Smooth Operator

Mercedes-AMG have created one of the all-time great engines with their current bi-turbo V8 offering and they have bolted it into pretty much every model in their line-up, including the family-friendly Mercedes-AMG C63S, which has recently had a mid-term facelift.

The power figures are very impressive for a rear-wheel drive four-door sedan with the V8 producing 386kW (525hp) and a whopping 700Nm of torque. The magical thing about this engine is you get zero sense that it actually turbo charged and the only indication you have is the boost gage on the dash. It feels like a naturally aspirated engine when you plant your right foot on the accelerator ride the linear power curve .

One person one engine; it’s the Mercedes-AMG way.

The bi-modal exhaust system plays one of the best V8 soundtracks around and you will certainly have fun composing your own tune as you work your way up and down the 9-speed AMG-SPEEDSHIFT MCT gearbox using the steering wheel mounted gear selectors. All this fun does have an impact on your fuel consumption though and for the few days I spent with this beast I used 16.6L/100km and the official combined fuel consumption figures are 10.4L/100km.

A car such as the C63S warrants a drive along some enjoyable roads and I chose one of my favourites, which just happens to have one of the best fish and chip restaurants in NSW at the end of it, Pelican Rocks Seafood Restaurant & Café at Greenwell Point. This drive gave me a chance to really see whether or not AMG have ironed out the only flaw that the C63S has; its harsh ride.

A pelican on a rock at Greenwell Point.

They have and I could definitely feel that Comfort mode was softer in this C63S compared to the previous iteration, it almost was too soft for me and felt like I was wallowing over the bumps in the road, but it is calmer for daily driving. The AMG DYNAMIC settings in the new C63S make Sport mode feel like the old Comfort mode. Sport+ is still my preferred mode of choice, but it’s also not as harsh and Race mode is still the wildest of them all and should only be reserved for the track. Individual mode enables you to configure your preferred suspension, drive, dynamics, transmission and exhaust settings if so desired.

You can now select your preferred drive mode from one of the two new knobs on the steering wheel, with the second knob for traction control and suspension adjustment. I don’t like these additions as they are simply a duplication of the switches that are already within easy reach on the centre console and they look a bit like weird growths underneath the wheel.

I’m also not keen on the predominance of the silver on the steering wheel, but its thickness is pleasurable to handle. After only a short amount of time I was able to work out how the navigate the digital driver’s dash (a new addition on the C63S) with the small touchscreens that are on the wheel. You can also access voice control via a button on the steering wheel and this works well for both making phone calls and setting a destination on the sat nav.

The AMG Performance Nappa leather seats are now an option ($3,700) rather than coming as standard. They are firm, but comfortable and hold you in nice and tight. They are electrically adjustable and there are two memory settings for both the passenger and driver. The front seats are heated, but not cooled and the steering wheel is also heated for those extra cold mornings.

The infotainment screen is slightly bigger and now includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. But because it is not a touchscreen you have to use the rotating selector to navigate through CarPlay apps and this is quite annoying to do and in the end I just gave up trying.

You now get wireless phone charging for compatible devices and something I have not seen in any other cars, wireless charging for your key as well, a really great initiative Mercedes! At the front there is one USB port and under the centre console arm rest is an SD card slot and another two USB ports. The Burmester surround sound system has a 590watt output from the 13 speakers and the 9-channel DSP amplifier and pumps out your favourite tunes with a great sound.

But the best feature that has been added to the infotainment system is the on-board telemetry, AMG Track Pace; of course it’s only to be used in aggression on the track. There are seven pre-set tracks in the system, all European so not much good for Australia. But I did love that I could select the Nurburgring and have that glorious track emblazoned on the right hand side of my digital dash, just as a reminder of what a fantastic place it is even though I was not actually driving on it.

You can ‘map’ a new track with the system and then get to timing your laps and reviewing your telemetry to see where you can improve your lap times. Four parameters can be displayed on the screen and these can be configured from an extensive submenu. You can also put the track app on your phone and download all of your telemetry for further analysis once you get home.

When you have a track selected it is shown in the head-up display with the corners and braking points marked, your delta speed displayed and your absolute times as well. It’s all quite geeky and for non-car lover’s completely pointless fluff, but for those of us who love to drive and enjoy our cars it’s absolute heaven.

There is also a drag race timing function to record acceleration, braking and quarter mile timing. One good feature that has made its way down from the E63S is the easier to use launch control system. Simply select Sport+ or Race, hold your left foot hard on the brake and your right foot flat on the accelerator and lift off your left foot and you will blast down the road at a claimed 0-100km/hr in four seconds. The electronics do quite an amazing job to get all that power to the ground and there is just the slightest step sideways as you disappear up the road, before you brraaakke and repeat.

In the back there is now one 12V outlet and graciously Merc have made it so the rear climate control can be controlled from the front of the car, something which has always been a bugbear of mine in the previous version of the C63S. Mercedes have also tweaked the rear air vents so they make less noise, something that would annoy me if the children had their air speed on anything greater than ‘two’.

There are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but the width of the rear seat would limit you to only two child seats in reality. There is enough head and leg room for two adults to fit comfortably in the back as well. The rear seats have a 40/20/40 split folding mechanism or you can fold down the centre rear seat to reveal an armrest, with a storage cubby big enough for some pencils and a colouring book and it has two drinks holders at the front of it. The boot is quite large and would be able to handle the weekly shop and a stroller or space for enough luggage to go away for a weekend away with your family.

My children were happy to see that there are now 64 ambient lighting colours to choose from, but I was sad not to see the disco option like what is available in the new A-Class. The ambient lighting can also be adjusted for brightness in the front and rear and is an improvement over the previous offering.

Active safety features on the AMG C63S include Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC (active cruise control), Steering Assist (the best of any car I have driven), Emergency Stop Assist, Lane Changing Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist and Brake Assist with cross-traffic function which includes congestion emergency braking function and Evasive Steering Assist and Pre-Safe Plus. The latest model now has active high beam as well. Passive safety features includes nine airbags; curtain first and second row overhead airbags, knee airbags, rear side-impact-impact airbags, dual front side impact airbags, seat-mounted driver and passenger side-impact airbags, driver and passenger front-impact airbags, and front passenger occupancy airbag sensors. All of which adds up to a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

The press car had the optional AMG high-performance ceramic composite braking system ($7,900), which are great even for everyday use. I have never found this system to be too aggressive and you are certainly thankful to have it when you need to pull the C63S up quickly.

The facelift has given the outside of the C63S some subtle styling changes with the front grille now with vertical rather than horizontal bars and below that the air intakes are not meshed. The headlights and rear taillights have a revised design and the rear bumper now has a diffuser.

Mercedes-Benz offers a three year unlimited kilometre warranty, but there are some exceptions if you track your AMG. If your vehicle is presented with a concern and it is found that the cause of that concern is attributed to the way it was handled during the track day that particular failure might not be covered under manufacturer’s warranty. The good news is as a Mercedes-AMG owner you can take part in a range of drive days where you can use Merc’s vehicles with professional driving instructors.

During the three year warranty period you also receive complimentary Roadside Assistance as well. The service interval on AMG models is 20,000km or one year and as this is a performance car you can expect to pay a little more than a standard vehicle service costs.

The old and the new C63S.

Mercedes-AMG has smoothed out the rough edges of what was already one of the best fast four-door family sedans currently on the market and they have made it even better! The Mercedes-AMG C63S sedan starts at $160,900 plus on road costs and as tested my Iridium Silver beast was $172,900 plus on roads. But I have heard of some good deals being offered on AMG models at present. So head in to your preferred Mercedes-AMG retailer or if you are in Sydney the only dedicated AMG retailer in Australia, AMG Sydney, and test drive this awesome car for yourself.

Pros Cons
That V8 engine! Added steering wheel knobs
Improved ride quality Difficult to use Apple CarPlay
AMG Track Pace telemetry No disco mode for the ambient lighting

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.