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By Harvey Schwartz*
If you are lucky enough to drive a Formula One bolide for living, and unlucky enough to find yourself in an accident requiring medical attention, the car that will take you away from the track will be a Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 S Estate (a fancy European name for the station wagon.) Well, you cannot drive the Estate on our shores. (Except for one weekend in Austin during the Grand Prix of the United States, but that’s another story. And you – most assuredly – will not be the one behind the wheel of that one.) So instead, get yourself in the driver’s seat of the Coupe version of the aforementioned AMG C63 S, and you may never look back – first to notice difference in design, and second because the view in front, as well as all around, is spectacular.
Let’s start from the very beginning (quoting Julie Andrews in the “Sound of Music”): front section features the brushed aluminum MB wing, diamond radiator grille, open air vents to cool the engine and brakes, MB Intelligent LED headlamps/DRLs, and a long, double-creased hood. The new coupe added 2.4 inches between the firewall and front axle. Fenders are flared to accommodate larger wheels and tires for an increased track width. This, combined with lower splitter, gives the car muscular look.
Following the design from stem to stern: a high beltline, steeply-raked A-pillars, blacked-out trim around the frameless doors including carbon fiber capped/heated/self-dimming aero-styled exterior mirrors. A highlight from the silhouette is the long, drawn-out dropping line which – in contrast to the C-Class sedan – extends past the rear wheel arch. While the affinity for this design feature is open to debate, I think it works fine and provides the AMG C63 S with a more distinctive look. The optional carbon fiber package includes a front A-wing, side sill inserts, rear diffuser insert and a truck lid spoiler. The suspension is 0.6 inches lower than in the sedan, which – combined with the staggered, black 255/35ZR x19 front, and 285/30ZR x 20 rear AMG wheels – shod with Michelin Conti-Sport Pro Contact low profile tires – provides highly agile longitudinal and lateral dynamics. Moreover, the Coupe does look mighty and luxurious all of which with a single and not-so subtle objective – to give Audi S5 and BMW M4 food for thought. Did I mention that rear end comes adorned with LED taillights, and four black AMG rectangular tail pipes?
Mighty and luxurious ain’t much unless backed by something serious. In this instance something serious comes in a form of a handcrafted, AMG 4.0 liter aluminum alloy twin-turbo V8 with DOHC and Direct Injection. With 503 horses at 5,500-6,200 rpm and 516 pound-feet of torque at 1,750-4,500 rpm, this beauty can be kicked from a standstill to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. For those who, having brought a two-ton car to freeway speed in sub four seconds, feel pangs of guilt about the environmental impact, the auto-stop/start system enhances fuel mileage.
This power travels a short trip from a bespoke power generator under the long hood to the rear wheels by way of a super-fast-acting AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed transmission with paddle shifters. The system ensures that the transfer of power is smooth and uneventful like in an established democracy. An AMG electronic Limited-Slip Differential keeps the force down on the pavement. The quad exhaust system features AMG’s Dynamics with a dual-mode for sound – a simple push on a console mounted button on the center console raises crescendo from a soothing burble to a screaming wild banshee shriek. Steering is a two-mode, speed dependent, electro-mechanical rack and pinion setup with AMG steering assist when cruising. Pushing another console-mounted button and the C63 S responds with more feel for the road with excellent response to the driver’s inputs.
Supercars nowadays come loaded with options to satisfy a wide variety of their admirers. Driving the C63 S with the AMG sport-tuned, fully independent suspension utilizing tauter springs and an AIRMATIC air suspension adds additional layer of fun and excitement. This is electronically controlled system with continuously adjustable damping which gives one the option of selecting the DYNAMIC SELECT switch via a console-mounted roller to dial in one’s desired driving style. On the menu: Track / Sport+ / Sport / Comfort / Individual. For those exceptionally discerning users, the “Individual” setting allows for customization of any of the vehicle settings.
AIRMATIC also features all-around self-leveling for excellent ride comfort even with the vehicle loaded. The front suspension also features a new four-link setup with a decoupled spring strut that contributes to exceptionally agile handling characteristics. Grip is plentiful and lateral stability high. The rear features five-links connection to the wheels ensuring straight-line stability. Both setups include tubular torsion bars. The ride is stiffer than on non-AMG models, but never harsh. More aluminum (your neighbor in the F-150 is not the only one flaunting it) makes the Coupe lighter than before. Light-alloy components are found in the fenders, hood and trunk lid. At the same time, the body is stiffer thanks to the use of high-strength materials.
Fourteen pistons on the AMG calipers – a dozen upfront and a quartet in the back surround 15.4 inch and 14.2 inch vented, slotted and drilled rotors. . . . By the time you finished reading this the Coupe safely slowed down. Brake feel is very linear along the lines: the harder you press the stronger the force. May the (braking) force always be with you. Especially with ABS, BA and EBD – the safety acronymic alphabet soup to ensure straight-line control.
The larger interior is part sport and part luxury. The AMG designation may bring up the impure thoughts of playing a dominator of the roadways. But the AMG is still part of the Daimler Benz empire of top-of-the-line luxury and safety. The doors open to reveal lighted AMG chrome kick plates, and a “this-thing-was-custom-molded-to-fit-into-my-hands,” flat-bottom, three-spoke, power-tilt and telescopic steering wheel. The wheel is wrapped with hand-sewn Alcantara.
The rest of the accent-stitched interior, however, began its existence as an animal hide. Front seats have fifteen-way power adjustment with memory. Dual-zone climate control comes with ionizing scents for crying out loud! (I wonder if they have the mid-October smells of the 2016Hockenheim finals in the German Touring Car Championship?) The soothing music is piped through Burmester surround sound audio system with Sirius Satellite radio. There are rain-sensing wipers, panoramic sunroof, seatbelt pre-tensioners, alloy foot pedals, and adaptive cruise control, to mention few more notable accoutrements. Optional equipment on the model I tested included heads-up display, active blind spot assist, touchpad with 8.4 inch high resolution screen, power folding mirrors, active lane keeping assist, active LED headlights, reconfigurable ambient lighting, and a surround view camera. The remote trunk opener allows the driver to open the trunk by moving one’s foot underneath the bumper.
And no, you are not in a minivan. And you have no injured race car drivers to schlepp around.
* Zoran Segina contributed to this story.
© Harvey Schwartz
Name of vehicle:
2017 Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 S Coupe
$93,885.00 (as tested, including destination charges)
EPA rated fuel economy:
AMG Handcrafted 4.0 liter Twin-Turbo V8 with DOHC and Direct Injection
503 at 5,500-6,200rpm
516 pound-feet at 1,750-4,500rpm
AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-SPEED AUTOMATIC with Paddle Shifters
Two-Mode, Electro-Mechanical rack & pinion
Front: Independent, 4-links, coil springs, continuously variable shocks, hollow torsion bar
Rear: Independent, 5-links, coil springs, continuously variable shocks, hollow torsion bar
Brake: F-15.4 inch rotors, vented/slotted/punched with 6-piston calipers R-14.2 inch rotors, vented/slotted/punched-ABS, BA, EBD, PreSafe Technology.
Wheels and tires:
F-10X19 inch AMG forged aluminum R-12X20 inch AMG forged aluminum
Length: 187 inches
Width: 73.9 inches
Height: 55.2 inches
Curb weight: 4,096 pounds