First drive: 2017 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupe in Oman
If you’ve read our previous reviews of Mercedes-Benz’s AMG cars, you’ll realise that we don’t particularly find them impressive, specifically anything that seats more than two. All of their beefed-up sedans and coupes are rocket-fast, but when it comes to corners, it’s either severe understeer with the ESP in ‘sport-plus’ mode, or complete oversteer with the ESP fully off. Their rear-wheel-drive four-seater models are rather unbalanced cars compared to BMWs, held in line only by electronic nannies, which is why many of them now come with all-wheel-drive. The only car they currently have that’s truly an engaging drive is the AMG GT sports car. The only one, until the all-new 2017 C63 S AMG Coupe came along that is. We judged one of these beasts during the recent 2016 Oman Auto Excellence Awards shakedown of 80 cars over 2 days.
In terms of looks, the Mercedes-AMG (as they call AMG cars now) coupe offers up a love-it-or-hate-it styling, with an aggressive front-end and an oddly-bulbous rear-end. It looks like the designers wanted it to be a fastback, but changed their minds just before they completed their sketches. It’s not helped by the fact that it’s hard to tell it apart from a C250 AMG Line from the front, while looking distorted next to the immensely-stunning S-Class Coupe, both of which we had on hand to compare with. However, there is a certain uniqueness to the overall design that transcends any criticism.
The interior is a fine effort though, with mostly premium materials and judicious use of metallic trim, otherwise it is pretty much copy-pasted from the C250. What the C250 doesn’t get are the body-hugging AMG sports seats, which may get uncomfortable on long drives.
You’ll be glad to know that it can seat four average-sized adults in comfort, although getting into the back seat it truly a back-breaker. The boot is pretty sizeable.
We didn’t have time to play with the gimmicky multimedia tech, but you should know that the AMG-fied coupe still comes with that ridiculous column-mounted gear-selector stalk. At least there are paddle-shifters present, jostling for position among the indicator and cruise-control stalks.
Even though the ’63’ badge doesn’t make sense any more, the AMG-specific 4.0-litre V8 biturbo is a monster of an engine, making 476 hp in standard guise, or 510 hp in the ‘S’ version like our test car. With tons of low-end torque (700 Nm from just 1750 rpm!), the turbo kick from the engine puts the previous naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre to shame. The C63 AMG now feels properly supercar-like in terms of acceleration, accompanied by a loud exhaust grunt that can be further amplified at the press of a button.
The C63 S also comes with “AMG RIDE CONTROL” adaptive suspension, a 7-speed automatic, a limited-slip differential, dynamic engine mounts and, most interestingly, a drive-mode selection system that now includes ‘race’ mode. The carmaker says it’s also wider and stiffer-tuned than the sedan version.
And that’s the thing. Finally, Mercedes has finally put in an option to loosen up the electronic nannies without fully turning them off. In ‘race’ mode, this powerful little coupe is ridiculously fun to drive, pulling off drifts and powerslides at the slightest provocation, whether on long high-speed curves or sharp corners, but having the ESP kick in only if things get too hairy. And believe us, this thing needs at least a little bit of ESP interference, otherwise it will barbeque its rear tyres.
The steering, throttle and brakes are razor-sharp in responding to your inputs, so you really have to pay attention to your driving so as not to appear erratic on public roads. The ride is firm, but still smooth enough to bear as a daily driver if you stay off the gravel trails.
So Mercedes-Benz has finally built a four-seater AMG car that’s actually great to drive. Calling it a more practical alternative to the AMG GT-S wouldn’t be accurate, as the latter is a precision sports car and the C63 S remains a brute. But it’s now a brute that can carry a conversation instead of just smoking in a corner.
Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury & Mercedes-Benz.