2017 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupe: Improving Awesome

Written by Shaun Keenan on .

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Driving the new C 63 AMG S coupe is an exercise in restraint. I suspect that owning one, then, will be that and many more things. The car’s purpose is simple. To be the best C-Class ever. And it just might be. Along with its sedan counterpart, the C 63s are head and shoulders above the rest.

Poised atop the best-selling luxury car line in Canada, Mercedes-AMG’s latest performance coupe gets the same hand-built AMG 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 that comes in the C 63 sedan launched last spring.

With 503 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque that peaks at 4,750 rpm, the S model has 34 more horsepower and 37 lb-ft than the non-S model, and is capable of accelerating from 0-100 km/h in under four seconds. And while the rest of the C-Class lineup gets a very democratic 4MATIC all-wheel drive system and less powerful engines, only the AMGs are rear-wheel driven.

As part of the fifth-generation C-Class (W205), which dates back to the Mercedes-Benz 190 (W201) range that reigned from 1982 to 1993, the range-topping C 63 AMG sedan and coupe models truly benefit from the winning ways of the Mercedes-AMG teams in Formula One, DTM and other series.

I’ve now driven both the sedan and the coupe, and each is fitted with AMG’s Speed-shift sports transmission that slices through seven forward gears with divine purpose and finesse. Each also gets Eco start/stop and a Dynamic Select system to choose one of six driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race and Individual) that can change their demeanours from mild to wild to bat-s!#t crazy.

While I was taken aback by the mega speed and handling abilities of the C 63 S sedan on Portugal’s big and fast Portimão Circuit, the back end did tend to get pretty unstable under hard-braking at the end of the long straights. The newer C 63 S coupe does not do this at all, and it’s because of several improvements that Mercedes-AMG has made to what is essentially a totally different car. The electronically-controlled mechanical rear-axle limited slip differential is a key factor here, but it isn’t alone.
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Compared to the base C-Class coupe (the C 300 coupe was at the launch, but I didn’t drive it), the AMG version shares only the doors, roof and trunk lid. The remaining body panels are AMG specific, and necessary to provide more substance rather than aesthetics. The wide rear fenders, for example, add 33 mm to each side (2.6 inches total) to accommodate the limited-slip differential, as well as a rear axle that is 46 mm wider. Likewise, the front fenders widen the car by 24 mm per side (1.89 inches total) so that larger wheels and tires will fit in the front and back, respectively. The coupe is 15 mm lower than its sedan counterpart, and the rear axle and LSD are both new compared to the C 63 S sedan. I should also point out the LSD in the non-S model is not electronically-controlled, and thus not as sensitive.

The combination of the C 63 S’s lower centre of gravity, wider track width, larger contact patch, improved front and rear downforce (0.01 and 0.05 per cent, respectively), the AMG ride control suspension (and tuning) and other AMG tweaks make for a car that drives silky smooth at the limit. That it looks even better than the sedan is mere happenstance.

Like the sedan press launch, the C 63 coupe launch featured gorgeous on-road drive routes as well as track driving, the latter under the guidance of Mercedes-AMG brand ambassador and factory test driver Bernd Schneider. And instead of Portimão, I find myself chasing down the five-time DTM champ on the incredible Circuito Ascari in southern Spain – the 5.425-km long, 26-turn full track that combines the best corners from many of the world’s most famous racetracks.

In Portugal, Schneider drove the same car as everyone else. In Spain, however, the mouse is behind the wheel of the AMG GT S, while all the cats are driving C 63 S coupes. That said, I felt so much more confident driving said coupe that I was actually able to stay closer to “The Man” (that’s how our Canadian PR rep refers to him).

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Compared to the AMG sedan, the coupe is more stable under heavy braking and faster all around. There’s virtually no body roll, and it doesn’t understeer whatsoever – thanks in part to the dynamic engine mounts it shares with the AMG GT. What nervousness I had on my first lap was already gone by lap two, and I managed to click off 20 this time around, including a private session with just the two of us on track that saw me clock a respectable best time of 2:38.33.

Mercedes has made great strides with its driver interfaces and usability in all its models, this being no exception. I won’t go on and on with specifics, but will say that it’s perhaps the nicest interior they make.

The C 300 4MATIC coupe will begin arriving in Canadian dealerships in March with a $48,100 MSRP, and it’s a one of the best compact luxury cars in Canada. The same can be said on the on the luxury performance side with respect to the C 63 coupe models, though pricing won’t be released until April and the car won’t go into production until June. It will arrive in our showrooms sometime in July however. That is, if they even make it to showrooms. If you are at all interested don’t wait for them to get here because they will go fast – literally and figuratively.

The thing about this car is that you’ll find yourself resisting many urges in your daily commute, but if you’re looking for a dual-duty high-performance luxury car to also take to the track, this is one that should be seriously considered. The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S sedan has already been named AJAC’s Best New Sports Performance Car for 2016. The coupe will be eligible to win it next year. And I think it will.

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BY THE NUMBERS$164 /HP (CALCULATED W/ EST. BASE MSRP) | 125.75 HP/L | 264.53 HP/TON | 3.43 KG/HP | 8.9 L/100 KM (NEDC – COMBINED)

SPECIFICATIONS
2017 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé
BASE PRICE: $82,500 (estimate only)
ENGINE: AMG 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8
HORSEPOWER: 503 hp @ 5,500-6,250 rpm (SAE)
TORQUE: 516 lb-ft @ 4,750 rpm
CONFIGURATION: Front-engine / rear-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual clutch automatic
DRY WEIGHT: 1,725 kg
FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (NEDC COMB.): 8.9 L/100 km
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000
ALTERNATIVES: Audi S5, BMW M2/4, Cadillac ATS-V Coupe, Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R, Infiniti Q60 Coupe, Jaguar F-Type R, Lexus RC F

NOTABLE OPTIONS: PREMIUM PACKAGE - Parktronic w/ active parking assist, COMAND online navi w/ MB Apps, Burmester surround system, Keyless-Go; INTELLIGENT DRIVE PACKAGE ($TBA) - Distronic Plus, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, CMS rear, BMS Plus w Cross Traffic Assist, Pre-Safe Brake, Advanced Driving Assistance package; PREMIUM REAR SEATING PACKAGE - rear window sunshade, Thermotronic automatic climate control; metallic paint; designo upholstery; head-up display; passive lane keeping assist; power trunk closer; air balance package; 19-in. AMG 5-spoke wheels; AMG performance seat; AMG carbon ceramic brakes.

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