Mercedes-AMG Wages War with a C63 tag team!

In a career spanning more than 10 years I have witnessed many battles of supremacy between BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The score is currently 5-6 to Mercedes (6 MBs vs 5 M3s) yet in performance brawling stakes the score is more likely 5-2 to BMW. In 2015 Mercedes-Benz essentially brings 2 cars to the Dojo. 

The first time I lay eyes on the new Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG it appears as a stripey figure held in a properly smoky and sideways entrance into a sharp bend at Zwartkops Raceway. It arrives to complete what was a few moments ago a trip down memory lane. From the totally radical 190E 2.3 to the gutless C36; the full of promise C32, the truly enigmatic yet demonic C55 right through to the most successful AMG in history; the C63 of last season, all file past while an announcer reads out their stats and achievements. The new model that’s being masterfully arched in front of our eyes, inches away from the aprons of its predecessors, is proudly wearing its Edition 1 war-paint. It becomes the precursor to what would later prove as Mercedes-AMG’s sternest warning to all that it means business.

Early winter days don’t come much better than this: there’s more blue sky than menacing cloud cover and, spread out right in front of us is Zwartkops Raceway. On any day it’s an arena of motorsports and a drool worthy destination if you have a penchant for roarty sounding race classics and icons. Just a few 100 meters from where we are is a workshop that specializes in creating racing BMWs of all kind. A few paces further is a haven for modified VWs and, if you head deeper into the belly of the venue you will find a place where classic Alfa Romeos come to die, or to be resuscitated, only to die again.

Either way, this motorsport venue has much to offer in terms of sights and sounds but on this cool May Tuesday, it has been turned into a Coliseum with Mercedes-Benz Gladiators abound. E63 AMGs come and go into the AMG Driver Training building, itself gleaming with a fresh lick of paint thanks to recent renovations. A lone CLS 63 AMG mingles with its harem brethren and, a few meters away a pride of G63 AMGs roar and snort into life while a 507 Edition also makes its presence felt nearby. It raptures away and disappears behind a bend on another short errand.

It’s an early start to the day and I’ve caught the MBSA party in final prep mode. It’s a beautiful commotion; controlled chaos if you like. Imagine a busy launch deck on a naval vessel where preparations to catapult a fighter jet off the deck and into the skies are being applied only it’s this company’s latest drool tool that is being introduced to the motoring media.

The Car

Every new AMG model is unleashed cloaked in a thick coat of anticipation but the hype and buzz that surrounds any new high performance C-Class is peerless. Not even the imminent SLS replacement – the AMG-GT – ignites debate as much as this mid-sized hot sedan. This is because the world has for a long while now been gripped and mesmerized by the drama and mystery that unfolds with every new entry into the performance D-segment. It’s a never-ending battle between junior flame-throwers from BMW, Mercedes and Audi, which have systematically turned into ruthless giant slayers from nowhere. With the arrival of a new C63 AMG the local fires of the kilowatt wars have certainly been stoked once more.

Off the cuff, the car is available in two power outputs and in various aesthetic taste and style. I’m of the opinion that the Edition 1 package is unlikely to be a big seller of the lot. This is because its garish and stripey ‘joie de vivre’ is honestly suited to the A45 AMG and its pimply profiled customers. You can also have it in regular executive form, with an array of muted colours that have helped MB coin the C63 AMG as the ‘Professional Driver’s Car.’ An options list is never far off and judging by the eclectic mix on the day, a tidy and largely anonymous lip-spoiler can make or break the appearance. For instance, this careful lashing of carbon-fibre effect strip will not rescue a bog-standard car with its uninspiring, unattractively chunky 18-inch rubber and alloy shape.

Conversely, the lip-spoiler is the perfect finisher if you’ve gone with the 19-inchers, and selected an apt alloy style.

My overall opinion is that it’s a handsome thing. It has an unmistakable air of purpose to the genre without going overboard by even a centimeter in its power bulges. Unlike a BMW M3 it looks exactly how Mercedes-Benz has nailed down its profiled buyer types; the professional aggressors.

Inside the car you will find…      

Typical new Mercedes-Benz design language… If ever there was an area where MB has tacked it down impressively in its latest stock it has got be the look and feel of its cabins. Any new Merc is aeons ahead of rivals in presenting the next chapter of dash design and the C63 introduces the company’s sports flavor the style. Carbon fibre is optional as inserts, including a spruced up iteration of the material with  a film of red mist and is known as red pepper is introduced.

The rest of the cool bits from the cabin are a higher-end central screen with more detailed graphics; a better looking and positively ‘clicky’ pair of steering wheel gear-flaps; more chrome than usual C-Class fare and a sports steering wheel wrapped in high quality alcantara. Without overlooking the brand new bucket chairs, electrically operated and prepped to be fitted with a race regulation harness, the C63 AMG cabin manages to translate sportiness without severing class and opulence.

Space is now a clichéd enquiry and the odd-ball shape of the new C-Class maximized living room from its birth. The real victory in this particular model is the eradication of the Achilles’ heel of most cars fitted with racy chairs upfront; rear legroom. It’s a good fit for even the tallest of individuals.

The verdict here is predicable. Mercedes-Benz seemingly has lured the best upholsterers and used the burliest of Germans to design the cabin.             

Pop The Engine lid and…

You will be faced with the company’s newest engineering masterpiece, a new 4.0-litre Biturbo V8 in place of the 6.2-litre destroyer of the last generation. Any first experience of this new mill will be a comparison to the old engine and straight away I’ll inform you that it has lost none of the brutality. In fact it’s more violent now, especially in ‘S’ form where it wields 375kW and a SUV type 700Nm. And it’s far more refined too. The standard car makes do 350kW and 650Nm, which isn’t shabby at all considering what its peers are packing right now.

Once more it’s a 7-speed automatic gearbox that transfers the demands of power to the rear wheels in either engine guise, and enhanced for maximum attack as it is for minimum fuel usage. The engines are identical in every sense of the word expect that boost in C63S is pegged at 1.2bar while the ordinary car produces 1.1bar. Detailed variances will mostly be applied to the computer brain for the ‘S’ version to return 4.0 seconds in a dash to 100km/h and a spectacularly sluggish 4.1 seconds for the regular car.  Either way you get a car that promises to deliver and surpass expectations whether used as a daily runner or daily terrorist to M3s.

Is it better than a BMW M3?

It certainly packs scarier figures in C63 S AMG and the power is relentless in any gear at any rev point. What was evident is that it it’s exceptionally comfortable, even on the roads that would anger most sporting models. Without an M3 alongside it would be futile to make a call. It’s certainly competent on twisty roads as it is capable of reeling in a mile. Where I’m standing the status quo remains. You want an out and out race tool that M3 is will deliver. If you want something that is accomplished as a daily runner and for casual rather than dedicated track day outings; the new C63 is looking like your car. Until we can place them side-by-side, road and timing tools in hand, I’m not inserting that head in the guillotine.

Why should buy the C63 instead of the M3

  • If you value subtle war paint
  • If exceptional comfort is the be all and end all
  • If you want a sea of active safety systems
  • If you fancy 375kW and 700Nm under your Pringle boot
  • And if you want to shout out your presence through a sports exhaust

Why should you buy the M3 and not the C63 AMG

  • If you want single seat racer kind sensations
  • If you want edgy fighter jet looks of aggression
  • If you want obsessive engineering feats
  • If you want genuine track day ability
  • If you don’t want a C63.

 

Pricing: C63 – R1 004 700

              C63 S  – R1 163 800

For more info go to www.mercedes-benz.co.za

 

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