MERCEDES-AMG C63 S ESTATE ROAD TEST

Want to take the family somewhere really fast? Or simply want skid marks? The C63 S Estate is the car for you.

Nutter bastard; this is a phrase one of my younger colleagues uses far too often. But finally I’ve found a car that adequately suits the term. Nutter bastard by name, nutter bastard by nature. Sending 510bhp to the rear wheels in a family shooting brake is ludicrous and I love Mercedes for doing it. There are few and far between production cars that have made me smile quite as much as this hooligan has, not least helped by the PR chaps who helpfully leaned in through the window once I got in and turned it to sport +, exhaust valves open and traction off. I like the confidence they had in me…

C63 SC63 S

This is the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate. It features the signature 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo used across the range, this time the wick is turned up to the tune of 510bhp and a colossal 516lb ft of torque. All of this continues to go through the rear-wheels, rather than adopt its bigger brother’s four-wheel drive system. Inside, our test car was fitted with the premium plus package, which includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 360 degree camera (useful when parking), Burmeister sound system (which is off the scale in terms of clarity, depth and overall performance) and a panoramic electric sunroof. The car was also opted with 19-inch wheels, AMG Night Package, which is a black dress up for the exterior and special paint. Why am I telling you all this? I think it’s important to know that this car £85,398.

C63 SC63 S

Normally this would be the part where I moan about how expensive cars are becoming, but here, this is different. The C63 S is a beautiful place to be. Here we have a manufacturer that doesn’t leave any stones unturned. There are no horrible plastics, the switches are nice to touch, even the fan surrounds are brushed metal and the seats are about the best I’ve sat in. While they’re essentially a lightweight bucket, which seems odd in a family estate, they’re brilliantly supportive and ultimately comfy. The infotainment system is brilliant, but there’re so many sub-sections through the menus that you’ll need to read the manual to understand what the hell is going on. There are also a million different dynamic settings in the drive modes, custom settings for engine, gearbox, steering and exhaust, as well as the adjustability of torque distribution to the rear, which comes in basic, advanced, pro and master. Basic over here then.

C63 SC63 S

What’s nice is that Mercedes has now introduced the sports exhaust system on AMG models as standard, which gives you the option on how asbo you want it. Want to be civilised? Leave it in comfort and auto and you’ll whistle on by. Want to wake up mates in the next postcode and potentially give the UN a fright that Thor is attacking? Switch it to Sport + and bury the throttle. OK, it doesn’t sound as good as the old 6.2-litre V8, but in modern times where everything is becoming so more restrictive, it’s a beautiful tone. The “Hot V8” as Mercedes likes to call it (turbos located inside the two banks of four cylinders) is a winning formula for Mercedes, and has been for some time now, featuring first some five years ago.

The C63 S also uses something called AMG Ride Control, which does a brilliant job of giving the car a multitude of characteristics dependent on drive mode. Think of those personalities like James McAvoy’s character in Split and you’ll be well on the way to describing this nutty fruit cake. It’s refined and comfy when you slot it into sedate mode and the opposite when you head into sport. Simple as.

Also new is the nine-stage AMG traction control system borrowed from the AMG GT R. Here you can decide just how sideways you would like to go. What’s neat is that the drive modes and traction settings are controlled through a neat rotary controller attached to the wheel.

The drive

Trying to go straight is about the only gripe I had with it. And that’s not a gripe, I love to man handle a machine (easy now), this is something we’re quickly losing in the performance world. Cars are becoming so damn easy to drive quickly, any old hector (no MoTec system exhausts needed here) can jump in and send it. This requires thought, you stab the throttle you better be ready to fight back. OK, we better mention that this car was tested on a sunny, but damp day in December, temperatures didn’t rise above 3 degrees, so grip wasn’t exactly readily available and thus it would be unfair to categorically say it was lairy all of the time. Once you kept it straight, it eventually hooks up and f***s off, if you excuse my language.

The C63 S is a mightily quick machine, no matter if it does weigh a whopping 1825kg! Weight here, though, is beneficial. While the car feels lairy, it’s sure footed and confident. It doesn’t feel like it would get away from you, you feel like you’re in control. There are on occasion when light cars with snap oversteer can feel the opposite, where you become a passenger just catching up. This gives you the confidence to exploit its yobbish nature and just enjoy yourself, hence my beaming smile.

Sat behind the wheel and attacking a small section of back road you suddenly forget this is an estate. It no longer feels the same length as a bus; if I’m honest, it feels as sharp as its coupé brethren. Now that is a feat. Suddenly you start to wonder why you’d need any other car. Think about it, this would make mince meat of most if not all hot hatches and sports cars when driven properly, you can take the family, the dog, the luggage for a week’s holiday and the kitchen sink and still have room for the spare jerry cans of Shell’s finest fuel (other options are available) that you’ll inevitably need. On said note, combined MPG is 25. But who really cares if you’re buying an AMG.

C63 SC63 S

The only option you get when it comes to gearboxes is a 9-speed MCT. It’s a dual-clutch gearbox developed and made by Mercedes, with paddles attached to the steering wheel. Normally I would complain about the lack of a manual, but here, in an estate (remember!) this is the perfect combo. You aren’t going to be heeling-and-toeing with the family on board, nor would you particularly want to. The dual clutch system is too good not to want it. The gearshifts are eye-wateringly fast and offer their own theatrical production, with rasps and farts on application. It’s also nice to keep downshifting unnecessarily to get those overrun burbles. While inevitably they’re engineered, it’s far more acceptable to have overrun burbles on a thumping great twin-turbo V8 with over 500 horses, rather than your Ford Fiesta, if you catch my drift.

Verdict

I liked the C63 S Estate, a lot. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Big power, heavy, but above all, an estate, doesn’t usually fit into my criteria of what makes a car good. Now other journalists might dive into why such and such isn’t as good as other rivals, why the RS4/RS6 covers ground quicker because of AWD or why the car you actually want is the E-Class estate, I’m going to leave you with this. I had my usual resting bitch face when I got into the car before heading out for a drive, and when I got back I was laughing and couldn’t stop smiling. Isn’t that what motoring is all about? Isn’t that the reason why we love cars? The emotions they help create is why we’re addicted to them. I couldn’t care that it’s £85k, it’s bloody brilliant.

Tech Spec

Performance: 510hp @5500rpm-6250rpm, 516lb ft @ 2000-4500rpm
0-62mph: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 174mph
Engine: 4.0-litre bi-turbo, AMG electronic rear axle differential lock

Modifications

We already know that these V8 motors are good for far more power, so why not eek a little more out… a simple remap will see closer to 600bhp, with exhaust, downpipes and intercooler upgrades will see you over the 600bhp mark.

While it already sounds brilliant, a decat pipe will help bring out some more aggressive overrun burbles and pops. While you’re at it, you make it a tad more aggressive with a new full exhaust from someone like Milltek.

All dependent on spec, if you don’t opt for those 19 inch forged wheels, we’d be tempted to go BBS FI-R. They looked the business on the previous gen C-class and we reckon it’ll do the same on the estate.

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