TRACK AN­I­MAL

C63 S proves its track met­tle at Win­ton

Motor (Australia) - - LONG TERMERS -

UN­LIKE A CER­TAIN Bavar­ian ri­val, the C63 has never re­ally been known as a track day car. A bit too big, soft and heavy, it’s been the cruiser keener on va­por­is­ing rear tyres than get­ting down lap times. But with ev­ery new it­er­a­tion, Mercedes-AMG seems hell-bent on chang­ing this per­cep­tion.

With its mo­tor­sport-in­spired solid­mounted rear end and new Nine-Stage Trac­tion Con­trol (as seen on the AMG GT R road car and GT3 racer), the C63 S has never felt more ready for track use out of the box. A new on­board lap­time and data-log­ging app, Track Pace, ham­mers the point home. And tak­ing all that as en­cour­age­ment, we thought we’d put the track prom­ise to the test at a Win­ton Race­way Test & Tune day.

For starters, if you’re go­ing to track your C63 S, fit­ting Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport Cup 2s will do won­ders for help­ing con­ceal the car’s weight, but also in of­fer­ing su­perb feel and friend­lier wear char­ac­ter­is­tics. AMG of­fers them as a $1200 op­tion but it’s much more eco­nom­i­cal to buy them your­self and stash the stan­dard UHP tyres for later.

As we took to Win­ton’s 3.0km lay­out, there was no doubt­ing you should get the 402mm op­tional six-pot ce­ramic front brakes. The rea­son­able $7900 ask is money well spent, the pedal feel­ing good for about six hard laps. Kinda what you want when bar­relling to­wards Turn One at 195km/h in 1725kg of big, bad Merc. Al­though we did help the brakes by not throw­ing me­chan­i­cal sym­pa­thy com­pletely out the win­dow.

And that is in­deed a prom­i­nent theme when track­ing the C63 S Coupe. The Sport Plus damper mode might be too stiff for the road but it’s ideal for a smoother cir­cuit, keep­ing the C63 S’s body con­trolled and tight de­spite the newly softer spring rates. But still it’s with tyre and brake preser­va­tion in mind that you hur­tle out of pit­lane in a car like this – and, again ow­ing to the weight, the on-track limit is not as dif­fi­cult to reach as you per­haps would have thought, even with the Cup 2s.

That’s not to say, of course, that the C63 S is not spades of fun on a track. It’s stonk­ingly fast (with no let-up in the power even after re­peated laps in fairly warm weather), snarls a loud V8 note eas­ily heard through a hel­met, the highly strung pad­dle-shift auto also step­ping up its game for re­sponse in a fan­tas­tic way. There’s a clear-enough con­nec­tion to all four tyres through both the steer­ing and the seat; and a good over­all bal­ance with plenty of ad­justa­bil­ity. It’s also fast enough that at a busy track day you’ll be carv­ing up traf­fic like an LMP1 car at La Sarthe.

The nine-stage trac­tion, con­trolled by a steer­ing wheel ro­tary dial and ac­ti­vated by turn­ing off the ESC, is also a gig­gle – and ac­tu­ally help­ful. In its most con­ser­va­tive set­ting (nine), you can flat­ten the ac­cel­er­a­tor mid-cor­ner and the com­puter will only ap­ply the

THE SPORT PLUS DAMPER MODE, TOO STIFF FOR THE ROAD, IS IDEAL FOR A SMOOTH RACE­TRACK

max­i­mum pos­si­ble throt­tle to the exit. Wind the TC back and pre­dictably you get more and more slip. It can be help­ful to leave the trac­tion to a com­puter while you fo­cus on other things, but even­tu­ally you’ll want to take over. It’s not in­tended to be a drift mode ei­ther but it can sort of be used as such; no ESC mean­ing in theory it could be pos­si­ble to spin the car, too.

The Track Pace app is also re­ally cool. Drive a lap for it to record the track over GPS and then it’ll start log­ging your times on the cen­tre 10.5inch dis­play, show­ing best and worst and even a delta time (just to throw you off on a good lap). Ac­cord­ing to the app, yours truly (no pro) man­aged a care­ful 1:37.86, a lot left on the ta­ble. Win­ton is a bit faster now, too, thanks to its re­pro­filed turn four with its awe­some F1-es­que low and wide kerbs.

For track day ad­dicts, you might pre­fer some­thing a bit lighter but the C63 S com­bines track and road abil­ity with ev­ery­day com­fort in a pretty im­pres­sive pack­age. And with its ap­petite for rear tyres in­tact... – DC

be­fore­hand max­i­mum power was pro­duced at a lowly 5700rpm the new peak ar­rives at 6200rpm and at least 400Nm is avail­able be­tween 25005300rp­m. The rev limit is 6800rpm in short bursts, though 6500rpm con­tin­u­ously. Ford claims 0-60mph (97km/h) in the “mid four-sec­ond range on pre­mium fuel” which is out­ra­geously op­ti­mistic, but we’ll strap the tim­ing gear on to dis­cover the true fig­ures in a fu­ture up­date.

Help­fully, the chas­sis has had a thor­ough go­ing-over, too. An al­loy strut tower brace stiff­ens up the front end, brakes are lifted from the stan­dard GT – 352mm discs and fourpis­ton calipers up front rather than the 380mm discs and six-pis­ton calipers of the Per­for­mance Pack-spec Aussie GTs, com­bined with 330mm discs and sin­gle-pis­ton calipers at the rear – and the front bar im­proves brake cool­ing and re­duces front-end lift. The 2.3L HP is 65kg lighter than its V8 sib­ling at 1705kg, which is dis­trib­uted 53/47 front-to-rear.

Wheels are 19 by 9.0-inch front and rear but wrapped in Pirelli P Ze­roes rather than the GT’s Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport 4 S. There’s an op­tional “Ecoboost Han­dling Pack­age” avail­able State­side which lo­cal HPs score half of; a larger 24mm anti-roll bar (up from 21.7mm, it­self an up­grade from the stan­dard Ecoboost’s 20mm) and shorter 3.55:1 diff ra­tio (3:31 stan­dard) make the grade, but the wider 9.5inch wheels with 265/40 Pirelli P Zero Corsa4 tyres do not.

There are a few op­tions avail­able and our test car has the works: Mag­neRide adap­tive dampers, Re­caro seats and the body colour pack, which deletes the grey bon­net stripes and re­verts the rear spoiler and mir­rors to, fun­nily enough, body colour. It’s a good look­ing car, the nickel-fin­ish wheels pro­vid­ing a sub­tly dif­fer­ent look to the GT.

You don’t miss out on any equip­ment for for­go­ing the V8, quite the con­trary. There’s the same 8.0-inch touch­screen with SYNC3 in­fo­tain­ment and smart­phone mir­ror­ing, 12-speaker 1000w B&O stereo, 12-inch dig­i­tal in­stru­ments, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, eight airbags, adap­tive cruise, auto high-beam, auto emer­gency brak­ing and tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing. Heated and cooled seats are stan­dard, but se­lect­ing the Re­caros deletes this ca­pa­bil­ity. You even get a cou­ple of small items miss­ing from the GT, most no­tably the pony pro­jec­tion lights that shine the Mus­tang logo onto the ground as you step out of the car. A small touch, but a nice one.

The ques­tion is whether this thor­ough makeover has made the four­cylin­der Mus­tang a vi­able al­ter­na­tive? The next cou­ple of months will pro­vide the an­swer, on road, drag strip and track, while the im­me­di­ate switch to the V8 big-banger will be the per­fect ref­er­ence point. Will the 2.3L High Per­for­mance prove to be a rose, or more of a thorn? – SN

HAS THIS THOR­OUGH MAKEOVER MADE THE FOUR-CYLIN­DER MUS­TANG A VI­ABLE AL­TER­NA­TIVE?

TOP Track Pace app syncs with a phone app and of­fers a swathe of data to an­a­lyse

MID­DLE Luffy man­aged a 1:36.3 in a Cup 2-shod sedan in 2015; Coupe would go quicker again

BOT­TOM Front tyres work very hard, temps and pres­sures reaching 55 psi and 94°C

01 ONE Sub­tle rear spoiler is grey un­less you tick the body colour op­tion pack

03 THREE Noth­ing miss­ing in here. 2.3 HP is packed full of all the good­ies as stan­dard

02 TWO Up­graded 2.3 scores an ex­tra 12kW/7Nm but pro­duces its grunt over a wider band

04 FOUR Badge also ap­pears on the dash with a unique chas­sis num­ber

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