02 MERCEDES-AMG C63 S

AMG’s seminal sports sedan inches closer to perfection

BY DYLAN CAMPBELL

LAST YEAR at a track in Germany called Bilster Berg we got our hands on Mercedes-AMG’s updated super sedan, the bonnet-bulging C63 S - and we were wowed by its improved refinement, smarter interior and tricky new nine-stage traction control.

THE NEW NINE-STAGE TRACTION CONTROL IS MORE A TOOL FOR PUTTING THE POWER DOWN, THAN IT IS A DRIFT COACH

Hopefully you’ll have an idea of the changes AMG has wrought on its supercar-slaying sedan, but if not, effectively there’s some very minor exterior styling changes; an updated interior with the latest Mercedes tech; a softer suspension tune; a new nine-speed wet-clutch automatic and a totally new Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and Traction Control (TC) architecture, now including the nine-stage TC first seen on the AMG GT R. Since nobody in their right mind ever complained the C63 S was underpowered, the engine has not been touched, outputs still 375kW/700Nm. Weight has increased 25kg; the 0-100km/h time remains a claimed 4.0sec.

From the driver’s seat, let’s get one thing straight first-up: the new C63 S is brilliant, its classic combination of four-door sedan shape, incredibly potent twin-turbo V8 and rear-drive making this one of the world’s great muscle cars. It’s outrageously fast, sounds tops, is fun and easy to drive at the limit, and has a gorgeous, luxurious interior.

In our international report, we said the interior vibe has leapt from 2003 to 2020 in this one update, with totally new, attractive modern graphics on the new digital instrument cluster.

Save for the fiddly old COMAND hand controller remaining, the interior is now absolutely spot-on.

Now that we’ve driven the facelifted C63 S on Aussie roads, we’ve been able to dive deeper into the important new changes, those being the rethought suspension tune and new ESP/TC.

The first iteration of the W205 C63 S was, let’s face it, quite stiff, even in its Comfort damper mode. Previously, you went searching for the adaptive damper button to find ride comfort. Now, you press it in search of body control.

The softer suspension has made a big difference, perfectly comfortable 85 per cent of the time, whereas the previous car was more like 65 per cent. While a degree of harshness is still transmitted into the cabin, and the ride is still nothing like the bliss of a Magic Body Control S-Class, but it’s a massive improvement over the old car.

The softer suspension does mean the C63 S doesn’t sit as flat as the old one, however, this is still a precise, agile car, easy to place in corners. As you push harder into the grippy Michelin Pilot Super Sports, there is now a new body-roll about the C63 S that requires management, the 1680kg C63 S body moving through longer arcs. But now you push the damper button and said arcs are shortened; Sport Plus dampers are even usable on the road. This ride/handling balance makes much more sense for this car than the overly stiff set-up of before.

When it comes to ESP/TC, it feels like a training course is needed to properly understand the myriad new buttons and settings. A new AMG Dynamics menu offers four levels of electronic assistance from “Basic” to “Master”; no matter what drive mode you’re in, pressing the physical ESP button once shortcuts you to the loosest Master mode, equivalent to the old ESC Sport, and for MOTOR readers that’s kind of all you need to know.

As for the new nine-stage TC, which is adjustable via a 50-cent coin-sized rotary controller on the steering wheel, it’s a fun thing to play with but you quickly discover it’s more a tool for putting the power down, than it is a drift coach. Master ESP mode remains the go-to for that. In fact, all the new ESP/TC gear is frankly mostly for the benefit of new C63 S owners, rather than those already comfortable in a high horsepower rear-drive car.

There is not much we can really criticise the new C63 S for. Lightning fast up the gears, perhaps the new nine-speed auto could be quicker back down them. Refinement has improved a lot, yet one can still imagine one more level of refinement attainable again for AMG’s heavy hitter. Call us completely nuts, but now that the chassis is so well sorted, we do fantasise what a C63 sedan would be like with the AMG GT’s M178 dry-sump V8 and twin-clutch seven-speed auto. It’s a pointless day dream, as AMG says no C63 Black is in the works, but it would be a five-out-of-five star car.