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Driven: 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 S

2018-07-25 17:34

Sean Parker

Image: Supplied

The best-selling Mercedes-AMG model, the C63, has received a raft of changes inside and out. Sean Parker went to Germany to test out the V8-powered C-Class. 

The tight, twisty back roads around the quaint town of Bad Driburg, Germany humbled me quickly as I tore around them in the latest Mercedes-AMG C63 S last week. 

375kW/700Nm

The North-eastern region of the country, whose first-round elimination from Soccer World Cup is still very raw, was the setting to test the best-selling AMG model built in Affalterbach.  

Using the M177 4.0-llitre V8 engine with two turbochargers, it produces 375kW and a massive 700Nm in top-spec S form. Besides the sedan and coupe models - which we get in Mzansi - AMG also had wagon and cabriolet versions for media representatives to sample, too.  

So why did I fly more than 13 000km to drive this German hot-rod? 

Turns out this updated model has been fitted with a couple of new features: chief among which is a new steering wheel. 

This sophisticated piece of equipment has a round controller with a digital display beneath the right-hand steering-wheel spoke, plus two vertically positioned colour display buttons beneath the left-hand steering-wheel spoke.

The AMG drive programs can be altered by via the controller. Pretty neat. 

Other newbies include the nine-speed MCT gearbox with a wet clutch, which replaces the old and heavier torque converter seven-speed gearbox. The automaker says it offers faster shifts and has also implemented a double-declutching feature in Sport and Sport+ modes. 

The very technical, but helluva enjoyable, Bilsterberg test track played host for the driving experience, but most of the track's 19 turns are blind. There’s even a section called the mousetrap, which I'm sure has caught many people by surprise.
 
The nine-stage traction control system (fitted to the Mercedes-AMG GT R sports car) also makes its debut on the C63 S. Stage one is programmed for driving in the wet with high safety reserves, while the most aggressive setting, stage nine, allows maximum slip on the rear axle.

There is a selection of drive modes that include "slippery", "comfort", "sport", "sport+", race" (in the C 63 S) and "individual".

What’s it like to drive? 

Lively. On track, with all its chicanes and corners that require quick changes of direction, a sensitive foot on the throttle was needed as to not induce massive oversteer.
 
But by the third lap on my first stint, I got more comfortable with using the car's rear-drive setup to tackle the circuit. I could feel the electronically controlled rear slip diff working its magic with all that power to keep things in check. 

It’s a thrilling machine this and yes, the V8 engine dominates the experience like a slice of pineapple on a mini pizza. But the C63 felt positive on initial turn in and never felt unsettled by the crazy elevation changes or quick chicanes that can leave you panting like a Labrador. Also gear changes feel more rapid on this newer model.

On the lovely roads we sampled the wagon and cabriolet versions. They were equally brutish and take no prisoners in the way they simply eat up the road. Both scamper from 0 - 100km/h in 4.1secs and will need to be physically restrained at 280km/h.  

I sampled the Sport+ setting on the road and while the steering may feel paralysed when on centre it’s on Bilsterberg and through the winding roads that I can feel how much better the C63 feels to push through bends. The carbon front brakes were punished on track and even in the last track session the test units didn’t show any fade. 

Has the exterior changed much? 

Yes, anoraks will be able to tell the difference via the new headlights, a new front apron and an AMG-specific radiator trim. At the back the twin exhausts tips are finished off in high-gloss chrome and sport a hectic diffuser. The S-versions up the ante with a diffuser board.

Inside, the big change is the optional 31cm digital cockpit for the driver. The new impressive (optional) head-up display shows a rev counter, the speed you're travelling at, and which gear you’re in. 

The AMG-specific display styles (Classic, Sporty or Supersport) are a nice touch and allow you to pull up some cool info including G-forces, a race timer and a look at the status of systems such as the drive system, suspension, AMG Dynamics, exhaust system, ESP and the transmission. 

When is it coming to SA? 

We’ll see the updated model in the final quarter of 2018 and Mercedes-Benz SA hasn’t given word on pricing yet. 

Summary

With the only V8 engine and producing the most power in the segment (natural rivals include the BMW M3 and Audi RS 5), the AMG stands tall in that respect. And to be honest, they didn’t need to change the engine at all. 

But the new steering wheel, digital cockpit and minor exterior changes has brought the car in line with the new C-Class which launches locally in two weeks. Want a car that seats five, sounds brilliant and is perilously fast? The C63 S is a no brainer. 

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Read more on:    mercedes  |  amg  |  sean parker  |  germany  |  new models

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