Rumble Stiltskin

Road-trip shenanigans cement the bond

NATHAN PONCHARD

OurGarage

UNHEALTHY as it is, consuming a gullet-load of drinks and washing it down with some fast-food gloriousness at 1am is a great way to bond with fellow humans. Some of the finer conversational details may be lost in the process but there’s a warm-and-fuzzy feeling associated with letting rip in fine company that can seal a friendship.

That’s how I feel about the C63 S. Initial misgivings over its brusque and unforgiving nature – especially when tackling low-speed traffic snarls and bumpy urban roads – have transitioned into a much more tolerant, almost lovey-dovey relationship phase.

Having fully stretched 1DF-6IS’s muscular legs over the past two months and 1700 kays, including a soon-to-be-published comparo, I now fully comprehend what this 375kW slingshot is capable of.

It’s an intensely serious sports sedan – the polar opposite of gentlemanly older AMGs – and the trade-off for that focus is low-speed firmness. It will surprise nobody that the faster you go, the better the C63 S gets.

I’ve found a solution for its urban driveability issues. Instead of defaulting to ‘Comfort’ mode and quietly cursing the laborious off-the-line slurring as it starts in second gear, I now drive the C63 solely in ‘Individual’, mixing Comfort dampers with a livelier Sport drivetrain setting, a rumbling sports exhaust note and a more forgiving ‘ESP Sport’ safety net for the stability control.

In conjunction with semi-slick tyres, you’d think it was a step too far for standingstart traction but that isn’t the case. The Speedshift-MCT seven-speed holds onto gears a smidge too long at times in Sport but it makes the C63 feel genuinely quick. Sure, there has been the odd oversteer moment when plugging traffic gaps but at least its flow isn’t being spoiled by electronics.

About the only thing that can’t be remedied by pushing a button is the steering.

Given that Sport, Sport + and Race are all too stiff for road driving in Australia, and group together all dynamic adjustments, there’s no chance of upping the meat of the steering while leaving the dampers ‘cushy’.

One particular corner on my work commute – a smooth, downhill left-hander just past Redfern station – makes the steering feel kinda slack, almost as if lane-assist is trying to make directional corrections, especially if the front treads aren’t bang on 38psi. And selecting Sport doesn’t cure it.

Yet when the C63’s vast roadholding reserves are fully explored, its steering becomes faithfully crisp and communicative, allowing this wonderfully poised little groover to be placed with precision.

Could it be related to our optional semislick tyres? When the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s get swapped for regular road rubber in the coming weeks, we’ll know for sure.

CHOCK FULL

A long weekend away demonstrated the C-Class’s inherent practicality. And my inability to pack light

MERCEDES-AMG C63 S

Date acquired: December 2015 Price as tested: $165,610 This month: 1686km @ 14.9L/100km Overall: 2054km @ 16.1L/100km

S express

Unlike other markets, Australia exclusively receives the rangetopping 375kW C63 S, hence its firmly focused, ultra-sporting personality. Yet for what most punters do, the marginally more forgiving 350kW C63 riding on 18-inch wheels would be a more sensible and comfortable choice. But Aussie AMG buyers can’t bear the thought of someone else having more power than they do, hence the ‘S’ on our C63’s bootlid. Wonder how owners will feel when the even more hardcore C63 S Coupe lobs in June?