Engaging Race Start mode on a Mercedes C 63 AMG Black Series and producing a perfect standing start isn’t like flicking a switch. For one thing, that’s because you turn a knob – clockwise, as it happens – and then you stand on the brake pedal, flick the right-hand shift paddle, flatten the accelerator and pause to ready yourself before lifting your left foot. But it’s also because it takes a few runs to get heat into the car’s Dunlop ‘Race’ tyres, and for the traction control system to adjust to the grip it encounters.
AMG’s Performance Media system, with its live 0-60mph data mode, made it possible to watch as, run after run, the C 63 got quicker. On run one – according to the onboard data system – the car launched to 60mph in 4.3sec; on run four it did 3.9sec. Our data logger recorded a 4.0sec two-way average for the car – exceptional speed for something weighing almost 1.8 tonnes. By 100mph, the Merc had dropped off 911 GT3 RS pace – if only slightly – but had also proved itself a true performance heavyweight.
AMG’s latest 5.5-litre biturbo V8 would probably close the accelerative gap to the Porsche thanks to its enormous torque, but it isn’t the equal of the C 63’s atmospheric V8 in any other meaningful way. Not on aural character, throttle response or even flexibility, really. On track, the freedom to rev beyond 7000rpm can be every bit as advantageous as 550lb ft of unexpurgated wallop, and unerring precision in the relationship between the accelerator’s position and power at the rear wheels is not to be sniffed at, either. The Black Series provides both.
Even more amazing is how well mannered and easy-going the car can be on the road. Here, the wet clutch in the transmission does an uncanny impression of a torque converter, and that otherwise bellowing V8 quietens its performance considerably. There’s still a bit of tyre roar to contend with, but not enough to put much of a dent in what are incredible touring manners, which make most cars at this performance level seem like stripped-out ‘tin-top’ racers.