Road Test of the Year 2016: Mercedes-AMG C63S Review

When people first read that Mercedes-AMG would be ditching the fire-breathing 6.2-litre V8 used in the original C63 for a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged one, there was outcry. That naturally-aspirated unit was full of character – not to mention horsepower – and gave the first-generation car a huge amount of charisma. Downsizing, people thought, would take away some of the thuggish charm that came with the first C63.

Were those people right? Absolutely not. Although it's lost a slight bit of vocal edge at the top end, this all-new engine is just as much of a riot as the original. With more of a Messerschmitt under your right foot than a motor, the new C63S has all the character you could want in a car.

How, I hear you ask, does this apply to sweeping Welsh country roads? Very nicely, I'd respond. In coupe form, the C63S feels surprisingly agile around tight bends, especially for what is essentially a muscle car. It's a lively old fellow, however, and in the wet the 510 horses being sent to the rear wheels can make for a driving experience that sits on the scarier side of things. It's manageable, but the C63S breaks traction so much that you'd think there were space-saver tyres fitted to the back.

However, when it's dry and you point the Mercedes bonnet bulge in the direction of some corners, it really does come into its own.

Although fitted with paddles, sometimes the car is best left in automatic mode, leaving that V8's incredible torque – all 700Nm of it – to do the work. There's a real energy that comes with the C63S, especially when negotiating switchback corners in it. If you're gradual with the controls, then it's a car that will devour a country road rather easily.

On the striking asphalt of north Wales, the C63S feels very much at home. Some may argue that it's a little too heavy to make the most of the tight ribbons of blacktop that litter the area, but I disagree. The car's steering is precise, despite not giving a huge amount of feedback.

Mercedes C63 AMG

Mercedes C63 AMG

That means it's not tricky to place the car on the road. In dry conditions, you can drive in neatly and quickly – it doesn't have to be a smoking, snarling hooligan all of the time.

At lower speeds, you certainly notice the firm ride, though. We can't vouch for Snowdonia's road quality – in some places it resembles the site of the Moon landings – but through potholes the C63S really does crash, though this most likely comes from a combination of suspension, and tyres that appear to be painted on.

Those tyres are part of the C63's brilliant aesthetic though, sitting under hugely flared wheel arches and a body style that looks as if it wants to pick a fight with any car it comes into contact with. Think one of the Kray brothers wearing a three-pronged knuckle-duster.

There are some elements of the Mercedes that don't quite work, though. The interior, for instance, doesn't have quite the fit and finish that you'd expect for a close-to-£70,000 car. The infotainment system isn't the best, either.

But these are extremely tiny flies in what is a large amount of ointment. For the most part, the C63S is an exhilarating and addictive car to drive, even if it occasionally rattles inside.

For the vast majority of the time, it's all the car you could want. It's fast, exciting to both sit in and look at, as well as extremely capable. Sure, it's thirsty and lacks the sharpness or poise offered by some rivals, but when you hit that large silver starter button, all of these issues quickly fade away. In short, driving this car is an experience that's hard to knock.

Mercedes-AMG C63S
Price: £68,070
Engine: 4.0-litre bi turbo V8
Power: 510bhp, 700Nm
Top speed: 155mph
0-60: 3.9 seconds
Fuel economy: 32.8mpg (comb'd)
Emissions: 200g/km

Review written by Jack Evans