The Riot Act
Unless you were involved in the Birkenhead, U.K., police strike of 1919, you’ve never actually been read the Riot Act, at least not in an official capacity. Because the act remained in effect for nearly 260 years and was copied by many British colonies, the colloquialism “read the Riot Act” is still used widely to suggest a serious scolding. Germany was never a British colony, nor did it institute a copycat act, but if it had, the Mercedes-Benz C63 S AMG would likely make liberal use of it.
The Riot Act, ostensibly, was intended to empower local authorities to break up groups of rabble-rousers with force should they fail to disperse after a specific proclamation was made informing them of the invocation of the act. The modern automotive equivalent of such a proclamation would be, quite simply, the C63 revving its angry, snarling, twin-turbo V-8 at the gathered rabble of boosted six-cylinders and an un-boosted V-8 or two. With 503 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque courtesy of its S Model programming, the C63 S is unquestioningly carrying the biggest stick in the room.
More important, the C63 has the means to back it up. Despite skinny, 265-width tires handling all the power out back, the Michelin Pilot Super Sports grab well enough to sling the 3,936-pound car to 60 mph in 4 seconds flat and through the quarter mile in 12.2 seconds with a 119.5-mph trap speed. In the opposite direction, skinnier 245-width front tires work with carbon-ceramic brakes (front only) to handle most of the stopping, which happens from 60 mph in 101 feet.
That kind of performance puts it within spitting distance of the beloved C63 AMG Black Series, a car so good it came in second at our 2012 Best Driver’s Car competition. The Black Series and its wonderful 510-hp, 457-lb-ft, 6.2-liter V-8 hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, ran the quarter in 12.1 seconds at 117.6 mph, and stopped in 99 feet. Though it carried an insignificant weight penalty, the Black Series had the advantage of Dunlop Sport Maxx Race MO near-slick tires size 255 front and 285 rear.
The thing about these modern C63s, though, is they go around corners like never before. The old Black Series was revelatory in its ability to tackle a corner on canyon roads and race tracks alike. It pulled 1.01 g on the skidpad and needed 24.4 seconds to lap our figure eight, pulling 0.84g average in the process. This new car also pulled 1.01 g on the skidpad but clipped three-tenths of a second off the figure-eight lap, doing the deed in 24.1 seconds at 0.86g average. On skinnier tires with more tread and more torque to deal with.
Oh, and this new car is $89,035 USD as-tested. The Black Series, if you could get one, ran a tick under $110,000 USD. And the new car gets substantially better fuel economy (to the tune of 5 mpg combined) if that weren’t enough.
Can you, the driver, tell? You bet. The Black Series was an outlier—no other C63 of the generation, save the almost-but-not-quite-as-good 507 Edition, drove nearly so well. That the new standard C63, which you can buy anywhere and easily order with the S Model enhancements, is so good is a testament to how far the car has come in one generation.
On the road, the new C63 responds better to a curve than you’d ever expect. To wit: Jonny Lieberman easily chased me down with the C63 while I was driving the tires off an M3 (spoiler alert: comparison test coming). Earlier in the day, I’d stayed on his bumper when the positions were reversed. Pressuring an M3 on a twisty road is not something the C63 is generally known for, and yet here we are.
If you want the full experience, though, you do need to pop for the S Model. For that eight grand, you pick up the better brakes, extra power, electronically controlled limited-slip differential, and Race mode. You want them. All of them. Naturally, you want the extra power because why not? And if you’re going to go faster, you’ll want to stop faster. That’s all great, but you also want to go around a corner faster, and that’s where the other two come in. The limited-slip puts the power down come corner exit, and Race mode lets you drive the car with just a thin safety net should you overdo it. Practically, this means a bit of extra throttle at corner exit will give you a delightful 10 to 20 degrees of easily controlled oversteer.
When you’re not goofing off, the C63 is a serious corner carver. The upgraded brakes allow for very late braking with full confidence, and the tight, accurate steering lets you dip into the apex exactly when and where you want to. There was some debate among the staff as to how much feedback the steering was providing, but at least it was there. Likewise, we disagreed about how well the car handled bumps. It’s quite good, but I believe it could be a little more compliant, which would reduce the feeling of being right on the car’s limit when you’re not. I also found it a little too easy to induce understeer in the tightest corners. I’m still not sure why this car doesn’t have wider tires.
There were things we all agreed on, too. The transmission got rave reviews for being nearly as good as Porsche‘s benchmark PDK, always in the right gear and happy to drop a few under hard braking to set you up for the next corner. Like PDK, it obviated the need for the paddles. Conversely, the throttle had us scratching our heads. Driven in anger, it reacted perfectly. Driven softly about town, it suddenly got the dumb. Even in Race mode, it would become immune to input when starting from a stop. More often than not, I’d have to go hard into it just to get the car moving at more than idle speed. Frustrating to say the least.
Quarrelsome throttle aside, the C63 made a strong impression on all of us. Where we were expecting another blunt instrument from AMG, we got a serious all-around performer capable of putting some very solid competition on notice. In fact, it might even be better than that, but you’ll have to wait for that comparison test to find out.
|2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 S|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$89,035|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||4.0L/503-hp/516-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,936 lb (54/46%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||187.0 x 72.4 x 56.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||12.2 sec @ 119.5 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||101 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.01 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.1 sec @ 0.86 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||18/25/20 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||187/135 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.94 lb/mile|
OEM-provided photos of the 2015 Mercedes-AMG C63: