When manufacturers announce cars, we at GTspirit always get a little excited. We know that designers and engineers will be able to use them as a base to tinker with, thus resulting in a number of variants. A small Italian Fiat 500 would have little appeal to the stereotypical car enthusiast, being a vehicle generally aimed at young female drivers to match to their latest summer apparel and equally Italian Prada handbag. This humble city car is then handed over to a team that intends on making it a very different proposition indeed and lo and behold we ended up with the savage critter that is the Abarth Fiat 500 BiPosto. It’s not just small Italian cars either but big super ones too, examples include the Lamborghini Aventador SV and Ferrari F12 TDF, the differences from the cars on which they are based are still significant when you consider just how sublime the starting “base” cars are.
Many say Germans lack a sense of humour and cannot match the Italians for flare and passion. Just like the bearded gym honed giant that just drove past us in an aubergine coloured Fiat 500, the stereotype is in fact very far from the truth. Where Fiat, Lamborghini and Ferrari produce very few hardcore variants of their creations, Mercedes-Benz and the AMG division present a technicolored dream coat of offerings that immediately challenge the stereotype. From the tenacious A45 AMG to the rumbling G63 AMG and the sensational S63 AMG, Mercedes-AMG transforms modest series production cars into ones that will roar so loud that they set car alarms off, and now there is a new one.
Meet the new 2016 Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe which is, obviously, based on the 2016 C-Class Coupe, but every panel other than the roof, doors and boot-lid are new. AMG had a challenge on their hands working on the next generation C63, in saloon, wagon and coupe forms. The predecessors were astonishing and became instant hits with their monstrous 6.2-litre V8s bulging from their aggressive hoods. There was a lot of skepticism as AMG broke the inevitable but somewhat saddening news that the new car would not feature either the 6.2 nor 5.5-litre engines we had learnt to know and love. Unlike its direct competitors, the BMW M3 and M4, the C63 retains its V8 motor, albeit at a significantly reduced displacement of 4-litres and with forced induction. The cruel constraints of carbon emissions and melting icecaps consigned the naturally aspirated engine to a premature death. We flew over to Malaga for a weekend to see if the new C63 AMG Coupe was a worthy successor of its free-breathing predecessor.
It’s November and the majority of European countries are unpacking their woolly hats and scarves for what is predicted to be one of the harshest winters in decades. It’s 25°C in Malaga, the weather man clearly forgot to send Spain the memo and just as well, the C63 S models we were testing packed a hefty 510 horsepower along with 700 Nm and all to the rear wheels. Our first experience of this corrupting power was at an astonishing venue, the world famous Ascari Race Resort, known as one of the best circuits in the world, a culmination of the world’s best known corners all put together in the rolling hills of Ronda.
Before getting our lucky hands on the full fat C63 S, we drove from Malaga to the circuit, the perfect opportunity to understand the series production model. The C220 diesel we first had the keys to was a very capable and we are sure it will be a huge seller. After an hour’s drive featuring some spectacular scenery we arrived at Ascari.
Being led by an esteemed AMG Driving Academy instructed in an cherry red AMG GT, we hit the track to unleash the full potential of Affaltabach’s latest creation. In Sport and Sport+ the C63 AMG S Coupe remains composed and well balanced, almost tame. The steering, another electric rack, is well weighted and the engineers have managed to incorporate a little feel, something that has become rare to come by. The car we were driving was equipped with carbon ceramic brakes, a pricey option but not only do the calipers give great feedback and confidence, they also look fabulous finished in gold.
A couple of laps in, we flicked the dynamic driving controller into Race mode and the car evolved. The days of sport buttons feeling nothing more than gimmicks are over, the changes are tangible and make a significant difference on the car’s behaviour. The ESP kicks back and the car feels very sharp. The hint of understeer felt in Sport and Sport+ is eliminated, something that almost caught us off guard. You have to be focused to push the car, do so and you will be immersed in the driving experience. Whilst you explore, the C63 never stops providing entertainment courtesy of its magnificent exhaust notes. There is constantly a melody punctuated with bangs crackles and pops, the introduction of forced induction presented the AMG engineers with a challenge which they accomplished and surpassed.
Track driving is great fun and the C63 AMG S Coupe more than proved itself to be tremendous with shown a technical circuit. To be considered a real success it would have to excel on the open roads and the ribbons of tarmac that flow through the valleys and hills around Malaga were the perfect playground to put the adrenaline fueled German coupe through its paces.
We woke just before sunrise and were greeted by a view that would look at home on a canvas in the Louvre. We stepped out of the hotel and were met by an equally awe-inspiring view, more than a dozen C63 AMG S coupes looking taught and aggressive, ready for action. Our car was finished is a very appealing magno matte finish that accentuated the muscular lines of the Coupe and with that, it was time to put the twin-turbo V8 to the test once again.
As we hit the tarmac and engaged Sport+, we immediately shattered the calmness and tranquility of the morning sun, the exhaust system immediately had us smirking like children on a Christmas morning. As previously mentioned, AMG made it clear from the outset that the car needed to sound like a real AMG. There are two systems available, a standard exhaust with a singular valve and louder more sonorous system that featured three flaps that produced exemplary aural pleasure.
On the road, the car looks purposeful and aggressive, each line has been deliberated and carefully executed to reflect the persona and characteristics of the driving experience. The interior looks race ready too, the sporty and superbly supportive seats look as if they were taken straight from a GT3 car, as does the carbon fibre that features heavily throughout the cabin.
That’s not to say that the car does not feature the usual array of creature comforts, there are all the usual Mercedes-Benz technologies including the fantastic active cruise control, lane assist and many AMG inspired screens that display a plethora of temperature and performance gauges.
One aspect that plagued the last generation car was the gearbox. It gave us great pleasure to drive the 2016 C63 S in manual mode via the steering wheel mounted paddles. The hill had us rowing through the gears, the AMG Speedshift MCT 7-speed sport transmission is quick on upshifts and smooth on downshifts. It is not the fastest but is a huge improvement on the previous generation.
As we peeled off the deserted highway, we began to ascend up into the hills on some brilliant canyon roads, fast and open with long sweeping bends. Immediately there was a reassuring warmth that the C63 AMG Coupe is brimming with feedback and feel, the throttle response has barely been blunted, the power delivery is immediate and almost seamless. Under full throttle from low revs, all 700 Nm of torque is available. The days of a huge slug of power suddenly catapulting you up the road are over. Engineering such as the turbos being inside the engine itself has worked a treat and the car really feels as quick as the claimed 0-100 km/h time of 3.9 seconds suggests.
As we continued to climb into the hills the views became even more glorious, the roads tighter and the AMG continued to better itself surpassing expectations with every corner we turned. We neared our final destination and as we entered a small town with narrow streets, we shifted into Comfort mode and sauntered past little cafes and restaurants. The reaction to the car was exceptional, old and young, all the locals were waving and smiling. We were quickly back into Sport+ as many pointed to their ears demanding to hear the V8 bellow, as antisocial as it maybe it seems to be adored universally.
We came to Spain to not only test the 2016 Mercedes-AMG C63 AMG S, but to see if AMG had managed to engineer the charisma and character into the car that made us fall in love with the previous generation. The answer is simple, yes. AMG’s head of engine development, Guido Vent described, the new C63 Coupe as “the sportiest C-Class ever” and our driving experiences reflected just this. The changes such as the wider rear axle, fatter rear tires and active engine mounts have manifested in a much more focused and sporty driving experience.
AMG took an impressive series production car and entirely transformed it into a snarling beast. Yes it may have lost its naturally aspirated 6.2-litre engine, but it remains as characterful, entertaining and endlessly capable. It is blindingly fast, beautifully balanced and looks, in our eyes, jaw-dropping. This really is one car that makes every journey one worth looking forward to.