Compelling to drive, this is finally a car to shade the BMW M4
Were this merely a coupé version of the Mercedes-AMG already seen in saloon and estate form, it would probably not have earned its place on these pages when space is tight. It would be similar to drive, less practical, more expensive but, to some at least, better
looking than its four- and five-door brethren. But in fact it’s different, slightly but significantly and the message it sends is as interesting as the car itself.
So yes, it has the same 4-litre V8 twin turbo motor which in ‘S’ guise punches out the same 503bhp and directs it through the same seven-speed paddle-shift gearbox to the rear wheels. What’s different can be seen in its pumped-up bodywork: its track has been increased by 73mm at the front and 46mm at the back while the rear suspension is unique to this car, with different geometry and elastokinematics, strengthened wheel carriers and much greater stiffness.
What it seems to be saying is that this is not merely an extreme performance version of an existing coupé, but an extreme performance car in its own right and it just happens to exist in coupé form. The change of emphasis may be subtle, but it’s important.
And it’s reflected in the way the car drives, for this is the most sporting Mercedes yet to make it to market this side of the AMG GT and SLS supercars.
I’d feared that all those changes to the rear end would help better balance the ratio of the car’s power to grip. Feared, because I love mildly over-engined cars so long as they come with fundamentally faithful responses, which lesser C63 Mercedes undoubtedly do. In fact the effect of the changes is to make the car more, not less, fun to drive.
Like its stable-mates, the C63 Coupé is quick enough for its performance to add a sense of occasion to every journey. Any car with its engine in the front and just two driven wheels that can hit 62mph in under 4sec is not just seriously quick, it has seriously good traction too. But you notice the car’s additional layer of ability as soon as you turn into the first corner on your nearest decent road. You’ll read in other media about how easily the tail can be kicked into the next county and still be recovered and it’s true enough, but rather more important is the way it now just stays neutral for longer. I’m sure there’s more grip, but there’s better balance too and that’s why the C63 S coupé is such a compelling thing to drive.
In fact sometimes you feel it’s better than a car that still rides reasonably well yet weighs fully 1800kg has a right to be. But that’s not what’s most important here: in its new found point-to-point pace coupled to its extant power, this car is a statement from Mercedes, a challenge even to BMW, daring it to find a way to elevate its rival M4 to this level. Ever since the original 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth failed to square up the original M3, Mercedes has followed BMW’s lead in this field. The C63 S Coupé is Mercedes’ way of saying it’s not playing that game any more, and it’s BMW’s turn to play catch-up.
Engine 4.0 litres, 8 cylinders, twin turbocharged
Power [email protected]
Torque 516lb [email protected]
Transmission seven-speed paddle shift, rear-wheel drive
Power to Weight 279bhp per tonne
Top speed 155mph