En route to the Bilster Berg private track, I found myself thinking that this effortless V8-engined device reminds you of a super-powerful V8 speedboat, easing down the river on a light throttle, requiring only a quick hoof on the accelerator to unleash enough acceleration to turn the still-life scenery into a blur of fast-forward motion.
It helps enormously that AMG cars these days have the braking systems to cope with any amount of power that their engine department can deliver. Even better, though, is the way the new transmission reacts.
The use of nine ratios (previously there were seven) in the new AMG Speedshift MCT 9G transmission means that here is now an optimum ratio for just about any occasion. The new transmission enables lightning quick up and downshifts. And, testimony to all the computer-optimising carried out by AMG engineers, the new transmission adapts to your driving style. It never second guesses itself (or the driver’s intentions).
This was made even more apparent when we drove on the track. It is a daunting venue for the uninitiated, with huge elevation changes and zero run-off area. AMG thus employed race drivers with DTM and GT sports car category experience to guide journalists around the track.
Once these pro drivers were assured that we had a basic handle on the lines, they exhorted us to try the Race mode on the steering-wheel-mounted dial, which removes most of the traction control, sharpens up all the throttle responses and, in fact, introduces a tad of oversteer on entry to some corners, and on exiting, if you lay on a bit too much power.
For technically-minded readers, it should be noted that this new gearbox is not a dual clutch manual gearbox, as used by many other manufacturers. Rather it is a traditional automatic gearbox, but instead of a torque converter, it uses a wet clutch pack, hence the name MCT, which stands for Multi Clutch Transmission. Some motorcycles use a similar wet clutch system. It offers more reactive responses to even the smallest of load changes fed through from the engine.
When the manual mode is selected, this device can up-change and downshift in just 100 milliseconds, using the steering wheel-mounted paddles. But even if you leave the device in full automatic mode, as I did when learning the difficult Bilster Berg track, the shifts are appropriate for your speed.
AMG has also gone to great lengths to make this halo model an appealing track-day device. There are six different driving programmes from low-power slippery mode to Race. It was great to be able to select Race merely at the twist of a knob mounted on the right-hand spoke of the steering wheel.
There is also an AMG Dynamics function which precisely manages the amount of torque directed to the rear axle. The torque vectoring can be set in modes from Basic to Master, which offers a degree of oversteer. There is also a race timer to display lap times on the 12.3-inch screen located ahead of the driver, and if a Track Pace option is ordered, you can download additional data after doing a hot lap, such as sector times, and you can also overlay your lap on a more ideal lap to see where improvements can be made to your lap speed.
The S sedan models we used on the launch register 0-100 km/h in 4.0 seconds, with a top speed of 290km/h. An even faster time of 3.9 seconds for 0-100 is quoted for the coupe, while the cabriolet S is a tad slower (4.1 seconds and 280km/h). The sexy estate car was also on offer at the launch, but will not be available in SA.
After an afternoon of hardcore fun at Bilster Berg, the remainder of our international launch was taken up with cruising on beautiful undulating tree-lined roads in the Paderborn Lippstadt area.
It is here that the genius of the C63 really shines through. You don’t have to go flat out to enjoy this car, because the emotion of that engine and drivetrain is in perfectly articulated communication at all times. For me, this is the real breakthrough that AMG has made in recent times, building a thoroughly civilised sedan (or coupe or cabriolet) that is pleasing whether you are doing 90km/h or 290km/h.
Pricing in SA for the new C63 and C63 S models was not available at the time of going to print. We can confirm the sedan, coupe and cabriolet models will all be offered here for sale in the last quarter of 2018.
This article was originally published by The Business Day.