Words: Ouseph Chacko
Photography : Gaurav S Thombre
Approach a corner, lift-off, turn in and punch the throttle. The new C 63 S will, in an instant, unload 700 Nm of torque to the electronically controlled rear locking differential (it is standard on the S) and the tail will swing out gracefully while you nonchalantly dial in some opposite lock and smoke the tyres. It is unbelievably easy to do this, you can adjust the angle of your slide with the throttle, and the slide is so progressive and looks so professional that, for a moment, you think you are Fangio. This car makes average drivers look like heroes and that is exactly why I want to marry it.
Red seatbelts! It’s such a Porsche thing to do, I’m sure it is an expensive option that will add to the Rs 1.3 crore price tag, but somehow this little detail fits well with the kind of car the C 63 S is. You slide down in to the properly sporty Alcantara-lined seats, get a hold of the squared-off, small diameter steering wheel and sigh at the acres of carbonfibre draped across the dashboard and centre console. The new M177 V8 wakes up with a bark and the initial throttle response is so sensitive, you’re half tempted to read it the riot act. So much torque shouldn’t be allowed to assemble together at just 1750 rpm! In fact, the response to the first few millimetres of throttle travel is so sharp, I almost give a biker a taste of what it’s like being shoved aside by 503bhp as I pull out of my gate.
Ok, now that I’ve been in the car all of ten minutes I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how Pune’s roads became so bumpy overnight. It’s not that the suspension is crashy, it’s that the bump and rebound from the AMG tuned adaptive dampers is so tightly controlled, the car jiggles over lumpy tarmac. This is something you can only mildly turn down if you select ‘Comfort’ and I suppose, is the bit that will annoy owners the most. Once your right foot gets used to feathering the throttle and your middle-aged belly gets used to being jiggled, it’s all good. The steering is quick and the new, W205- based AMG feels compact and easy to drive in the beehive that is Pune’s morning traffic.
The engine is essentially two CLA 45 motors joined at the hip. Displacing near 4-litres, the twin-turbo M177 is very close to the M178 motor in the AMG GT but it differs in that it has wet sump lubrication unlike the GT, which is dry sumped to make the engine fit under that low bonnet. Like the GT, the two turbos in this car sit between the cylinder banks of the V8 and the short intake tracts are what give this engine its sharp throttle response. And, like the GT, the C 63 S gets dynamic engine mounts as standard – they stiffen up or go soft depending on how hard you are driving at the moment. To you and me, all that should matter is that it makes way more power than its arch rival, the BMW M3. And that the child-of-Munich is two cylinders short of the AMG. Pub facts, you know.
All of this power goes to the rear wheel via a seven-speed MCT single clutch automatic which, you will find, is more than willing to keep up with your demand for upshifts or downshifts. It’s smooth when you set it in Comfort and gets progressively more aggressive and faster as you move through Sport, Sport+ and Race modes.
The engine loves to rev – it will bang off its limiter at 7000rpm and the way it delivers power is simply gobsmacking. Whatever gear you throw at it, whatever speed you’re at, the response is instant and the surge gains momentum till it is time to throw another gear at it. At its most aggressive Race setting, it will throw the C 63 S to 100kmph in four seconds flat, blow a hole through 160kmph in under ten seconds and make a 911 Carrera S look like a Beetle in the process.
Paint it black
The road to Mulshi is a real world test like no other. It has got sections of badly broken tarmac hiding over crests, it has got speed breakers and in the bits where they hired less corrupt contractors, beautifully surfaced corners. The first thing you have to get used to is how much torque this engine makes. By instinct I was shifting a gear down on the approach to a corner only to discover that it was unnecessary. There’s enough torque to accelerate out of a second gear corner in third (sometimes fourth) and this points to how little lag there is, how alert the engine is, how un-turbo-charged it feels.
And, because the C 63 S feels so narrow and compact from behind the wheel, you don’t hesitate to go all-Diwali with its 1730kg kerb weight on these roads. Another pub fact – the BMW M3 weighs 148kg less than the C 63 S. The new AMG shares very little with the new C-Class it’s based on. The axles for example are very different from what you get on the bread and- butter C-Class. The AMG gets beefier, complex-looking suspension arms that use more aluminium components, the front axle uses unique steering knuckles and has a 31mm wider track while the multi-link rear suspension has more negative camber. The results are breathtaking because the steering feels sharp and talkative enough to leave you in no doubt of what’s under the wheels. The tight damping comes in to its own on these roads and the harder you drive the car…. BRAKE!! Sorry, I have to jiggle through some broken tarmac at 5kmph. Yes, so what I was saying is, the harder you drive the car, the flatter the ride becomes and it is this tight body control and humongous grip accompanied by the heavy metal band echoing off the hills that makes the C 63 S experience so special.
I was going through the press-kit and found AMG has used a series of electronically actuated flaps in the exhaust pipe to get it to sing bass, midrange and thunderclaps in quick succession as you wind through the revs. It’s brilliant but I‘m not sure it’s as loud as the old 6.2-litre naturally aspirated M156 or the 5.5-litre bi-turbo either. Oh, the C 63 S rides 20mm lower than the regular C-Class and it clears speed bumps as long as you, as the Merc driver put it, “drive over them with some love.”
The subjective stuff
The only other problem with the C 63 S is that its design is based on the new C-Class. To my eyes, it’s a bit too elegant to be what it needs to be. Yes the front is suitably aggressive but there’s a distinct lack of muscular wheel arches and the whole thing ends in a rather frumpy rear. While the design works on the regular C-Class, this new AMG doesn’t look as aggressive as the old C 63 and the M3 looks like a shark next to it. I don’t know, does it matter to you?
The chequered flag
A couple of months ago, our colleagues at evo UK threw the new C 63 S against the new BMW M3 down some English moor roads and concluded that the BMW was the better car because it’s more engaging and precise. I’m not sure though. The M3 may ride better at low speeds but I think I prefer the C 63 S’s extra muscle and its easier ‘on-the-limit’ handling. It’s a bloody hoot to drive, it encourages you to push physical limits and when you do, has no nasty surprises in store. Also, I think in India, staggering acceleration and horny engine noises are easier to experience than finding the outer limits of lateral grip and I know that on both counts the C 63 S is currently unbeatable. In fact, on most counts, it’s a proper riot.