AMG has en­gi­neered some gen­uine sub­stance into the lat­est C63 S

Wheels (Australia) - - First Drives - ANDY ENRIGHT

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

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