SIX LAPS ISN'T A WHOLE LOT OF TIME TO GET ACQUAINTED WITH A CAR. But when Mercedes calls up and says it has two C63 S Coupes in-country and a half-day’s worth of track time, it’s an opportunity you don’t turn down.
The two-door companion to the C63 Sedan and C63 Estate is now available for order from $162,400, but local deliveries aren’t due to begin until July. We’ll have a more comprehensive drive in a couple of months, but this week we were able to have a sneaky spin of AMG’s newest red-hot two-door.
But first, let’s address the elephant in the room: its cost. Yep, it’s a pricey thing.
BMW will sell you an M4 Coupe for $149,900 and the Lexus RC F costs a mere $133,110. Even the most expensive variant of Lexus’ V8 two-door, the RC F Carbon, is priced well under the C63 S Coupe at $147,110.
But what neither of those cars have is the C63 Coupe’s gloriously powertrain.
With 4.0 litres of displacement, eight cylinders and two turbochargers, the C63 Coupe’s engine makes 375kW of power and a fat 700Nm of torque. The M4’s twin-turbo 3.0 litre six has 317kW and 550Nm, the Lexus’ 5.0 litre naturally-aspirated V8 makes 351kW and 530Nm.
At 1800kg empty the C63 S Coupe is nearly 300kg heavier than the BMW yett 60kg lighter than the RC F, but despite its heft it sprints better than either. At 3.9 seconds from zero to 100km/h, it’s 0.2 seconds faster than the BMW M4 and 0.6 seconds faster than the Lexus RC F.
Straight line stats only tell part of the story, however. Here’s what we discovered during our brief time with it at the track.
Vehicle Style: Prestige high-performance coupe
Engine/trans: 375kW/700Nm 4.0 turbo petrol 8cyl | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.7 l/100km
The venue is Sydney Motorsport Park, using the 3.9km GP configuration. We’ve got two cars to drive - C63 S Coupe, and the C63 S Coupe Edition 1. We started off with the “regular” C63 Coupe.
Exiting the pits into SMSP’s long and fast turn one, the C63 S Coupe’s soundtrack as the revs build and the throttle is buried should be familiar to anyone who’s driven the C63 sedan or estate.
There are thunderclaps on every gearchange, and a heavy metal percussion from the quad exhaust tips as the tachometer needle rises. The two-door C63 has a Performance Exhaust that differs from the sedan and wagon’s pipes, but the tune isn’t all that different. The volume is definitely more pronounced, however.
Another difference between the coupe and its four and five-door siblings lies between the rear wheels. The Coupe scores a electronically-controlled rear limited-slip differential, capable of adjusting the level of differential-lock to help with traction during cornering.
And for a rear-driven performance car with 700Nm, the C63 S Coupe sure does a decent job of keeping its back wheels in check. Even in the sportier S+ drive mode (we didn’t get the opportunity to test the looser Race mode) the back end rarely wiggles free under power.
But then again, it’s obvious that there’s a great deal of electronics between the accelerator pedal and the engine, and it’s working nearly constantly to keep the C63 Coupe from oversteering into the scenery.
How do we know? That tell-tale pause in power delivery as the computer determines that no, the steering wheel is turned too far for the full whack of its 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 to be delivered. It takes careful driving to keep the computer happy, and it’s always clear there’s more than enough engine here to overwhelm the rear tyres completely - tricky diff or not.
The seven-speed automatic gearbox is outstanding though. In auto mode it shifts intelligently and downchanges during hard braking, with crisp upchanges and perfectly rev-matched downshifts.
In manual mode it’s got lightning response to the wheel-mounted shift paddles, and the tachometer and shift lights in the standard head-up display add a touch of video game cool factor.
On the plus side, the C63 Coupe’s electrically-assisted steering is accurate with a pleasing weight to it, consistent feel and decent feedback. It’s not too sharp, which makes it easy to be smooth with your inputs.
There’s plenty of front-end grip to exploit, but it’s obvious that there’s a reasonable amount of weight in the nose of this super-coupe. That said, it’s an adjustable chassis that responds well to measured throttle inputs on corner exit - provided you don’t awaken the stability control.
We moved up into the Edition 1 after three laps in the regular C63 S Coupe, with the only major mechanical difference being the addition of lightweight wheels and 402m ceramic composite front brake rotors that shave even more kilos.
Alas, a few short laps didn’t reveal much insight into the carbon-ceramics. We can say this though - they’re progressive, bite hard even when cold and perform just as well as the already-excellent 390mm steel front rotors. Carbon ceramic brakes can often be temperamental, but these aren’t.
It’s hard to come to a definitive conclusion after so little time behind the wheel, but even a brief taste of this car leaves a lasting impression. It’s quick, very quick indeed, but it does have some slight shortcomings.
Besides its overwhelming speed, you’re conscious of two things - its weight, and the fact that an AWD drivetrain would probably make better use of the C63’s prodigious 700Nm torque output. It’s a brawler, not a ballerina.
That said, it still exhibits plenty of finesse. It’s not a straight-line hero, it can be hustled quickly around a circuit too. It’s a shame our first experience was it was so limited, but we’ll spend more time behind the wheel at its full launch in June and discover more about Benz’s fiesty new two-door.