Many years ago, before SUVs were all the rage (if you can think that far back) we ‘older’ automotive folk had to transport our bigger families and associated luggage around in vehicles called ‘Estates’ or station wagons as they’re known in certain parts of the world.
In many ways, these vehicles were the lovechild of cars and vans. From the front, they were very ‘car-like’ sharing the same faces and often, engines with their saloon or hatchback counterparts, yet they boasted ample space for passengers, luggage or weekend DIY projects, in their less than creative looking rears. They handled better than the early SUVs and with their lower boot lips, were certainly easier to load.
To many carmakers, ‘the Estate’ has gone the way of the dinosaur, becoming a long-forgotten part of their vehicle range, but not when it comes to Mercedes-Benz. Oh no, not only has the luxury German marque kept this style of vehicle going, but they’ve also given it to their AMG department to play with - and the C63 S Estate is what they came up with.
In keeping with Estate tradition, the AMG C63 S has car-like appeal. From its masculine nose complete with the redesigned AMG slat grille to its ‘Multibeam’ LED headlights that are bold and bright yet smart enough not to blind oncoming vehicles. It has huge lower air vents and a lower spoiler that help the spacious sportscar gulp down the oncoming air while assisting in directing it down the vehicle’s sculpted profile or over its sharp-lined bonnet.
Rather than adopting the usual van-like profile, the AMG C63 S turns its entended length into a feature, by adding AMG 19-inch cross-spoke alloys with red brake callipers, strong belt and shoulder lines, AMG side skirts, privacy glass and a sloping roofline with spoiler. While the rear gets LED lighting and quad exhaust tips that are attached to the very loud AMG performance exhaust - that I’ll get to soon.
The interior is all Nappa leather with chrome and black as far as the eye can see (quite literally). My particular model came with AMG performance seats (think sports car bucket seat hold but lavished in premium leather). The sports wheel is as up to date as can be with Alcantara at 3 & 9 and drive mode dials and infotainment and instrument cluster thumb controls. The technology itself included voice activation and has virtually every app and connection available just falling short of having the new MBUX included, but I didn’t once feel disappointed, the drive itself more than made up for any ‘missing’ vehicle smarts.
And what about that drive? Under the bonnet is the highly impressive Mercedes-AMG 4L Bi-turbo V8. It’s a complete powerhouse that continues to give, the more you push that accelerator the louder it (and you) begin to scream. 375kW and 700Nm all strapped to a 9-speed MCT AMG speedshift transmission that (in theory) will deliver a 0-100km/h time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed that will land you in jail several times over. Admittedly, it has a little trouble sending all those horses to the rear wheel without burning rubber but it didn’t stop me trying to get to the reported time.
The ride itself, even in Comfort, is firm. On some of NZ’s more open-pored road surfaces, you can hear and feel the ground below so I obviously spent the majority of my time embracing its racing pedigree by staying in Sport or Sport + with the exhaust baffles open and having the V8 singing (I’m sure the neighbours were delighted).
The C63 S Estate also comes with a Race setting for track use that I may have dipped into, purely for research purposes, of course. Along with the performance benefits, it gives you access to ‘track pages’ on the infotainment screen (lap timer, G-force etc) and also lets you adjust traction bias to the rear wheels (something I only found out about upon returning the car - in one piece).
When not pestering the neighbourhood, friends at the racetrack (just visiting) or a man in a white van (inside joke), I switched modes and let the wagon assume general ‘Estate’ duties, it’s something this vehicle does very well. My small but often needy family were transported around in upmarket luxury, with Burmester sounds, IWC Clocks and space enough for everyone to not feel claustrophobic. The groceries looked less than usual, lost in that vast luggage area in the rear and the Estate is a versatile enough style to not look out of place (or too snobby) at the boy’s football practice.
So, should you find yourself needing space, desiring a powerful sports car and yet looking to buck the performance SUV trend or fashion, well my friends, has Mercedes-AMG got a car for you.