Mercedes-AMG has certainly hit a nerve with its worked-over C Class performance cars.
The old-fashioned recipe of adding big cubes up front that drive just the rear wheels has been taken up a few notches, and the sense of old-school muscle meeting new-school brains is strong. Some have suggested, though, that the sedan and wagon versions of the C63 can be a little too much out on real roads, where off-camber bumps, broken edges and doubtful grip can make for spooky companions.
Enter the driver-focused C63 S Coupe.
It costs more to carry fewer people, but a set of key tweaks in and around the chassis means real-world compliance is possible, even with a sledgehammer engine.
The new two-door Coupe version of the C63 is a more compromised car when comparing it with its siblings, of course, with a rear seat that suffers for the sake of design art.
A heavily raked roofline makes life a misery for taller passengers, while foot and knee room is minimal as well.
But it’s from the driver’s seat that the Coupe’s best work is done. The powertrain is unchanged, and with good reason; if you’re not happy with a 375kW, 700Nm V8 under your right foot, and for so relatively little money, you’re really in the wrong showroom.
The 7-speed auto stays too, as does the electronic rear diff.
The magic happens in the revised rear suspension, according to Merc, with a 12-link arrangement tied together with metal instead of urethane.
The new C63 S Coupe is wider where it counts, thankfully, while Merc assures us its suspension tune is more civilised in the real world. Fatter, staggered rubber that pushes the Coupe’s footprint out 27mm more at the front and 45mm at the rear, along with a judicious tweak of camber settings, sets the scene for what is a cold, slightly damp first road drive.
In short, the Coupe is an astonishingly accomplished handler, with a cracking turn of pace cross-country.
The nerveless, oversprung demeanour that the sedan can display in less than perfect conditions is all but gone, replaced by a tune that – especially with the dampers backed off to comfort but all other elements of the car turned up to Sport – flows over smooth and broken road surfaces like warm mercury.
The Coupe is seldom flustered, despite the tricky conditions and the occasional ham-fisted – or footed – input. With some very low-grip surfaces to contend with, it becomes a matter of trust – and it’s not long before we trust implicitly the messages back through the C63 S Coupe’s steering wheel.
The ability of the engine to shorten the gaps between corners is still mighty, though it’s perhaps a little dulled by 70-odd extra kilograms of heft thanks to the Coupe’s reinforced bodyshell and stronger door frames.
A big shout-out for the standard steel rotor/six piston brake package though, with a high and meaty pedal really promoting confidence as corner approach speeds build up.
The electric steering setup is very good too, with a great balance between heft and tactile feel. Gearshifts are sufficiently rapid, though a modern dual-clutch unit is quicker.
And even though the engine is turbocharged (which generally means muffled exhaust noises), there’s no fear of silence here. Off-throttle snaps send a gunshot ricochet into the atmosphere that penetrates but doesn’t overwhelm the cabin.
As a multi-personality, cross-country machine that favours the more sporting driver, the C63 S Coupe is without doubt the most accomplished of the three AMG siblings, bringing a new level of handling and ride sophistication to a package that could favour firmness over feel.
Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe
4-litre V8 • AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7- speed
Direct injection, bi-turbo
AMG 19/20-inch alloys
$172,900 inc GST + on-road costs