The Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe looks too Teutonic to be tempting, but then you turn it on
Manny Pacquiao is a rather silly looking fellow. Be honest — if you saw him in your local pub and didn’t know who he was you would probably have a bit of a laugh. That impish face. The diminutive stature. An underdeveloped moustache perched beneath flaring nostrils. You’d turn to your mate and have a giggle. Well that, my friend, would be a mistake of epic proportions. Because before the foam on your draught had time to settle, The Mexicutioner would be smashing you (and anybody else with a smile on their face for that matter) to the floor with his killer straight left.
Like this famous Filipino proves, our world is filled with people and things that aren’t, at first glance, exactly what they seem. The “beautiful women” of Soi Cowboy; Limpopo’s champion of the poor; Patrick Bateman in American Psycho; we could go on all day. And now there is something else to add to the list.
It’s the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe and it exists purely to chase down the two-door BMW M3. Be this as it may, it comes across as a bit of a luxo-barge; the sort of German trophy car our new chief of police might purchase with the remains of her last overly generous retrenchment package. I appreciate the fact that it has a rather large rear air-diffuser and, among many other things, a revised front apron. But parked in our office lot, the C63 AMG Coupe still seemed too corporate for its own good. Donald Trump to the BMW’s Usain Bolt.
There’s a similar story when you investigate this machine’s innards. Traditionally AMG products are supposed to showcase the hard lessons learnt on the world’s most fearsome racetracks. With this in mind, you’re expecting a stripped-down interior festooned with lots of gravity-cheating carbon-fibre and little in the way of creature comforts. Wrong. A cocoon of creamy white leather, the C63 AMG Coupe I drove felt more like a cramped S-Class with rear seats engineered for midgets. It had no shortage of toys either. A hard drive on which to store your favourite tunes. Heated seats to keep your aged father happy. Even a rear-view camera to counteract the poor aft visibility. The number of gizmos shoehorned into this car could fill an entire issue of Stuff magazine.
So going on these first impressions, I found it easy to initially write this car off as a brash status symbol; automotive jewellery designed to capture the attention of Black Diamonds and other nouveau-riche magpies. While strapping into the driver’s seat I had images of a Hugo Boss- suited Kenny Kunene eating California Rolls off its aluminium bonnet.
Fortunately this disturbing vision shattered once I twisted the ignition and the V8 engine thundered into life. Yep, don’t believe its lies for another second — beneath that shameless veneer of grandiosity beats the heart of a purebred muscle car — a modern-day Dodge Charger dedicated to the shameless pursuit of hooliganism. Its sports exhaust system, for example, is so ridiculously loud that on a clear day you can hear it from the moon. Capable of setting off your house alarm at 20 paces, it also pops and woofles every time you call that not-so-snappy AMG Speedshift MCT gearbox (there’s no dual-clutch trickery here) into action. Not since the Chevrolet Lumina UTE SS have I met a vehicle with such aural presence.
It is also astonishingly quick. I have driven many a fast car in my time but few come close to the way this Mercedes piles on the speed. Something like an Audi RS5 feels smooth and composed when reeling in the horizon, but the C63 AMG Coupe turns every furious quarter-mile into a mechanical pantomime. It rocks your senses like Freddie Mercury rocked those arena-sized crowds — something that never fails to leave you thirsting for more.
But like all charismatic frontmen, this Mercedes-Benz does have eccentricities. Being endowed with unnecessarily light steering means it doesn’t despatch corners with quite the same relish as a BMW M3. And no matter how skilled a driver you think you might be, turning off the traction control is like Russian roulette — violent death is never more than a careless throttle prod away. Finally — should you ever venture out onto a circuit — you’ll discover that this Merc’s computerised brain, sensing destruction by overheating, has a nasty habit of putting both the engine and gearbox into limp mode after just one or two hot laps. An odd foible that few buyers would expect from a car with the famous AMG badge on its rump.
Not that any of this matters. Because what the C63 AMG Coupe lacks in on-track finesse it more than makes up for in character, soul and delivery. Just like Manny Pacquiao, it’s a deceptive bugger: a gun-slinging, whisky-toting outlaw of a car with a heart bigger than Texas. Whereas the BMW M3 has made a name for itself by taking life seriously, all this Mercedes-Benz wants to do is have a good old time. And for that reason alone I found it very hard not to be smitten.
Engine: 6 208cc V8
Power: 336kW @ 6 800rpm
Torque: 600Nm @ 5 000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed auto
0-100km/h: 4.4 seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 250km/h (limited)
Fuel: 17.2l/100km (achieved combined)
Price: From R950 500
[Photo: Copyright Paul Shiakallis]
As the saying goes “don’t judge a book by its cover”, same thing applies to this Mercedes Benz C63. Unsightly or abysmal interior and physical outlook certainly do not determine poor performance, for this particular car, at least. With the V8 engine, sports exhaust system and an AMG speedshift MCT gearbox, I’m sure any speed car enthusiasts would be more than thrilled to give this baby a test drive. If driven at normal roads, drivers would undoubtedly get drawn to this car due to its fast pickup ability and great torque. However, you would need a racetrack and drive a few laps before you can discover a safety feature of the car, which is its computerized brain, sensing destruction by overheating thus putting both the engine and gearbox into limp mode after just one or two hot laps.