Mercedes-amg C63 S Coupé Speed­shift-mct

AMG has tweaked its C63 de­riv­a­tives as Mercedes-benz’s C-class range reaches the half­way mark in its life­cy­cle

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

IT’S the per­fect set­ting: a se­quence of wind­ing coun­try roads, glis­ten­ing blue skies and the char­ac­ter­ful sound of a rum­bling twin-turbo 4,0-litre V8 from the facelifted Mercedes AMG C63 S Coupé. Thank­fully, the roads are quiet and free of traf­fic, which means there’s enough space and time for me to stretch the legs of the lat­est model to emerge from the hal­lowed halls of Af­fal­ter­bach.

Along with the rest of the C-class range, the C63 per­for­mance de­riv­a­tives have also re­ceived a mid-cy­cle re­vi­sion, with some small changes to both the ex­te­rior and me­chan­i­cals which make a fairly sub­stan­tive dif­fer­ence to the ve­hi­cle’s looks and abil­i­ties, if this C63 S Coupé is any in­di­ca­tion.

The most notable vis­ual dif­fer­ence is the Panamer­i­cana grille first in­tro­duced on the cur­rent AMG GT and this, to­gether with a re­vised front bumper and a slightly re­mod­elled rear with larger ex­haust tailpipes, gives this C63 S Coupé a more mus­cu­lar pres­ence. The LED head- and tail­lamps have also been re­mod­elled, although you’d have to be some­thing of an AMG spot­ter to no­tice the dif­fer­ence.

Changes in­side are equally un­der­stated, with the big­gest dif­fer­ence com­ing in the shape of a new steer­ing wheel adorned with the hap­tic switches from the lat­est Benz mod­els. On the right­hand spoke, you’ll also find a ro­tary switch for the driv­ing modes (it dou­bles as a con­troller for the new nine-step trac­tion sys­tem straight from the GT R), while the ac­tive damp­ing and ex­haust note can be ma­nipu-

lated us­ing but­tons on the left. The new switches and their in­te­grated LCDS look good, are er­gonom­i­cally pleas­ing to use and do a fine job of mak­ing the driver feel like they’re at the helm of a proper sportscar.

While the facelifted C-class doesn’t get Mercedes-benz’s im­pres­sive new MBUX mul­ti­me­dia in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem and in­stru­ment dis­play panel from the A-class, it does have an up­dated in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. With cus­tomis­able lay­outs, it com­ple­ments the op­tional dig­i­tal cock­pit; handy if you’re the type who prefers a tai­lored in­for­ma­tion dis­play.

Some­what iron­i­cally, while the vis­ual clues may sug­gest the up­dated car is more ag­gres­sive than its pre­de­ces­sor, the me­chan­i­cal changes have made it a more for­giv­ing ve­hi­cle to drive. While the en­gine and its out­puts re­main the same, un­der the hood the re­vi­sions in­clude a new nine-speed trans­mis­sion, up­dated elec­tronic lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial, adap­tive sus­pen­sion and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol. And the re­sult is a ve­hi­cle no­tice­ably eas­ier to drive. Whereas the pre­vi­ous car could be a lit­tle leery through the cor­ners, this ver­sion feels a lit­tle less de­mand­ing and more for­giv­ing.

When we last drove a C63 S Coupé (Fe­bru­ary 2018), it placed third in a three-way com­par­a­tive test against the BMW M4 Com­pe­ti­tion and Audi RS5 Qu­at­tro. The main rea­son was the trou­ble it had in getting its 375 kw to the tar­mac without a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion go­ing up in ex­pen­sive tyre smoke. It was a car con­stantly de­mand­ing con­cen­tra­tion, with only the bravest and skilled able to keep it bal­anced on the edge of its trac­tion vec­tors.

While the facelift main­tains the mus­cle-car de­meanour, the tweaks men­tioned have seen the car’s lim­its pushed fur­ther back. What’s made the big­gest dif­fer­ence here is the elec­tronic dif­fer­en­tial that more ef­fec­tively con­trols power de­liv­ery to the rear wheels and quick ex­its are now a far more con­trolled and com­posed af­fair. The elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled dampers, tweaked to make the chas­sis more rigid, take on the weight of the ex­tra lat­eral Gs and also add to a smooth tran­si­tion on exit. In

the back­ground, the nine­speed trans­mis­sion pro­vides more fre­quent shifts with shorter ra­tios help­ing it reach the 375 kw rest­ing at the 5 500 r/min mark faster.

Your safety net is elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol that’s been re­vised with a new piece of soft­ware called AMG Dy­nam­ics. This man­ages the rear-axle torque vec­tor­ing and mon­i­tors and re­sponds to the driver’s throt­tle and steer­ing in­puts.

These re­vi­sions may have taken the edge off the C63 S but don’t be fooled into think­ing it has lost its bite. The limit has merely been moved; trust me, you’re still go­ing to need your A-game if you want to go ex­plor­ing those outer lim­its.

With the next flag­ship AMG C-class al­ready con­firmed to fea­ture an elec­tric-plus-in-line­six con­fig­u­ra­tion, this facelifted C63 S is the swan­song of a dying breed that may well be the last C-class to ever bear a V8 cast by AMG. Em­brac­ing the fu­ture of eco-friendly driv­e­trains may be a wel­come and nec­es­sary change but, af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the speed and sound of the high-pow­ered V8 C63 S, the next-gen­er­a­tion C-class AMG will have a tough job match­ing the sen­sory drama of its pre­de­ces­sor.

The mag­nif­i­cent V8 en­gine re­mains at the core of the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence but now feels less fran­tic thanks to the new gear­box.

These re­vi­sions may have taken the edge off the C63 S but don’t be fooled into think­ing it’s lost its bite

clock­wise from right Larger tailpipes make it clear this is no or­di­nary C-class; drive se­lec­tor on the steer­ing wheel is a wel­come ad­di­tion; buck­ets pro­vide ex­em­plary sup­port; new steer­ing wheel looks great and the but­tons are easy to con­fig­ure.

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