FIRST DRIVE: Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupe (and a ride in the GT3!)

FIRST DRIVE: Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupe (and a ride in the GT3!)

You would imagine that it would be slightly difficult to make a performance car powered by a 375kW/700Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, capable of scampering to the legal speed limit in a scant 3.9 seconds, feel a bit feeble and weak-kneed.

But Mercedes-Benz has managed that at the launch of the coupe version of the brilliant AMG C63 S.

How so? In the most spectacular way possible, of course – by having the fearsome GT3 racing car present.

Mercedes C63 & GT3 (01)

The chance to throw an AMG Mercedes around a great race track – in this case the Sydney Motorsport Park, more commonly known as Eastern Creek – is simply not one a motoring journalist turns down without good reason, but in this case there was a sweetener on offer – a chance to go for a few hot laps in the passenger seat of the GT3.

That’ll do nicely.

The C63 S Coupe itself is a serious piece of machinery, with the aforementioned twin-turbo V8 shared with the sedan and wagon versions. The coupe, however, adds 64mm to the front track and 66mm to the rear and knocks a tenth of a second off the 0 to 100 sprint of the sedan.

Mercedes C63 & GT3 (06)

Was any of this noticeable on the track? Really? You would have to be pretty special to pick a difference between the two without driving them back-to-back (hints were dropped, but to no avail), but, if anything, the coupe felt slightly sharper and grippier that the last sedan I drove. Or maybe I imagined it.

Either way, the C63 sedan is no slouch and neither is the coupe.

Two variants of the coupe were available at Eastern Creek for us to drive – the standard C63 S and the Edition 1 limited edition car that will be available until the factory decides otherwise.

Mercedes C63 & GT3 (07)

The Edition 1 has become something of a recent tradition with new AMG cars and adds lots of stickers, aero extras and performance kit for a bargain price. Well, relatively at least.

The Edition 1 kit on the coupe includes special AMG alloy wheels, a special grey matt paint job, shouty yellow decals and yellow stitching on the interior, an aero package and ceramic composite front brakes for $10,990. The brakes alone are a $9900 option on the sedan, so you see what I mean by “relative bargain”.

The C63 S Coupe lands in New Zealand at $172,900, pricing it slap up against the $169,500 BMW M4 coupe, that with its 317kW/550Nm 3.0-litre turbo in-line six is handily out-grunted by the AMG.

Mercedes C63 & GT3 (08)

On the track, the coupe felt incredibly predictable, well-planted and superbly confident, even at speeds that a sane person will never, ever see on the open road, yet it also managed to provide a sense of playfulness and delicacy, particularly around the rear that was happy to gently step out under the command of the huge torque controlled by your right foot.

While the slightly droopy, melted rear end of the coupe may not appeal to all, the serious firepower and effortless ability is universally appealing and driving the C63 S on a track is something that every owner should experience at least once. Preferably several times.

In fact, one of the few things that could make you forget all about a C63 on track would be the GT3 race car. And, did it ever.

Mercedes C63 & GT3 (02)

As is usual with these sort of hot laps, it first involves you standing around in the sun in a full race suit, sweating heavily and pretending to be relaxed. Soon enough the GT3 bucks and grumbles into the pit lane and you have to jam on a helmet and HANS-device before clambering in a particularly ungainly fashion over the roll cage and into the passenger’s seat of this spectacular successor to the mighty SLS GT3.

The GT3 packs the same naturally-aspirated 6.3-litre V8 as the SLS, with actual power and torque figures a closely-guarded secret, although the SLS raced in Europe with more than 400kW.

As it turned out Dominic Storey was to be my chauffeur, as the young Kiwi has recently joined the AMG-backed entry into the Australian GT Championship run by Eggleston Motorsport.

Mercedes C63 & GT3 (04)

The GT3, perhaps more than any other racing car I have ever been in, does not like going slow. In fact, it seriously objects to it – bucking, snorting and angrily shuddering up the Eastern Creek pit lane as Storey guides it out onto the track halfway around turn one.

Giving it a dose of throttle down into turn two turns the GT3 utterly feral, as it belts towards the corner at a frankly alarming rate, making a truly, deeply impressive noise that only a big naturally-aspirated V8 can properly make.

The GT3’s engine is staggeringly responsive, the noise worryingly arousing and the brakes could stop the rotation of the planet. As a result, the next lot of laps I drove myself in the standard C63 seemed, well, slow and ordinary by comparison.

Make no mistake; the Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe is a brilliant piece of kit on a track. It’s just that the GT3 is ferocious, aggressive, sexy and ballistic.

Mercedes C63 & GT3 (05)


This article first appeared on Stuff Motoring.

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