The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S smashes all comers by working with the driver on an even higher level now – but it’ll also smash your budget and self control to bits
SINGAPORE – Take a Mercedes-Benz C-Class, separate it from its mother at birth and raise it solely on the principle that the best thing in life is for it to crush its enemies, see them driven before it, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
The result is the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S, and now it’s even better at the crushing, the driving-before-it, and resulting lament-causing.
The entire C-Class range has undergone a major product improvement, the ones we’ve tested in Singapore so far are the C 200 (now a mild hybrid) and the excellent C 43 Coupe. So too do improvements also make their way into the meanest of the C-Class family, the C 63 S.
When we first drove the C 63 S in 2015, it was difficult to see how it could best the heights reached by the previous C 63 (W204 model) with its volcanic but tameable naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8.
Here’s the pre-facelift C 63 S from 2015 as seen in our review
But it managed to pull that off thanks to a stirring blend of flexibility, drivability, and ‘hammerness’, what we call that special AMG touch, which includes having the best-sounding modern turbo V8.
The facelift is easy enough to spot – there’s the bulging heritage-inspired ‘Panamericana’ grille design that’s also found on the S 63, and in fact it seems the entire bonnet swells even more now, making the new car look subtly brawnier.
Matching that are new headlights, more slats on the air intakes below, the mustache-like lip-spoiler is the same but outlined in chrome, and around the back there’s a new diffuser framed by quad tailpipes.
Inside, it’s equally hard to miss you’re in an AMG car. If you ignore the sport seats, the acre of carbon fibre, the AMG displays, and constant rumble of the V8, you’ll notice the larger 12.3-inch infotainment system display, and steering wheel control pads endemic to the other C-Class models.
But your attention will be grabbed by the new steering wheel, with its new drive mode selector knob. First seen on the A 35 AMG, that knob one-ups Ferrari and Porsche by having its own little display in it, as do the two selector switches to the left. Using those, the driver can control traction, start-stop, suspension, exhaust sound, or gearshift programme.
The car exudes menace,, in spite of (or perhaps because of)the stealthy black paint, but what makes the C 63 even more devilishly seductive is not its power, but that it has a benign side.
Unlike the always-out-for-blood Coupe, the C 63 sedan is actually quite good at the daily business of ‘C-Classing’.
God of V8 thunder or no, it’s certainly good in thunderstorms. With typical luck, our first hours with it were filled with torrential rain. But it never felt traction -limited in terrible weather, nor too stiff for flooded tarmac, it’s every day drivable, no matter the weather.
The five original drive modes (Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Race) are joined by a new ‘Slippery’ mode. Though ‘Comfort’ was truly just that, even in heavy rain, it’s comforting to have the extra mode, given that a rear-wheel drive, 510hp car like this can make anything Slippery Mode if you try hard enough.
That’s also where a new, hidden Slippery mode comes in, and it’s one of the car’s best new features. The nine-stage traction control system from the AMG GT-R supercar is now in the C 63, activated by turning ESP off, and selecting the desired level on the new steering-wheel mounted drive mode selector.
It’s a wonder this has taken so long to trickle down to this level, since supercars and even motorcycles have had it for years. For the C 63, it adds a whole new level to the performance-safety divide, since it’s a separate system from ESP now, no longer chained to the more simplistic old way of having ESP full-on, ESP sport, or ESP full-off.
And speaking of ESP, AMG takes it one step further with a new performance enhancing system called AMG Dynamics. It inputs speed, steering, yaw rate and other data points to decide what a driver intends, then helps them achieve it with torque vectoring at the rear differential and brake vectoring to ‘increase agility and stability’.
You can select levels from Basic to Master, the former works with ‘tame’ modes like Slippery and Comfort and so on up the scale to the latter mode, which works only with ESP off or ESP Sport, and promotes slight oversteer by default.
Obviously the best place to experience this is the track, but on normal roads you can feel the difference. Changing the AMG Dynamics setting (and leaving everything else the same), the car’s nose to becomes pointier when you want it to, the rear becomes looser. On the flipside, in its tamest mode, the C 63 becomes very much like a C 250, neutral, accurate, less agile, but also less tiring to drive.
The obvious question comes, even if you’re not Anthony Hopkins: Are you God Of Driving, or God Of Electronics?
The answer is that the new systems give a driver more, not the opposite. With the new TC system, you can explore the limit with a safety net before ever deciding to switch it all off. With AMG Dynamics, it’s an assist system that improves your own performance, but as with any performance car, it can’t help someone who lacks the skills to begin with.
Besides the usual monitoring systems (gearbox, engine, and tyre temperatures, wheel deflections and more) there’s also the new Track Pace app which gives you comprehensive telemetry as well as timing by sector on major circuits, in addition to being able to create your own routes.
With all of that on board, the C 63 still feels as potent and thunderous as ever, but there’s an added layer of controllability and even more flexibility this time around, it’s almost like having a whole race team feeding you info and making changes on the fly to give you exactly the car you want.
As a result the C 63 takes our vote for top dog of luxury high-performance sedans, but there is a price to pay since at close to S$500k with COE, it’s significantly more expensive than all of its rivals – the BMW M3 was S$404k with COE (when last listed, the new model is expected soon), while staggeringly, the Audi RS 4 Avant is almost S$100k cheaper, at S$395,360 with COE.
We suppose divinity does not come cheap, but the C 63 is very much like Mjolnir, just a tool to focus and unlock what was inside you all along.
Mercedes-AMG C 63 S
|Engine||3,998cc, V8, twin-turbo|
|Power||510hp at 5500-6250rpm|
|Torque||700Nm at 1750-4500rpm|
|Top Speed||4.0 seconds|
|VES Band / CO2||C2 / 193g/km|
|Agent||Cycle & Carriage|
|Price||S$480,888 with COE|