Mercedes took us all the way to Spain to drive the C63 Coupe last year with the expectation of smooth roads and nice weather to inspire suitably sunny reviews. Didn't exactly work like that sadly. Nothing wrong with the car. But we didn't quite get to enjoy a 510hp rear-wheel drive V8 super coupe in the manner we'd hoped.
So to a role reversal, Yorkshire in October providing quiet, bone dry roads and a chance - finally - to put some hard miles in with AMG's BMW M4 rival. Rival? Well, in the way of things it doesn't so much offer an alternative to the established rivals. More humiliate them in the automotive equivalent of kicking sand in their faces.
Because even the updated, uprated M4 Competition Package looks a little outgunned when you compare it with the base C63. 476hp and 479lb ft from a suitably thunderous turbocharged V8 makes even the uprated 450hp and 406lb ft from the BMW's tuneless twin-turbo straight-six seem a little lacklustre. The car you see here - the bells and whistles Edition 1 - is based on the C63 S, 510hp and 516lb ft enough to make the Mercedes' 188kg weight penalty over the BMW seem less of a problem than it otherwise might.
These aren't the only big numbers though. At £61,800 the C63 is a couple of grand more than an M DCT-equipped M4 while the S version is a burly £68,710. A Lexus RC F, the sole naturally-aspirated V8 left in this sector, starts at £60,495 and goes up to £68,495 for the Carbon version with bonnet, roof and rear wing made from said material. 477hp, 390lb ft and a comparable weight problem to the AMG aren't perhaps so impressive on paper but the Lexus has sufficient style and character to make it worthy of consideration.
A very different proposition but the (relatively) more mature and comfortable MY17 Nissan GT-R starts at £79,995, offering the ability to (probably literally) drive circles around all of the aforementioned, including this equivalently priced Edition 1 C63 S. And if performance is what you're after moody matt grey paint, evocative V8 engine noise and a prominent yellow stripe will only get you so far when taking on a GT-R.
Plan B if you crave a macho, V8-powered coupe is, of course, to buy a Mustang GT and pocket the £40K change.
Decisions, decisions. Let's look at why you might go with the AMG...
A grand or so more than a C63 S saloon, the Coupe is a much more serious proposition thanks to the newly developed AMG rear axle. This is a significant investment, the 12-link design much more rigid than the stock set-up and offering far more control over the chassis tuning and general character of the car. It'll be carried over to the new E63 too and, no doubt, other AMGs to follow.
The 4.0-litre 'hot-V' V8 and seven-speed auto-with-locking-clutch MCT transmission are more familiar though, likewise the upgraded electronically controlled and fully variable locking diff AMG fits to its S-graded products in both this and the GT range. For more on that see our recent videoblog on that car and more of the same on this one.
As previously stated, the main impact is a huge increase in traction at the expense of some of the unreconstructed muscle car vibes. It's a difficult one for AMG - that brutish, power-crazed image is both its brand signature but also the source of some criticism, those who prefer the sharper, more focused character of BMW M products often dismissing the Mercedes equivalents as little more than overpriced hot rods. So the diff brings new-found sophistication and means the C63 S is faster and makes better use of its power, be that on rain-soaked Spanish tarmac or across a bumpy moorland road here in the UK.
That makes it a much more focused driving machine than the C63 saloon or estate too. The stiffness of the 12-link set-up means AMG can exploit the wider front track and deliver a much sharper front-end, the S Coupe blessed with more weight and feel through the wheel than the saloon or wagon. And the result is more confidence than ever to carry the speed the V8 gives you up the straights into the turns. And enjoy them. Sure, the weight means it feels more blunt tool than precision instrument. And an M4 on the same road will feel much more agile and exploitable. But there's now poise to complement the traditional AMG firepower.
Throttle response from this V8 is excellent for a turbo engine but there's still a degree of initial mush that lovers of the previous 6.2 won't like. There are few complaints once it spools up though, forced induction giving mid-range the old motor never had. The noise it makes is suitably epic too.
There are, in the way of things, a ton of modes to play with but the default damper setting strikes a superb balance between bump smothering and body control, the C63 far more composed on bumpy British roads than the occasionally wild M4. That and the diff do mean it's less playful than before though, that traditional rear-driven balance traded for smoothly deployed traction that only becomes lairy if you properly provoke it. In the old C63 you'd get hints of that even at relatively low speeds; now it's all but gone in the name of progress, actual and technical.
Some things don't change though, the gearbox slow to deliver manual upshifts yet perfectly happy to dramatically block shift down two or more gears when you only requested one. As ever, Sport+ auto is often the better choice, timing its downshifts brilliantly but rather removing a layer of interaction. Both twin-clutch M4 and GT-R - eventhe auto Lexus - do it better.
And though the interior is smartly executed and suitably lavish - especially with the Edition 1 adornments - the rattle of frameless glass when you shut the door and an annoying squeak from the dash on bumpy roads are the kind of details that would infuriate those buying into the dream of vault-like Mercedes build quality. And the internet still hates that tablet-style display screen, even if it makes sense when you use it.
In the noise and thrill of the extravagant V8 acceleration, the poise and surprising accuracy with which it can pick apart a back road (even with all that extra weight) and the sheer charisma the C63 Coupe is a powerful force to be reckoned with though. This is AMG growing up and getting sensible. Thankfully not too sensible though.
SPECIFICATION | 2016 MERCEDES-AMG C63 S COUPE EDITION 1
Engine: 3,982cc twin-turbo V8
Transmission: 7-speed auto with lock-up clutch (MCT), rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 510@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 516@1,750-4,500rpm
Top speed: 155mph/180mph* (limited)
Weight: 1,800kg (EU, with driver)
MPG: 32.8mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 200g/km (209g/km with optional 'sports tyres')
Price: £76,895 (As tested £81,825 comprising of £335 for 360 degree camera £765 for AMG Driver's Package, £1,695 for Driving Assistance Package, £3,000 for Edition 1 'Motorsport' package and £825 for Head-up display)
*With optional AMG Driver's Package
Photos: Dan; action pics and post production Sim Mainey.
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