IOL Motoring Staff
Cape Town - Mercedes-Benz was blessed with a perfect spring day for the long-awaited South African launch of its new convertible range, both in S-Class and C-Class format, the latter represented by the C63 AMG Cabriolet, available either 350kW base or 375kW S versions.
Those kilowatts are delivered by AMG's well-established four litre twin-turbo V8, with the turbochargers in the 'hot seat' - i.e. between the cylinder banks rather than on the outside - spinning at up to 186 000rpm for 1.1 bar of boost on the base model and 1.2 on the S.
Drive is to the rear wheels via a Speedshift MCT seven-speed paddle shift transmission and limited-slip differential (electronic on the base model and mechanical on the S ), running on Ride Control suspension with adaptive adjustable damping. The C63 S also has dynamic engine mounts, which tighten up when more dynamic performance is called for.
Sprint times to 100km/h are quoted at 4.2 seconds for the base model and 4.1 for the S, while top speed in both cases is electronically limited to 250km/h - unless you plonk down a few dollars more for the Driver's Package, which uncorks the ECU to give you 280km/h.
Uncork the exhaust sytem
Four drive modes for engine and transmission mapping can be selected via a controller to the left of the touchpad, starting with Comfort, which does exactly what it says on the label, with smooth shifts and sweet throttle response (note, we didn't say soft!).
Sport mode sharpens throttle response and steering set-up, shortens shift times and shifts down earlier with an automatic double-declutch function.
Sport Plus sharpens all these parameters even more, uncorks the exhaust system, blips the throttle on downshifts - and even raises the idle speed for no-lag start line launches.
The Individual mode allows you to set throttle, suspension, steering, exhaust and shift-point parameters to suit your driving style, while the C63 S has an extra 'Race' mode that switches the ESP to Sport Handling mode, allowing the car to get considerably out of shape before it intervenes.
The AMG Ride Control adaptive suspension also offer three settings - Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus - with individual control of each wheel in every case.
The base model comes standard with 225/40 front and 285/35 rear rubber on 18 inch rims, while the S wears 255/35 front and 285/30 rear radials on 19 inch hoops - although other combinations are optionally available, including mixed-size tyres on forged-alloy rims.
Braking is entrusted to internally ventilated and drilled 360mm discs all round on the C63 while the S gets 390mm front platters - with 402mm carbon-ceramic discs available as an option for the S.
Let the sunshine in.
But of course the C63 Cabriolet is all about high-velocity topless motoring, accessible in about 20 seconds at up to 50km/h, with an Aircap electric draught-stop function and Airscarf neck-level heating for those cooler evenings, in what Mercedes-Benz says is the only twin-turbo V8 in its segment.
Mercedes-AMG C63 - R1 439 900
Mercedes-AMG C63 S - R1 559 900
These include a six-year or 100 000km maintenance plan.