Mercedes-AMG C63 S 2018 UK review
More complex C63 S seems at odds with previous versions but retains an engine that embodies the pure essence of AMG
Line four of the technical specification for this facelifted Mercedes-AMG C63 S is peculiar. It simply states ‘503bhp at 5500-6250rpm’, which is no more than you got in the old Mercedes-AMG C63 S.Hang on a second. Power – specifically, more power than the outgoing model – is AMG’s oldest, dearest friend. So what’s going on?It’s possible that the German power wars are finally drawing to a close. More probable is that giving the C-Class any more clout would result in it treading on the toes of the mighty E63 in terms of power-to-weight and performance, and today’s strict model hierarchies simply won’t permit this.Or perhaps Mercedes has decided that 503bhp and 516lb ft are enough for a junior saloon and has instead trained its expertise on making such explosive force more usable in the real world.The truth is somewhere between those second and third scenarios. In any case, no rival punched harder than the C63 S when it launched in 2015 and three years later, even after the arrival of a new B9-generation Audi RS4 Avant, the Ferrari-engined Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and a BMW M3 CS honed to supreme heights, this is still the case.So, what has changed? Little in terms of chassis hardware. Both the C63 and C63 S continue to use a wet-sumped 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8 and multi-link suspension with adaptive dampers and steel springs. Both also get an e-differential previously reserved for the S, although the more expensive car now also benefits from dynamic engine mounts that are said to improve steering feel and response.Things aren’t nearly so straightforward when it comes to the software. In fact, C63 S ownership now seems a voyage of discovery where the ultimate destination is a distant realm in which you’re not constantly tempted to tinker with the electronic chassis settings.Mercedes’ familiar Dynamic Select programme remains, with modes ranging from Slippery through Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Race. These alter engine and transmission response, steering weight, the firmness of the damping and the all-important exhaust tone.Additionally, there’s an AMG Dynamics programme that optimises (or otherwise, as we shall see) traction using the car’s ESP co-ordinated with a brake-based torque vectoring system. There are modes for this, too. Unambiguously named, they range from Basic through Advanced to Pro and finally Master, which programmes the differential to lock up early and aggressively.And you can’t miss the new AMG Traction Control system. Gone are the days when such software was either on or off, perhaps with a third option yielding a smidgen of slip but nothing potentially calamitous. Long gone. This C63 S has a nine-stage setup borrowed from the GT R supercar, which itself uses a derivation of a system found in Mercedes’ GT3 racers. Alterations are made using a digital rotary dial on the steering wheel, which looks slick but feels as though you might accidentally knock it off. In short, a car whose colossal appeal always sat atop relatively simple pleasures now seems to be an extraordinarily complicated device.