By Melinda Ferguson
After spending a week in the super-powerful V8 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Melinda Ferguson was hooked to speed. She thought she was coming down in the entry-level C-180, but she was in for a surprise.
Let’s get this right out of the way. I’m an unashamed Merc ho. I’m also somewhat partial to speed. The kind you find under the hood, not in the hood.
So when the facelifted Mercedes-AMG C63 S sedan was delivered to my doorstep, the world and its problems disappeared for a few days.
The new range officially touched down in SA in May this year, offering a sedan, coupe and cabriolet to wet AMG appetites. They all share their previous generation’s much-celebrated twin-turbo 4,0-litre V8 engine, impolitely offering 375 kW and 700 Nm to the rear wheels. Mein Gott!
The updated Panamericana grille is the bomb. Instead of vertical louvres it’s gone horizontal and boy does it work to give the beast an even more fearsome face to match its V8 power. If you’re into exhausts which I am, there are remodelled twin tailpipes. Then there’s the upgraded AMG Speedshift MCT 9G transmission (adding two more gears for improved acceleration to its Multi Clutch Transmission). It’s also got something new called a “wet start-off clutch, which means exactly what it intimates – you can fearlessly play with this beast in the wet in “slippery mode”. Other modes include Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race and Individual. Let your imagination fly.
Wheels are my thing, but steering wheels are really my soft spot. The latest C63 has one of the finest to ever grace my grubby paws. Trimmed in soft plush Nappa leather, it’s an uber sporty design with a heavily contoured rim. It’s also extremely clever with a host of touch control buttons that allow you to access the high tech infotainment system. To top it off there are galvanised steering paddles if you want to switch from auto to some more hands-on driving.
It’s not hard to do the maths here. The C63 S is fast, very fast in all its guises. In coupé form, she sprints from 0-100kms/h in just 3.9 seconds. My beautiful sedan was slightly slower at 4.0 seconds while the cabriolet is 0.1 seconds slower at 4.1. The top speed in the coupé and sedan is 290km/ while the topless babe is electronically limited to 280 km/h. My test unit had the sports exhaust, with the option to set it to it’s most vocal mode. Primal, throaty, furious beast. Enough said.
The price is somewhat gulp-inducing starting at a cool R1 546 600 for the AMG C63 S sedan. But for a week I got to play like a proper millionaire. Having to hand her back was hard. I felt rather down and out.
When the straight C- Class 180 replaced my speed beast I’m ashamed to admit I could hardly bring myself to turn on the ignition of my newer lowly model. But I was in for a surprise – a very pleasant surprise. With its 115kW and 250 Nm turbocharged petrol engine and celebrated 9-speed auto transmission, plus with power sent to the rear wheels, the C180 was pretty powerful. Sure it was more than 4 seconds slower than the beasty 63, traveling 0-100kms in just over 8 seconds, but there was plenty of oomph in this beaut. Plus at the tanks it showed frugal figures consuming around 7litres/100kms. It still swaggered Merc class with a diamanté type grill and high quality finishes and in true Merc tradition, safety and driver tech include as standard ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Traction and stability control and 7 airbags. Other standard features include keyless start, power steering, cruise control, LED headlights, alloy wheels, and a rearview camera. And costing around R900k less than it’s sporty compatriot, by the end of the week I had done a 180-degree turnaround.
Mercedes C 180 – from R609 000
Mercedes- AMG C63 S – SEDAN – R1 546 600 Mercedes- AMG C63 S – COUPE – R1 609 100
Mercedes- AMG C63 S – CABRIOLET – R1 728 700