Johannesburg - At first glance, the rather mundane-looking Mercedes-AMG C63 S sedan might not take your breath away. However, once you’ve jumped in, put your foot on the brake pedal and pressed the ENGINE START button, and that beastly 4.0-litre V8 under its bonnet rumbles to life, you’ll certainly be gasping for air (and smiling from ear to ear).
Let’s not beat about the bush, the C63 S is all about performance – mountains and mountains and mountains of performance. With 375kW of power on tap between 5500rpm and 6250rpm, 700Nm of torque available between 1750rpm and 4500rpm, a claimed 0-100km/h sprint in four seconds (with Race Start) and an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h, it’s all about numbers.
The best part of this performance powerhouse, though, has to be its rear-wheel-drive platform. It’s probably the last rear-wheel-drive ultra-high-performance C-Class you’ll be able to purchase too, as the company moves toward a sporty 4MATIC system for all future C-Class AMGs.
A very cool feature of this car is its standard-fit dynamic engine mounts, the same as AMG uses on the manic Mercedes-AMG GT supercar. These dynamic engine mounts aim to address the ‘conflict of interest’ between comfort and handling by reducing vibration from the engine and transmission unit.
It certainly works as AMG engineers intended it to, because as brutal as the engine is, you never feel shaken and stirred in the cockpit. The dynamic mounts can adapt their stiffness smoothly and in fractions of a second to the prevailing driving conditions and your driving style, and you’ll feel this as you toggle through the vehicle’s variety of driving modes.
You can choose between several different drive modes in the C63 AMG S. Each mode influences the characteristics of the car, while an additional RACE mode dials everything to its highest performance setting for maximum attack.
My favourite mode was the INDIVIDUAL programme, which allowed me to set the engine to its sportiest setting, the transmission to its laziest setting (for more crackles and pops between shifts) and the suspension to its softest setting.
Naturally, the exhaust flaps were kept open all the time and while the car isn’t as satisfying to the ear as the naturally aspirated models that preceded it, it will raise the hair on the back of your neck.
Interestingly, the C63 AMG S also comes with a ‘Gliding Function’. Basically, if you lift off the accelerator between 60km/h and 160km/h, the clutch of the MCT transmission disengages and the engine is decoupled from the drivetrain. When this happens, the car’s electronic brain reduces the engine’s revs to idle speed, and the resistance generated by the compression and frictional forces produced under trailing throttle is reduced. Sure, it’s gimmicky, but oh so cool too (and it helps to save fuel).
As mentioned earlier, the car’s suspension will adapt to the mode you’ve dialled in on the centre console. In SPORT and SPORT+ you’ll feel a little more through the seat and body, which is great if you enjoy moving with undulations in the road. There’s no air-ride suspension here, but you do get magnetorheological shocks that are filled with a smart fluid that can stiff and soften on-demand by sending an electric charge through them.Overall, riding on 19s on all four corners, it remains comfortable enough to throw shade at the BMW M3 and Audi RS4 Avant.
Our test car came with Dunlop Sport Maxx rubber, 245/35 R19 (front) and 265/35 R19 (rear), which really worked well to prevent road noise and still deliver outstanding grip. However, they do become very un-sticky in particular conditions. On cold mornings and on wet roads you really have to be awake and ready to respond when leaning on the throttle because the rear of the car can step out when you least expect it – not in a terribly uncontrollable fashion, but enough to raise your blood pressure and get that heart racing on the way to work.
I’ve avoided discussing the C63 S from a styling and interior appointments perspective because it’s pretty much a luxurious affair inside and out. Styling wise, you’ll stand apart in the parking lot thanks to bold intakes in the front bumpers, while a vertical-slat grille (like the one fitted to the AMG GT-R) makes it look the part.
You can opt for carbon fibre styling packs inside and out to set it apart further, while on the inside you can dial up the interior to DESIGNO levels.
As an overall package, you can easily call this car the ultimate car for the daily drive. It’s fast, comfy, loaded with tech and it comes with one key thing – character. From the moment you jump into the car for the first time, you’ll immediately respond to its ambient lighting, its smells and its sounds. The whines from the fuel pump the mechanical clinking sounds from the exhaust and the brakes, the low rumble on idle and the thunderous roar at the limiter…all these elements come together to make it a genuinely enjoyable car to drive every day.
The way forward for high-performance sedans seems bleak, what with Audi not even considering a sedan version of the RS4 and BMW looking to move to all-wheel drive for the new M3. I’ve always loved high-performance C-Class models, my particular favourite being the C55 AMG.
This new car is so much more than that car in terms of performance and panache that it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in performance terms in the past decade. The C63 S really has all the makings of being an ultimate daily drive (money no concern) and reminds me of why fast sedans are still better than bulky performance SUVs.
Fast. Frugal. Ferocious. The C63 S is, arguably, the best AMG you can buy right now. Its handling has improved generation upon generation, feeling easier and racier to drive, whereas in the past you felt as though you were trying to wrestle a bear into a leotard when going with intent.
With options, the car can become ludicrously expensive, but stay away from the options list, and go with what Merc gives you as standard, and you’ll be perfectly happy with the car for many years to come.
Consumption wise, well, let’s say it’s not going to win any city-based economy run events. But, you’ll be surprised at how light on juice it is when maintaining a constant speed on the highway.
Pricing starts at R1 560 136 and you get a full five-year maintenance plan to keep running costs in check.