AMG has engineered some genuine substance into the latest C63 S
the usual Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual and Race settings. From there, AMG Dynamics introduces smarter, predictive control for both ESP and the torque-vectoring rear diff, with four modes; Basic is assigned to the Slippery and Comfort drive programs, and prioritises stability, Advanced is activated with Sport and targets the sort of handling neutrality you’d want on a country road, Pro switches in during Sport+ mode and reduces the steering’s servo assistance and ups the rear diff’s aggression while Master is linked to the Race mode and introduces more oversteer, even feistier steering while plugging into a spiky throttle map.
With ESP ‘disabled’, the C63’s nine-stage traction control can be activated. This cycles through slip levels from 1 (wet roads, locked down) to 9 which really lets you light up the rears. Control is via a Porsche-style rotary controller underslung from the right spoke of the steering wheel. Think of it to traction control what the Focus RS’S Drift Control is to stability control and you’ll get to grips with it. With it set to 3 on track, it allows a half hand of oversteer out of tighter corners. Set it to 5 and it’ll allow you to hold a respectable slide. Dial it out a bit more and you can easily punt the car fundament-first into a wall, as one foreign journalist charitably demonstrated.
Unenthused at the prospect of replicating this manoeuvre, I keep it at the recommended Level 5, and it’s worth remembering that when activating the traction control that the usual stability control safety net is completely dialled out under braking. Bilster Berg is a track that can make a Caterham feel clumsy and if you get greedy with the throttle on the way into a braking zone, you need to be quite handy with corrective lock on the way into and out of the corner. In other words, you need to know what you’re doing if you want to get the best from the traction control settings, and with typical C63 S coupe pricing with options hovering at around $180K, there are some pretty serious consequences should you get a bit ahead of yourself.
If anything, this circuit still feels a bit unrelenting for the C63 S. The AMG rewards a flowing track where you can manage the weight shifts elegantly and sight a line through no-consequence corners. Harrying it through rowdy cambers, blind apexes, over crests and into curving braking zones makes it feel all of its 1745kg. Of course, you’d never drive the car like this on road. Even on some of the most challenging roads we can think of, at vaguely legal speeds, the C63 S would feel as if it was merely getting started.
Mooching about on road demonstrated the friendlier side of the C63 S. Where the old car would always feel truculent on anything other than flawless hotmix, this car’s Comfort mode is now a good deal more supple. We like that.
What’s refreshing about this update is that it probably didn’t need to go anywhere like this far. Orders for the C63 S are already stacked up, and the latest styling revisions that bring the new Panamericana grille, finned front air intakes, a beefier rear diffuser and redesigned headlights would probably have been enough. As indeed would the interior updates that now include a fully digital centre binnacle and a massive 31cm widescreen display for Aussies who like their C 63s packed to the gunwales with kit.
AMG appears to have been stung by suggestions that the C63 seemed a little superficial; all loud noise and shiny detailing. It has engineered some genuine substance into the latest C63 S. When we drove its predecessor last year, we gave it the nod over the Audi RS5 and the BMW M4 because it took you on the greatest departure from the prosaic. That still stands, but now the C63 S can do many of the things that made the RS5 such an appealing everyday proposition. So yes, the gulf between the AMG and the next best is now that little bit wider. If you’re the sort of driver who felt the old car was a bit of a one-trick pony, it’s time to reconsider your position.
V8 charisma; benign handling balance; clever control systems; ride Still hardly the acme of discretion; fuel thirst; weight; options pricing