Straight-line speed is hardly in short supply for this AMG, although for decades the brand’s road cars have lacked the same level of turn-in precision and cornering composure offered by rivals from BMW M and, in some cases, Audi’s quattro GmbH.

Any deficit is far smaller than it once was, and perhaps even nonexistent as far as steering feel and chassis balance are concerned. Make no mistake: the reputation of the C63 S trades on its distended wheel arches and the promise of a pulverising V8, but this is, in fact, a surprisingly intuitive, predictable and often delicate car to drive quickly.

Richard Lane

Road tester
Disable the ESP then keep the new nine-stage traction-control system somewhere between six and eight. No, this still isn’t quite the 500bhp Subaru BRZ you’ve been dreaming of, but it’s pretty damn close

Grip and poise dominate the initial exchanges and, aided by its dynamic engine mounts, the C63 S offers perhaps the most clinical change of direction of any AMG model thus far, AMG GT notwithstanding. Driven calculatedly, it’ll cover ground with the sort of spellbinding pace and composure that has one checking the speedometer every few seconds. The steering is particularly communicative by the standards of the class, although still not quite as linear in its action as we’d like.

But there’s another side to this car beyond raw pace. On most British roads, our advice would be to set the dampers to Comfort, or possibly Sport, and flick the new torque-vectoring AMG Dynamics programme into its most aggressive setting, Master. Even with the ESP switched off and the nine-stage traction control skewed towards leniency, the C63 S rarely comes across as anything other than a car that wants to entertain its driver rather than scare them.

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Taken up a notch, its electronic differential further bolsters the silky rear-driven balance, and tight but newly fluid vertical control sets the stage for you to tease and experiment with the tail. This is a wickedly fast and playful car that underpins its ability with a wellspring of confidence at all stages of a corner, which is a trick the outgoing BMW M4 never quite managed.

A high-powered AMG coupé of old might have fallen to pieces against the stopwatch, but while the automatic gearbox in the C63 S remains a touch ponderous for circuit driving, the car impresses overall. Mercedes’ carbon-ceramic brakes resist wilting lap after lap and inspire confidence with their consistency and power. Michelin’s road-biased Pilot Super Sport tyres also bite keenly, although they were past their best after five or six laps.

The aggressive electronic diff helps create massive traction – so much so that short of violently prodding the throttle, good mid-corner balance eventually gives way to numbing understeer. The system is also hugely effective though slow, tight corners, allowing for slingshot acceleration in the dry.

And while the car’s raised centre of gravity is detectable compared with sports cars such as the Porsche 911, body movements are generally neatly controlled, resulting in a very competitive lap time.

COMFORT AND ISOLATION

Historically, luxury and refinement have always been pivotal, if somewhat ancillary, elements of AMG experience. Today’s C63 S might not tout such liberal levels of wooden trim, or such pillowy suspension, but owners will expect their car to make a neat stand-in for out-and-out GT duties in the event of longer, possibly continental drives.

It’s an area in which AMG has made subtle improvements for this facelifted model, even if the W205 C-Class AMG remains a fundamentally stiff car. Long-range comfort is more than acceptable, and although the physical pitter-patter of rougher surfaces is largely inescapable, in Comfort mode it reduces to a reasonable level thanks to the inherent ‘togetherness’ this chassis conjures at speed.

In fact, speed generally improves the ride quality, and the suspension’s ability to gently but confidently absorb longer-wave inputs without surrendering to float elicits its own brand of performance-oriented comfort. Town driving and low-speed manoeuvring can send pronounced shocks through the struts, though you’d expect as much in any car of this type, and those who routinely struggle to exceed second gear should question their motivations for buying a C63 S at all.

However, massive contact patches at each corner make for considerable tyre roar, which has an attritional effect on longer journeys. You might argue this comes with the territory, but at a steady 70mph the newer Audi RS4 tripped our testing microphones a full five decibels quieter than the Mercedes, which goes to show standards for this type of car have improved.

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