Shredding tyres on a fourth-gear corner around the torturous Blister Berg raceway before hitting a 200km/h straight isn’t the sort thing I’d normally try and attempt – especially in the tail-happy Mercedes-AMG C63.
But Mercedes-AMG engineers worked hard to make it easier for customers to make the most of a cult-favourite performance car, introducing race-bred technology transferred directly from Bathurst and the Nurburgring to make its next-generation machines a little less intimidating.
And it works as advertised.
What makes this finest balance of physics possible isn’t the car’s awesome V8 or raw driving talent to rival Lewis Hamilton (I wish), but a new traction control system tasked with taming one of the most skid-happy cars on the road.
Visually, the easiest way to separate the new model from its predecessor is by checking out the grille - new models have a “Panamericana” front end with chromed vertical slats, as opposed to the previous car’s horizontal beam stretching either side of the three-pointed star. Other tweaks include subtly revised lights and bumpers only trainspotters will notice.
Set to arrive locally in August or September, the new C63 will cost a little more than its predecessor, suggesting you will need more than $160,000 to get hold of one.
As before, the C63 is available in a range body styles including four-door sedan or estate options, along with a two-door coupe and convertible.
We tested the car in sedan and coupe form, finding that the two-door’s wider rear end and bigger tyres offer superior traction to the saloon and slightly trickier dynamics at the limit of grip.
Australia continues to skip the regular C63 in favour of a more powerful “S” model which makes 375kW and 700Nm - exactly the same outputs as before.
Whatever way you go, the model’s tireless engine, thunderous soundtrack and surging performance remain core to its appeal. And they have a better support network than ever - particularly if you plump for optional carbon ceramic brakes.
New AMG Track Pace apps included in the widescreen infotainment display allow you to record lap times and key vehicle data when pressing on, saving them for later analysis.
You can choose from pre-loaded circuits or record your own favourite track, the car saving key info such as braking points, corners and split times which are projected onto its colour head-up display system in a similar manner to driving guides in popular video games such as Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport.
An updated cabin is home to a broader choice of materials and new quilted sports seats available with heating, ventilation and adjustable side bolsters.
It also benefits from running changes offered throughout the rest of the C-Class range, including a new 12.3-inch digital dashboard and widescreen infotainment display with a 360-degree camera and Apple CarPlay.
A new flat-bottomed, suede-wrapped steering wheel on the C63 features fresh controls including a small round dial on its right hand side used to cycle through various drive modes and adjust the AMG’s level of traction control on a scale from one to nine, with setting 10 representing total deactivation.
ON THE ROAD
Like a careful start to a new relationship, the traction control system allows you to grow with the car throughout the course of ownership, experimenting together until you’re completely comfortable with the AMG’s wild side.
Your skills can grow to match the car’s ability, rather than experiencing everything a model has to offer in your first month together before casting sideways glances at enticing shapes in the traffic.
AMG Traction Control really does have the potential to spice up life with the C63.
It’s part of a new suite of AMG Dynamics drive modes which access a new electronically controlled limited slip differential and torque-vectoring system, active engine mounts, revised multi-mode suspension and a new nine-speed automatic gearbox tasked with making the machine more liveable on a daily basis. The brand listened to complaints from customers and critics, broadening the C63’s skill set to make it both more comfortable in traffic and engaging on the track.
Outstanding driver aids take the sting out of the daily commute - we came across a crash and subsequent traffic jam before letting the C63 handle stop-start traffic by itself.
You can change lanes with the flick of an indicator, allowing the car to make sure it is safe to cross dotted lines before shifting smoothly across the road.
Mercedes’ understanding of real-world traffic environments is better than ever - when our lane ended at one point, the C63 merged across and tucked in behind another car on its own, albeit under close supervision.
German roads smoother than a Neil Patrick Harris one-liner make it difficult to say whether revised suspension will be comfortable on Australian tarmac, though our gut feeling is that it won’t match the supple tune of the new Audi RS4 Avant.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Despite a similar looking recipe to before the updated C63 is nothing like an ordinary car - it's a partner capable of shouldering the burden of traffic jams before helping them reach new thrills on the circuit. And who doesn't want a partner like that?