With a sleeper exterior that doesn’t give you much hint of the monstrosity it offers, this is probably the ‘it car’ that can do a lot
Photos by Azfar Hashim
This C63 S and me didn’t have a good start with each other. And I’ll be prickly honest as to why: Firstly, I didn’t have any sort of expectation with the car; the last time around when I picked up BMW’s M3, I had tonnes and tonnes of expectation which were all based on the pleasant experience the E90 predecessor gave me. So when it felt incomplete after hours of driving, I sobbed. In a nutshell, 65 percent of me liked the car but the other 30 percent still was on the fence while the last 5 percent just can’t seem to agree with the end result. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a good sports sedan; just personally it felt like, in John Mayer’s words, something’s missing.
Probably it’s due to the fact that a naturally-aspirated 4.4-litre V8 was replaced by a force-fed 3.0-litre V6; that alone robbed some of the character — less hunky sound from the bonnet, to be specific. And it’s the same here with the C63 S; previously a massive out-of-this-world, naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8 under the bonnet, this one gets a downsized 4.0-litre V8 with biturbo unit instead.
I unlocked the car, opened the bonnet, went ‘tsk… tsk’, closed the bonnet and that’s that.
Spot the iwc schaffhausen clock
Surprisingly however, getting a perfect driving position was — as corny as this may sound — easy as A, B, C. In the base C-Class, the driving position was merely ok; in the M3, I find the backrest not so comfortable. Here, the sport seat welcomes and hugs you (just short of giving you a kiss) supportively, the steering wheel perfectly sized, you buckle the red seat belt and suddenly you’re as one with the car. Starting it was an event itself: Push the engine start/stop button, watch the tachometer come alive and hear the exhaust burble away. Still, I restrained myself from getting overly positive about the car and drove out of Daimler South East Asia’s office in Gateway — no, I didn’t have to bring my passport along — with the lightest right foot this car probably has ever seen.
It was less than a kilometre away when I "suffered" a teenie-weenie wrath of the C 63 S. In my bid to beat the blinking right turn arrow, the accelerator was given extra pressure to, well, add more speed. Midway however and unexpectedly, the rear decided to go much wider than the front: Of course, this gave those waiting at the nearby bus stop a visual treat but from behind the wheel, my bean bags were up my throat and I broke into cold sweat. Silly me had left the car in Race mode you see, unknowingly; hard lesson learnt here is to always ensure you’re aware what mode you’re driving in, especially a press test car, as you wouldn’t know what the previous fella who drove it was up to.
Funnily though once I’ve calmed down, I realised how the C 63 S has such a bloody playful character. Yes it oversteered unexpectedly, something the M3 did in a far more courteous manner, but you don’t need Hakkinen-like reflexes to correct the car. Ease off the throttle a little, go easy on the counter-steering and the C63 S sorts out. That said it could’ve been much different if the traction control was totally shut off, but that needs a bigger space for me to tell you.
For the rest of my time with the car, I noticed how gentlemanly it behaves in Comfort mode along the expressway. If, say, your office is in the CBD and you have to head all the way to Tuas for a meeting, this car does make things more relaxed for you; so relaxed you could mentally prepare yourself along the way. Road irregularities are ironed out and despite running on performance biased, low-profiled 245/35 R-19 front and 265/35 R-19 rear Pirelli P Zero rubbers, it still delivers comfort in a similar fashion an E-Class would. On top of that, the cabin is well dampened against road and wind noise.
Say if the meeting made you come out all frustrated, Sport+ and a quick blast down the twisty bits of Lim Chu Kang should be able to release some of those angst. The steering is full of life and responsiveness, the paddle-shifter adding more joy to the drive as you toggle between gears 2, 3, 4 (out of 7), you literally are attacking one corner to the other without grimace, even as it gets tighter. The exhaust note makes it all the more joyful, engine screams melodiously towards the redline (braaaAAAAPPPP), outward vision is overall good and the traction control keeps everything tight unlike in Race mode where the rear is just waiting to throw itself out…
All the action aside, the C63 S does offer itself as a useful daily tool still. Besides the 503 bhp and 700 Nm available, you get useful space for two and a half adults at the back, 355-litre bootspace is big enough to be your second store room (M3 offers more at 430-litre though), a standard sunroof and last but not least, premium Burmester sound system included.
How clouds are formed
Unlike the M3, this C 63 S returned a very high level of satisfaction; Yes, despite frightening me. It somehow feels more complete - is well sorted, refined and best of all, look brilliantly unsuspecting. If the M3 were for boys in t-shirt, jeans and sneakers with messy hair, this Mercedes would be for boys who prefer shirt and pants wearing expensive loafers with combed hair. And if you’re beyond 30, the average age for men buying cars like these, how else would you like it?
For me it has to be the latter. 100 percent.
Choose your transmission mapping, suspension hardness and what mode you want the engine to be in; and whether you're gutsy enough to switch off the traction control
In 'Individual', you can personalise your choices
De-badge everything and you could fool anyone into thinking this 'is just a regular C-Class'