The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupe is a talented and hugely enjoyable all-rounder. It's stripy, too, at least in Edition 1 specification as driven here. It's defined by massive speed, presence and tailpipes that orchestrate the best V8 soundtrack you'll hear outside a drag strip.
In the metal
You're looking at an AMG, more obviously than most thanks to its Edition 1 status, which adds some stripes to the already muscled look. You don't have to have the yellow decals, though, and it truth we'd leave them out, as the AMG C 63 S gets enough attention without needing a great big 'look-at-me' sticker running from the grille, up the bonnet over the roof and to the backside (complemented by others on the side sills). Without those, the uninitiated might pass the C 63 S as just another Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe; assuming, that is, they missed the bulging bonnet, widened wheelarches (filled here with yellow striped, black 20-inch alloy wheels hiding copper-coloured brake callipers), gaping air intakes up front and vents around the back, as well as the quad exhaust system. So, realistically, even someone completely ignorant to cars wouldn't miss that this one is a little bit different to one of its lesser non-AMG brethren.
Fire it up and they'll be left in absolutely no doubt. Any worries we've all been having about turbocharged engines being the death of aural arousal are immediately quelled. AMG's 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine sounds magnificent. It's naughty when you start it, enough to ensure your neighbours will hate you for the fact it'll wake the dead on start-up with its many layered blaring, barking snare. Inside, it's all familiar 'Benz, with the usual AMG twist, so there's deeply bolstered AMG sports seats, AMG specific instrumentation, an AMG steering wheel and a host of buttons for the various drive modes on offer, too. There's space in the back too, as this a genuine four-seater, so long as your passengers aren't too tall, that is, though if you need more practicality you can have the same drivetrain in the saloon or estate as well...
We've not driven anything else recently (with the exception of the AMG GT S and C 63 S Estate) that's had us so smitten. The sound is worth the sticker price alone, but allied to the massive performance it makes for a beguiling car. It's as quick as supercars used to be before they went all 'hyper' and, in the real world at least, more performance than you could ever really need or want. The C 63 S Coupe will reach 100km/h from rest in just 3.9 seconds, and, with the addition of the optional AMG Driver's Package, it'll hit 290km/h (or 'just' 250km/h if you don't tick that particular box). Thanks to the addition of an electronically controlled limited-slip differential on the S version of the C 63 Coupe, the two-door car's a sharper, more controlled machine, offering more sophisticated control of the rear over the ordinary mechanical differential found in the (still ballistic), non-S C 63. Its track is wider, too, aiding stability and turn in response at the front axle.
The result of all that chassis trickery is a more exploitable car, so the C 63 S Coupe can use its power with a bit more finesse than its sometimes uncouth saloon and estate relations. The rear axle is far more controlled, relatively speaking of course, while the steering is sharper and the suspension's sophistication translates into greater composure to the benefit of wheel control. You'll carry more speed everywhere, a bit less bluntly, but the AMG lunacy is still there; tweaking the settings relinquishes the driver aids of their most restrictive modes and allows that rear axle some yaw on demand. It's all very controlled and enjoyable, too, the C 63 S Coupe hilariously good fun even at ordinary speeds, the crackling, fizzing exhaust and the trigger response from the accelerator (assuming you're in Sport+ or Race modes for the drivetrain) make for an engaging, always entertaining drive. The gearbox is best driven via the paddles, even if it works its seven ratios well enough if left alone, but it's more fun to do so yourself, not least as it allows you to really explore the engine's brilliant range, both physically and aurally, and neither are ever disappointing.
Even in less than perfect conditions for a rear-driven 510hp machine, the C 63 S Coupe remains an exploitable car. The brakes are mighty and while there's not much of what you'd call genuine feel at the steering wheel's chunky rim it doesn't take more than a few bends to realise you can lean on the front axle with absolute confidence. The steering is best left in Comfort mode, as other settings do little but add heft without any corresponding increase in sensation. Indeed, if anything it slows down the turn-in response and mutes what information there is.
What you get for your money
This is arguably a sensible alternative to a supercar: there are four useable seats, a respectable boot and, if you avoid the stripes, relatively sober looks. The options list is lengthy, but even as standard the C 63 S has plenty of kit. We'd do without all the optional 'driver aids' that do nothing but distract from the experience, not least as we cannot conceive of a time in this car when you'd want to take the motorway over the backroads, though the head-up display (sadly lacking the rev counter and gear display like you get in a BMW M car) is a must as you'll want a quick reference to your speed.
The Edition 1 is a sensational car from AMG, demonstrating a brand that's very much at the top of its game. The drivetrain is fantastic, the chassis enjoyable and exploitable and it's all wrapped up in a body that you could convince yourself is practical. At least when you compare it to supercars, that is.