they are high, but Nm is the figure that says, this car is going to stop the planet rotating and spin it the other way. To give you an idea of how angry and how powerful this car is, at 80kph on the motorway, I went to overtake a truck, and would normally nail it in my RS6 to get the move over and done with ASAP, but that’s got quattro 4wd. So there was a split second of unexpected fear behind the wheel of the C63, when the rear of the car broke loose and drifted sideways every so slightly before digging in and like a V-2 Rocket took off. I was very much in my happy place.
Ken Japan :I might start throwing superlatives around soon but I can honestly saw few cars get my heartbeat racing and palms sweaty as much as a C63. Let’s be clear here; the C63 is not quite precision instrument a M3 would be. As much as AMG would want it to be scalpel sharp, it’s still an AMG hammer at heart. That’s fine by me. It is a more rewarding car to drive than the previous C63 though. The handling is more neutral and less tail happy. That means you can push the C63 harder than you could its predecessor before needing a new pair of undies. The electrically assisted steering gets heavier the faster you go. I found it to be quite communicative and responsive, if not quite as direct as I would’ve liked. As with all my other experiences with AMGs, it’s the engine that dominate the entire driving experience. Other cars may have great big V8s up front but few are as breathtakingly epic as an AMG V8. This new 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 is a true marvel and a worthy replacement of the old naturally aspirated 6.2 V8. With 375kW/510bhp at the disposal of your right foot, it’s hard not to drive without a smile on your face.
John NZ : Ken was right, the engine was perfect, from the moment you turn it on to the moment you switched it off, it felt like the dark sided demon on your shoulder telling you to go and have fun. And here is where I take my hat off to Mercedes-Benz. With one button, they have fixed the main issue most people have with cars like these. Too much power, and to hear some of the really good noise you need to be red lining it way past the limit. My RS6 suffers from this, sounding good within the limit, but amazing on the track between 100kmp/h and 200kmp/h. Obviously someone at Mercedes thought we should not have to suffer like this, and that we should be able to have this amazing noise in any mode at any speed. And that is what this single exhaust button does. If you feel in the mood for comfort or are just pottering around town, you can do so, while having the car sound like it’s in race mode. Yes this sounds childish, but no sensible person buys these cars, you buy them because your inner child wants to.
Ken Japan: Of course, you could always hit the right pedal a little harder to get more noise out. But aside from its primary function of producing noise, it also makes a lot speed. A lot. Say what you will about forced induction engines but the extra torque increase over the old car was very evident on an uphill passing lane. You don’t even have to work the gearbox to get torque, 700Nm can be had from as low as 1750 rpm. Mercedes claims a 0-100 km/h time of 4 seconds dead for the C63 S. Having tried the Race Start (launch control) in a safe and controlled environment, I can honestly say I have no doubt in my mind it can do the ton in 4 seconds, if not less. It takes longer to set up the Race Start than it does to get to 100 km/h. There’s no fuss, just instantaneous acceleration.
John NZ: I did not get to try the launch control, but I can confirm that it’s definitely faster than my RS6 which can do 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds. And thankfully the C63 does this just as dramatically. Fuel usage was another thing I wanted to compare to my RS6, which on a regular week under my foot, will get around 14L per 100Km. It’s safe to say that the C63 did not have a regular week with me, but no matter what kind of driving I got up to, it stayed locked in around 10 L per 100km. This is only a little over the 8.6 L/ 100km stated by Mercedes, which I thought was pretty damn good.
Ken Japan : As fun as it is to go fast, in the C63 S slowing down is just as fun. The brakes worked effectively, but I found they needed a bit of pressure to get the job done. The pedal needed more travel than I expected. Still, the best part of slowing down were the down changes and the resulting pops and crackles from the exhaust. Yes, we’re back full circle to perhaps the most childish reason to like a car; the sound its exhausts makes. There’s no need or benefit to the pops and crackles, but it made me smile and that’s what matters.
What it’s up against.
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||Fuel L/100km||0-100 Km||Price High to Low|
|Mercedes-Benz C63 S AMG||4.0L V8 Twin Turbo||375 Kw / 700 Nm||8.6 L /100km||4.0 Sec||$164,900|
|BMW M3||3.0 L Twin Turbo Straight 6||317 Kw / 550 Nm||8.3 L / 100km||4.2 Sec||$160,900|
|Audi RS4 Avant||4.2 L V8 FSI||331 Kw / 430 NM||10.7 L / 100km||4.7 Sec||$158,500|
|Maserati’s Ghibli S||3.0L V6 Turbo||301 Kw / 550 Nm||10.4 L / 100km||5.0 Sec||$149,900|
The good and the bad
What do we think ?
Ken Japan: The C63 S is not a perfect car. It’s too uncomfortable for old people, it drinks like an out of work actor, and it’s beyond the reach of most. But if you can splurge out $165,000 or so for one then do it. In my opinion it’s all the car you’d ever need. It’s loud, it’s powerful, it can fit four adults in the cabin and one and a half in the boot. It’ll make you smile, it’ll make you laugh, and it’ll make you lose your license. But these flaws add to the C63’s charm and character.
John NZ : Ken is right again, while being ironic, as most people who end up either driving or being able to afford them are older people, who may not enjoy the not so comfy comfort mode. But if you don’t mind that, you’ve got yourself a pretty savage beast. A sign of a good car is that you don’t notice how long you’ve had it, and before I knew it my week with the C63 was over, and for the first car in quite some time, I was not happy to give this car back. It hit a nerve with me, one that made me want to try the wagon variant. If the sedan sounded this good, the wagon with its large interior echo chamber would be like a petrol fueled church choir. There was not much wrong with it, looks, feel, sound. About the only major downside to this AMG, is that you will need a pretty decent savings account for tyres, as it loves to shred them.
Rating – Chevron rating 4.5 out of 5
2016 Mercedes-Benz C63 S AMG Sedan
|Vehicle Type||Front Engine, RWD Performance Sedan|
|Starting Price||$ 164,900 NZD|
|Tested Price||$ 165,900 NZD|
|Engine||Bi-Turbo 4.0L V8, 375 Kw , 700 Nm|
|Transmission||AMG Speedshift MCT 7 Speed|
|0 – 100 kph||4.0 seconds|
|Kerb Weight||1723 kg|
|Length x Width x Height||4686 x 2020 x 1442 mm|
|Cargo Capacity||356 Litres|
|Fuel Tank||65 litres|
|Fuel Efficiency||Combined – 8.6 L/100km, 158 g/km CO2|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 Star|