Zwartkops - Coupes have a distinctive advantage over their four-door counterparts. They look better, rule out any carpooling duties, and generally weigh less too.
A year after Mercedes launched its AMG C63 sedan in South Africa, the coupe has touched down in Mzansi in July.
Like the four-door, the coupe is available in two variants, normal and S, both use the same engine and seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
I drove (read: drifted) both versions around the Zwartkops race track just outside of Pretoria and can attest to the car feeling markedly different compared to its sedan sibling.
The reason for that, Mercedes says, is a newly-developed rear axle, wider track (front and rear) and bigger tyres (courtesy of increased wheel arches).
The coupe is defined by special side skirts and the lateral inward step, from its door to sills, lends additional emphasis to its wide base.
The front-end is particularly assertive, featuring massive air-inlets akin to a blue whale swallowing plankton.
The special design of the laterally positioned, optical air-outlets improves rear air flow, allowing it to break away in aerodynamically advantageous precision.
The rear is redesigned with dual chrome-plated, twin tailpipes integrated into the diffuser. The boot lid features a narrow spoiler lip which aids downforce on the rear axle.
Gallery: 2016 Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe
How does this translate on track? Well, first up was the standard version (350kW) and I hopped into its sporty confines and maneuvered the electric seat into its lowest position.
I fired up the 4.0-litre V8 bi-turbo engine and while it doesn’t have the rawness of the previous naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8, it does have a deep roar that would make its rivals nervous.
I dialed in the Dynamic Select button to Sport+ and powered off, swopping cogs via the paddle shifts.
It feels extremely fast. The 0-100km/h sprint is dealt with in a claimed 4.0 seconds (3.9 in the S variant) and the brute has to be restrained to 250km/h. If you need more speed, Mercedes will remove the muzzle; enabling the Coupe to reach 290km/h.
Driving the car at Zwartkops, it felt stable along the straight sections while turn-in at hairpin bends allows the limited slip-differential (mechanical on the standard version and electronic in the S) to do its job.
FYI, the car weighs about 2160kgs, but feels lithe when driven on track in its sportiest setting.
The electric steering felt communicative enough and the car’s playfulness is as clear as Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s ill management.
I felt a noticeable difference after a few laps in the more powerful S model compared to the 'normal' car. The S rides on 255/35 R 19 (front) and 285/30 R 19 (rear) tyres.
Mercedes has really put a lot of effort into creating a rather special driving experience in its new coupe.
The German automaker says the better handling of the coupe is due to the bespoke rear axle. According to Mercedes, the multi-link concept makes handling more precise and increases rigidity.
The AMG-specific rear axle carrier makes the increased track width possible; in fact in comparison to the four-door, Mercedes says the contact surfaces of both wheels were 25mm wider.
The S employs racing seats and a sportier helm clad in alcantara. There is also an ‘S’ badge on the rear to identify its upper echelon. The S model adds 25kW and 50Nm over its lesser sibling for a grand total of 375kW/700Nm.
The big engine aids
The car immediately feels more hardcore and when hitting the anchors the red seatbelts cut deep into my chest like Melania Trump’s speech writer into Michelle Obama's archives.
The sports exhaust that funnels the noise of the bi-turbo V8 into the cabin is available as standard with an exhaust flap.
The performance exhaust increases its stock with three selectable exhaust flaps and is optionally available for both variants. The sound is slightly blighted by the two turbos, and it sounds better inside.
Is this S variant - R113 300 more - better than the standard model? Well, buyers in this price bracket wouldn’t really give two hoots about spending another 100 grand.
I enjoyed the S more during the track session, but the normal model will feel equally quick on normal roads and mountain passes.
The C63 has stepped right in front of the dynamic BMW M4, Audi RS5 and perhaps the left-field choice of Ford’s newest iteration of the Mustang.
The Mercedes is only one in that group that offers a forced induction V8 and arguably looks better than its rivals.
The AMG badge carries a lot of clout in SA and Mercedes confirmed that all 25 of the more hardcore Edition 1 models have all been sold before arriving here.
Mercedes-AMG C 63 R1 268 700
Mercedes-AMG C 63 S R1 382 000