IT TAKES just four laps of Spainís daunting Circuito Ascari to realise that Mercedes-Benz has created something special with the AMG C63 S Coupe, a car with the sort of dynamic depth once the preserve of cars from its arch-rival, BMWís M Division.
Of course, AMGs have always been fast, but they havenít always been the sharpest scalpel in the surgical drawer. Yet through the tiller, pants and pedals, this new C63 coupe feels as if itís been honed by a master swordsmith.
Fortunately, it still has all the brawn and ballsy bodacious-ness weíve come to expect from AMGís Affalterbach bunker, but those staples are now underpinned by hitherto unseen levels of technical sophistication.
Beneath the flared front and rear guards are tracks that have been widened by 20mm and 50mm respectively to house staggered 19x9 and 19x10.5 wheels wearing 255mm and 285mm rubber.
As with the C63 sedan, the coupe features extensive use of aluminium in its body and suspension, yet weight is up 70kg over the sedan thanks to the structural reinforcing of its frameless-doored body.
Despite this, the coupe still manages to shave a tenth off the equivalent sedanís 0-100km/h time, now a blistering 3.9 seconds, which is also a tenth quicker than regular 350kW C63 coupe.
The pace advantage the C63 S enjoys over its two-door stablemate can be easily explained by the extra 25kW and 50Nm liberated from its subtly enhanced bent-eight. But to understand how it betters the 70kg-lighter C63 S sedan with the same horsepower, we need to look to its heavily re-engineered suspension.
While the existing C-Classís impressive lightweight fourlink front suspension has been redesigned for the C63 Coupeís widened track, itís the entirely new multi-link rear suspension that is the piece de resistance in the two-doorís dynamic arsenal.
The new rear axle assembly features a model-specific 12-link design that draws on AMGís extensive motorsport experience, doing away with rubber mounts altogether and relying instead on a dozen race-car-style metal uniball joints to ensure maximum stiffness and stability.
In combination with an electronic limited slip differential, the new rear-end simply gets the V8ís prodigious power to the tarmac more efficiently.
Importantly, it does so without compromising ride or NVH levls.
There is lots of noise, of course, but itís a symphony of heavy metal from AMGís mighty 375kW/700Nm 4.0-litre twinturbo V8. Itís raucous enough with the standard exhaust, but fitted with the optional Performance Exhaust the engine becomes a barking, bellowing beast of a thing.
Out on the track, with the fivemode AMG Dynamic Select toggle set to Race, the system drops its traction-control guard and raises the edginess quota dramatically, sharpening the reflexes of the engine and transmission, firming the electronically controlled dampers and allowing extravagant slip angles that dictate armfuls of opposite lock.
In the past, the combination of such a complex and technically challenging racetrack, rear-wheel drive and a twin-turbo bent-eight warhead up front might have caused the AMG driver to break out in a cold sweat.
But AMG has taken its dynamic game to a whole new level with the new C63 S Coupe, delivering the sort of playful on-throttle adjustability that makes it a delight to get to grips with.
We canít wait for the inevitable comparison with BMWís M4.
Extra weight over sedan; firm ride; tight rear seats; thick A-pillars Epic performance and soundtrack; edgy but excellent on-limit handling Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale el eren t hyee Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe 3982cc V8 (90į), dohc, 32v, twin-turbo 375kW @ 5500-6250rpm 700Nm @ 1750-4500rpm 7-speed automatic 1725kg 3.9sec (claimed) 8.6L/100km $160,000 (estimated) May 2016
01 FIVE MODES
C63 offers five drive modes ranging from Comfort to Race. Each stage alters attributes of the electronically controlled dampers, steering weighting, exhaust note and throttle mapping.
02 BUM NOTES
Designers pumped out the guards and pumped up the aggro to achieve the Coupeís muscular stance. Indeed, it shares only doors, roof and bootlid with the base coupe.
Quad pipes, blade spoiler and rear diffuser add visual menace.
03 TASTY JOINTS
New 12-link rear suspension dispenses with rubber mounts in lieu of race-style uniball joints for enhanced wheel control and rigidity. Itís a set-up likely to soon find its way into other AMG models.
The regular W205 C-Class coupe range launches around March, starting with the C200, a 2.0-litre 135kW/300Nm turbopetrol four that promises more punch and panache than the old C180. The thrifty C250d features Benzís new 9G-tronic nine-speed auto, which will replace the sevenspeed in other models in due course. Its 2.1-litre twin-turbo-diesel four musters 150kW/500Nm and quaffs a miserly 4.4L/100km. A C300 Sport replaces the C250 and is expected to be the popular choice, a tweaked 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four packing 180kW/370Nm to carve 1.7sec from the C200ís 0-100km/h time.
Arriving in late 2016 will be the AWD C450 AMG Sport, boasting a new 270kW/520Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6.
Boasting 317kW and 550Nm, the firecracker twin-turbo 3.0-litre six may not have the C63 S Coupeís mumbo or measure on paper, but itís a certified weapon and its dynamic prowess has just been garnished with a tidy $16K price chop.
Full-throated NASCAR soundtrack from 351kW/530Nm atmo V8 and impressively well-balanced chassis make this an unusually memorable Lexus. But it drinks like a sailor on shore leave and only sounds like a true supercar when youíre fully up it.