Test drive: Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate

Test drive: Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate

11th May 2019

Mercedes-AMG has updated its popular C63 S Estate – but what difference have the changes made? Jack Evans finds out

What is it?

How do you improve a package like the C63 S? Well, if you’re Mercedes-AMG, you leave the key components alone. So for this mid-life facelifted C63, you’ll find the same bellowing 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine under the bonnet with the same power output and, to the casual eye, the same exterior too.

However, they have changed a few key features to make it sharper, more capable and better to live with than before. We went out in the estate version to see what’s what.

How does it look?

The C63 is available in four bodystyles: saloon, estate, coupé and convertible. We’d argue that though the coupé will be one of the most popular options, the estate is the one to go for.

There’s something effortlessly cool about a car that can out-perform most supercars, while also providing enough room for a family of four and their luggage. It’s a relatively subtle design, but there are a few clear indications of the car’s underlying performance dotted around it.

The four exhaust pipes are a pretty big giveaway, complemented by the new vertical slatted grille design, which reflects those used by other AMG models.

The C63 has always managed to look purposeful without shouting about it too much – and this latest model achieves that just as well.

What’s new?

While key features have been left unchanged, the old seven-speed gearbox has been ditched in favour of a nine-cog option, and an electronic limited-slip differential is now standard across the range, not just on S models like the one we’re testing.

A new, more complex traction control system has been included too, along with a refreshed grille and rear diffuser. The 19-inch forged alloy wheels fitted to our test car are also new.

But engine outputs remain the same, as do the performance stats and top speed, despite the engine having been tweaked to meet new emissions tests.

What’s under the bonnet?

Under the C63 S bonnet lies the same sensational 4.0-litre biturbo V8 that you would’ve found in the pre-facelift AMG. S models get the full-fat 503bhp; non-S models have to make do with ‘just’ 469bhp.

There’s 700Nm of torque on tap, and it’s all sent to the rear wheels via the aforementioned nine-speed gearbox.

Mercedes claims the C63 S will go from 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds, and will top out at an electronically limited 174mph.

As you’d expect for a V8 engine, economy figures aren’t the best at 28.3mpg combined – and you’ll do well to achieve anywhere near this if you exploit even a fraction of the car’s performance. Emissions stand at 229wg/km CO2.

What’s it like to drive?

Though the updates to the C63 S may be subtle, they make a big impact. The largest of these is made by the new gearbox. The new nine-speed auto is smooth and predictable, and allows you to fully make use of the engine’s performance. Third and fourth gears are sensational, as is the engine’s near unending appetite for revs.

The electronic rear differential means that, despite the car’s rear-driven nature, you can drive it neatly and exploit its natural tendency to rotate to sweep it around the bends, before using the huge reservoir of torque to fire you out of the other side.

The suspension feels a touch too firm for UK roads, however, even in its softest settings. This issue could likely be alleviated by fitting smaller 18-inch wheels. It is, in truth, a tiny complaint in what is an otherwise sterling package.

What’s it like inside?

Mercedes has worked hard to lift the quality of its interiors in recent years, which is evident in the cabin of the C63. Though some harder plastics remain, there’s still plenty of high-quality metal and leather-wrapped sections to be found.

A vast swathe of carbon fibre has been used to trim the central dashboard section, and though the cover for the storage area in the middle of the cabin feels a touch flimsy, it is generally a high-quality place to be.

And, because it’s an estate, there’s bags of space. Backseat passengers aren’t spoilt with legroom, but there’s more than enough for most. When it comes to boot space, there’s 490 litres to play with when the seats are in place, rising to 1,480 litres with them folded down.

What’s the spec like?

Mercedes has now fitted the C63 with its 12.3-inch digital dashboard as standard across the range. It’s a high-tech addition to the car, and allows you to tailor the way the dials look with all manner of different combinations. Some are a little too busy and can be tricky to read, but you can change them if you don’t like them, after all.

This is fitted alongside a 10.25-inch central infotainment display running Merc’s latest software. It’s a simple system to get along with, and is controlled by a central rotary dial – a welcome change from the current trend of touchscreen versions which can be tricky to use on the move.

You now get a redesigned steering wheel, which features a rotary control dial for elements such as the traction control, exhaust modes and drive settings. It’s a useful feature which you find yourself using quite frequently.

Verdict

The C63 S, in truth, never needed much tweaking but the changes made in this latest model refine the package even further. It remains almost mesmerisingly capable, somehow managing to supply effortlessly fast ground-covering abilities in a car which you’d happily drive day-in, day-out.

Yes, running costs are likely to be high but perhaps it's a worthwhile trade-off in a car that’ll leave you grinning from ear to ear every time you get behind the wheel.

Facts at a glance

Model as tested: Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate

Price as tested: £89,213

Engine: 4.0-litre biturbo V8

Power: 503bhp

Torque: 700Nm

Max speed: 174mph

0-60mph: 3.9 seconds

MPG: 28.3

Emissions: 229wg/km

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