Have you ever wanted to be deliberately cruel to a car? I don’t mean push it off a cliff, unless it’s a Nissan Juke; I mean punish it; treat it really, really cruelly and then enjoy looking at its miserable, wretched, grime-streaked carcass? Well I do sometimes, and I certainly did this weekend. I’ve never met a Mercedes-AMG I could really say I liked: Too big, too shouty, too clumsy, heavy and trying too damned hard. And worst of all, many are to be found on the like-list of Mr J Clarkson. And so it was that the cruel, dark side of me bristled and buzzed with sinister anticipation at the prospect of subjecting one to a weekend of miserable, utilitarian miles on salty, soggy motorways as grey with drizzle and mist as the car’s matt finish. This, I decided as I set off to make my way East to West across the country, was going to be pure torture for the machine and I liked to think it deserved it. 500 miles later and, well, it’s got to go back any day and I’m going to miss it.
First up – and they have to be first because they are kind of the first thing you notice - the stripes. They’re yellow. I know. They’re part of the Edition 1 bit of the Mercedes-AMG C63 S Edition 1 Coupe – a name that makes it the car equivalent of that Welsh railway station. There are some, well quite a few if you read the motoring press, who don’t like the stripes or the matching yellow coachlines around the 19” forged wheels. I’m not one of those people. I really like ‘em. They could so easily come across like a pair of comedy socks with a sombre business suit, but don’t. Not to my eyes anyway. You get a feeling sometimes, in a car, a sense that others are looking and admiring. And as the motorway miles vanished beneath us in, depending on surface, a hurricane of tyre noise, if I felt attention was wandering, sticking the exhausts in noisy mode and prodding the accelerator to unleash a dollop of the 503bhp and 516 lb ft of torque soon had heads craning back in my direction. It also had whatever I was moving out to overtake vanishing in my wake pretty damned quickly.
This thing is fast. Like, 0-60 in 3.9 seconds fast and on a road-trip day like today it would’ve been perfectly happy to deliver me straight to prison bearing a ticket with 180mph written on it. The engine has, as is the way of things, had some cubes removed and is now a 4.0-litre V8, garnished with a couple of the inevitable turbos. But it still bellows and rumbles with enough old school muscle car authority to curl the toes of my cowboy boots. I was wearing Converse, but you know what I mean.
The M5, the M6, the M42 and the A14 are not, even between them, going to dish out a feast of snakey curves and open-season straights. There are stretches of average speed cameras long enough to challenge a Roman Road builder’s patience and every layby is a hidey hole for a man in a van with his lunch in a box and a camera at the back window. This then, was not going to be an exploration of the outer most reaches of the car’s performance envelope. This was very much the real world and having looked forward to torturing the Mercedes in it, I found my new companion to be excellent, charming, entertaining company. Yes, those fat-ass tyres will transmit a thunderous roar if asked to tread the wrong type of tarmac and yes the ride, even in comfort setting is a long way north of wafty. But that firmness is supple and you can feel something of the car’s intent and potential a long time before you put it in Sport, Sport Plus or Race mode.
I covered hundreds of miles and I know this makes me sound like a middle-aged man specifying comfortable shoes in a fashionable store, but my god the seats are comfy. The interior looks great too, with yellow stitching picking up the theme from the exterior stripes. Only the awful info screen lets it down - it looks as if it was delivered in a separate box.
The torque from the 4.0-litre V8 denies it the use of the new nine-speed automatic, limiting it to the old seven speed auto and it’s a bit dim-witted. Shifts up the box being especially lazy and lurchy. But it didn’t worry me. For all its improved responses and balance and clever suspension, the V8 noise and lazy shift all contribute to the sense that there’s still a bit of the old school muscle car about it. And I like some of the other faults too: It still ties itself in knots trying to take off on gravel; even the right foot of a ballerina will have it spinning up and spitting stones. Mercedes claim 40.9mpg on the extra urban but the last few notches on the fuel gauge vanish pretty damned quickly. Good, I say. More muscle car vibes to make me grin. It’s not cheap at £76,910 but it felt worth every penny to me.
The 63 in the name used to come from the old engine, which was, confusingly, of 6.2-litre capacity. So it’s really no more confusing now that the engine has been downsized to 4.0-litre. But that shrunken capacity has in no way led to a shrinking character. Actually, it’s added to it. There’s a sense of compactness to the fast Coupe, a sense of there being a lot of dog packed into a small frame; it’s a Staffordshire Bull Terrier not a Rottweiler. And it’s decorated with great yellow stripes. I enjoyed the feel and the heft of it, the size and the dirty noise. It’s brilliant and I‘ll be sad not to be able to think of it sitting in my yard like an attack dog with a yellow collar on.
There’s only one thought that crashes in to disrupt my daydreams of the soon to depart Merc: ‘What about the new Mustang?’. A 5.0-litre V8 coupe that scratches the muscle car itch for half the money …..