Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate Quick Review
Critic’s Notebook takeaway: This 503-horsepower, twin-turbo wagon will shred tires and scare the children. And Americans can’t buy it.
We're glad to celebrate our independence from Britain every July 4th, because America is the best damn nation on the planet, and we kick ass in every way. But while we at The Drive have a ton of national pride, we're taking this week to give a begrudging nod to some of the better automotive efforts from the United Kingdom. (Don't worry. We'll still be covering all the roaring Camaros, Mustangs, bald eagles and Budweiser we can.)
Let’s begin by acknowledging that Mercedes-Benz is indeed a German manufacturer, but when launching their latest super coupe, the mean, green Mercedes-AMG GT R, the festivities took place in Weybridge, England, home to the Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands. The following day, attending journalists were given their pick of the parking lot to drive to Goodwood Festival of Speed. A host of tri-star treats awaited, including the GT S, G63, C63 S, S 63 and SL 65, though the coveted fobs belonged to the foreign crop, marques unavailable on U.S. soil.
Of the select right-hand drives up for grabs, the A45 AMG, a 381-horsepower hot hatch, and the C63 S Estate were the most appealing. The wagon felt particularly British. Ample space for your pack of hunting dogs in the boot, enough headroom to doff your newsboy hat at passersby, and those delightful twin-turbos to help you pop ‘round to the pub in a mighty hurry.
The dual puffers are affixed to the same prodigious 4.0-liter V8 block that’s found beneath the phallic bonnet of the AMG GT. It’s tuned to produce the same 503 horsepower, though the C63 S Estate gets little more twist, 516 lb-ft as compared to the base 479. Helpful when you’re trying to get 4,000 pounds of metal hauling from a standstill to 60 miles an hour in a mere 4.1 seconds. While it’s a slight stretch to call this Estate a sleeper (or in British slang, a Q-car), its impressive numbers aren't readily apparent by its unassuming exterior. But make no mistake, the C63 S Estate is a missile.
There are a number of settings for the engine, suspension and transmission setup, but the only one that matters is “RACE.” Now, should you declare this supreme dynamic option on quiet Surrey country roads as "overkill," particularly with the slew of roundabouts along your route, I’m here to say you're wrong. How else will the bland Peugeots, Citroens and other subcompacts know to yield unless you come in hot, your exhaust crackling louder than a bunch of blunderbusses? Out of the way, lads. I’m motoring here.
The wagon becomes an elongated streak on the A3 highway, snorting through the shifts as the speedo climbs so high, the lane dashes solidify. While speed can sometimes be a subjective sensation, the C63 S Estate does feel fast and powerful, yet it never feels overwhelming. It’s calm and composed from the driver’s seat, as refined as afternoon tea and finger sandwiches.
Eating up the highway at supreme speed is enjoyable, but not as much as carving up some tree-lined esses. The sharp steering and firm chassis make you forget there’s many feet of vehicle behind you. While it doesn’t feel as compact as, say, the AMG GT, it gives few hints as to its true largess.
Nearing Goodwood, we encountered such thick traffic, it took an hour to crawl half a mile. A perfect opportunity to utilize some of the driver aids to turn the wagon into an autonomous chauffeur. Engage the Distronic Plus Adaptive Cruise Control, and set it to very high number, while reducing the distance gap and the car will automatically plod along then brake, to a full stop, when necessary. Couple that with the Steering Assist function, and lane departure system, and the Estate will handle everything, save starting up from a dead stop. A quick stab of the throttle and the car would inch along, keeping perfectly in the middle of our narrow lane. If only every hour spent stuck in a traffic jam were as easy.
I get why the C63 S Estate isn’t offered Stateside. We are instead afforded its steroided big brother, the E63 S Estate – a six-figure, 5.5-liter, 577 horsepower, 590 lb-ft, bi-turbo beast – and our market for track-capable wagons is likely not enough to support the two marques. Still, a (marginally) more affordable and more accessible super wagon would be something I’d splurge for. It’s jolly good fun.
2016 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate
PRICE (as tested): $90,995
POWERTRAIN: 4.0-liter V8 twin-turbo; 503 hp, 516 lb-ft torque; seven-speed automatic transmission
MPG: 33, combined
Zero to pub time: Maddeningly quick