You never forget your first AMG drive. Even after just hearing it’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine firing up for the first time, under the protruding hood of what was in 2015 the all-new Mercedes-AMG C63 S, I was instantly smitten.
That’s why I’m entirely fine with Mercedes-AMG retaining the same engine in this model year 2019 AMG C63 S mid-cycle refresh. Mind you, that’s not to say Mercedes’ formidable tuners have slept on the rest of the car.
To prove it, Mercedes invited us to an all-you-can-drive track session at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, a killer track so brutal it could have easily been designed by Satan himself. Each and every metre of the 4.3km-long rollercoaster (and I mean that near literally) is always a challenge for me. It’s one of the most exciting I’ve ever tackled, as it demands respect, and most importantly it takes a big toll on the car.
Mercedes-AMG is known for producing cars that demand respect, too. The most thrilling version of the C-Class family still comes in the form of a coupe, sedan or convertible, and in either C63 and C63 S.
In my opinion, the no-compromise C63 S which we’re here for is absolutely the way to go. Power comes courtesy of a retuned version of the C63’s 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8, good for 375 kW, while the maximum torque is 700 Nm. Depending on body style, the C 63 S accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds. The C 63 S Sedan and Coupé have a top speed of 290 km/h, and the C 63 S Cabriolet reaches 280 km/h (electronically limited in each case).. The engine is bolted to an AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 9-speed automatic transmission.
All of the above numbers are good to give the BMW M3 with Competition Package a serious run for its money. Standard features for the 2019 Mercedes-AMGC63 S are an AMG-specific Panamericana grille, revised taillights, extended AMG Dynamics driving modes, new chrome quad tailpipes, and a belligerent diffuser. It also gets dynamic engine mounts from base.
“The AMG C-Class is our best-selling model series and therefore a key cornerstone of our company’s success of recent years,” Selvin Govender, Marketing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars, clarifies of the thinking behind the refresh.
Icons like these can’t just go fast on the road, they need to ride well too. The 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 S packs a retuned version of the AMG Ride Control system, which uses steel springs with adaptive dampers and an electronically measured rear-axle limited-slip differential. Then the AMG GT R donates its nine-stage traction control. If the C63 S was already a beastly car to start with, by allowing owners to set the level of traction control on the fly that’s potentially a big advantage over its competitors.
To begin you turn the traction control completely off. You’ll notice on your steering wheel the addition of new dial buttons on your steering wheel hanging down like an awkward pair of fangs transform into a toggle for the traction control. Levels at 1, 2, and 3 keep the traction control fairly involved, while notching over to 4, 5, or 6 starts to let you have some real fun. For pro-drivers or the foolish kind, take your pick as levels 7, 8, and 9 await, with the potential for extreme fun or maximum repair bills.
Luckily the instructors from AMG Driving are no fools, they started us off at level 5 and worked us up, finding the back of the car really starts to kick out from stage 7 and beyond. It’s addictive, but screwing up meant tragedy so, after getting a feel for the feature as it’s planned, I didn’t want to push things. At lower levels the C63 S will step in to save you; past 6 or 7, you’re pretty much on your own. As I calmly said to my co-driver George Matsheke (of Marvin.co.za), “If you die, you die”.
All of the revamped 2019 Mercedes AMG C63 models are also getting the latest-generation AMG steering wheel, with a heavily contoured rim and galvanized shift paddles.
Looking further inside, I’m thrilled to see the updated 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with reconfigurable display replacing the dated analogue gages found in the departing cars. While I do prefer Audi’s virtual cockpit, Mercedes-AMG hasn’t stinted on custom features for these sporting cars. As for the 10.25-inch infotainment display propped high in the center console, it still runs the old version of Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system. I was genuinely looking forward to seeing MBUX here, the newest iteration, but we’re told we’d need to wait a few years for that in the all-new C63 S.
Even several sensible steps back from that limit, though, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is stunningly good fun. With more power and torque in the C63 S compared to the Audi RS5 and BMW M4, not to mention a more raw, enthusiastic driving experience from behind the wheel, AMG’s latest isn’t just fast but engaging across all the senses. Given it’s priced at under R1.65m for the 2019 C63 S coupe or sedan, that strikes me as positively a bargain.