Where the transmission struggles to convince is at that middling ground-covering pace, when left to juggle ratios by itself. Even in Sport and Sport+ driving modes it tends to upshift too far by a gear or two, and simply gives itself too much to do to find the perfect ratio for the bend or overtake you’re lining up, making responses to bigger accelerator applications seem just a touch clumsy and slow. That is true, mind you, not only of the C63 S’s gearbox but also just about every other eight, nine or ten-speed modern automatic gearbox you could mention, so we won’t dwell on it.
Affalterbach isn’t shouting too loudly about the suspension revisions it has made to the C63, I suspect for strategic reasons. If it was widely known that the firm had allowed its 503bhp thunder-saloon to go slightly soft in advancing age, perhaps some people wouldn’t buy one. But the truth is, a dose of dynamic realism hasn’t harmed the C63 one jot.
The car wasn’t actually the firmest, sharpest or dartiest of handlers before, and the change has been sufficiently subtly executed that few moving from the old C63 to the new one will even notice it. But the signs are there. You can now use Sport and Sport+ driving modes on the road, allowing for the firmer damping they impose, without any unpalatable compromise on bump absorption or ride composure. I’d say the C63 S has certainly become a better fast road car as a result.
It steers with perfectly judged, intuitive pace and weight, just as the last one did. It doesn’t have Giulia Quadrifoglio-level agility or body control, rolling a touch more heavily when cornering hard than some might like. But does it ever handle sweetly. It stays composed over bumps and grips more than hard enough to take its ambitions as a precision instrument really seriously. But then, with the aids deactivated, it slips so progressively into power-oversteer that’s so wonderfully, addictively controllable and benign that you feel like bathing in it.
This is the kind of oversteer you don’t just ride out, but grab another gear as it develops just to prolong the indulgence. And now, if you want to tap into just a bit of that oversteer but leave a distant electronic safety net in place to help tidy things up when your exuberance gets the better of you, go ahead sir; that’s the difference that new traction control system makes. In its most dialled-down settings ('9’ is off, and I liked ‘7’ and ‘8’ best), it’s a hugely permissive but still reassuring presence.