BMW M4 2014 review
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the 2014 BMW M4, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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It looks like an everyday hauler, but underneath lurks a high-performance sports car.
It has a magnetic attraction, even though their conversation is taking another direction.
"Yeah, it's great, but ...," says one. "That's why I've got my name down for one of those new AMG C63s," replies the other. "The Lambo would be useless as a family car. Great, but ..."
He's right. The Aventador is a poster car but it's the practical four-door Benz which is more realistic if you're not single.
It can easily work for a modern family and, at a pinch, will carry five adults for short trips. It also has the class and comfort that arrived with the all-new C-Class sedan.
The C63 is not cheap, from $154,510 as a sedan and $157,010 as a wagon, and it's costly for a mid-sized car even if you're shopping it against a BMW M3 at $139,900 or a Nissan GT-R at $172,000. But it's a real bargain if you compare it to a top-end Porsche 911, or a Ferrari or even the circa-$800,000 Aventador.
The latest C63 S is a as good as it gets in its class, which means the M3 and Audi RS4, and a real pocket rocket. Roll the twin-turbo V8 engine into a station wagon, like The Tick test car, and it gets even better.
There's a lot to like in the new C63
Why is that? Well, how many people expect a plain white C-Class wagon to have Porsche punishing performance, with a 4.1-second sprint to 100km/h?
That's what I like most about the C63. It's a stealthy car that retains the practicality of the Benz compact, yet adds layers of luxury and go-fast gear.
The 2015 C63 now gets a standard "S" pack.
The extra letter in the badging means every C63 S now comes with the extra punch that was previously only available in the "Performance Pack". When more than 80 per cent of buyers ticked the extra-cost option, Mercedes-Benz Australia realised it should make the deal — which includes everything from 375kW and 700Nm to dynamic engine mounts and excellent Burmester 13-speaker sound — the standard package.
So there's a lot to like in the new C63. Even the black-spoked alloy wheels work better for me, after too much time in Benzes that coat their silver wheels in a thick layer of nasty black brake dust.
The all-new body and improved noise suppression that works so well in the basic C200 is familiar and enjoyable and so too is everything from the practical wagon tail to a straightforward, easy to use dash.
I'm still not a fan of the tablet display for the multimedia system, which looks tacked on instead of an integral part of the dash, but I know it's to future-proof the car against bigger screens and more apps in future models.
The C63 package comes with a switchable sports exhaust, a digital TV tuner, a glass sunroof and Nappa leather upholstery.
For me, it's things like the excellent LED headlamps and the heads-up instrument display which really show what AMG can do, not just the power pack.
But, of course, the turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 is a stonker. It's not just the numbers, but the way the power arrives that makes it so good. It can happily trickle to the shops, but once you even tickle the gas it ramps up with raw torque and follows it with top-end V8 shove and aural excitement.
The seven-speed auto is gentle at the base, but if you take manual control it will punch through the paddle shifts.
But — and it's tough to admit this as a keen driver — the car is best if you set the driving mode switch to Sport+ and let the car worry about the right gears and shift timing. It allows you to focus on braking and steering, knowing you will have the right gear — sometimes not the one you think — every time. It downshifts right down to minimum cornering speed without upsetting the back end.
It's an undercover agent licensed to thrill
Of course, the C63 has firm AMG suspension settings. But it's not a bang-crash car and it's quite comfy at freeway speeds, although there is quite a lot of roar from the 19-inch tyres.
It also helps that it has well-shaped, supportive seats, though I find the rim on the leather-wrapped wheel is too fat.
Of course, the fuel economy can be rubbish if you're driving hard. And the car can be disturbingly noisy if you trigger the sports exhaust close to home. But you expect both those things. And a hefty insurance premium.
For me, the C63 has always been about driving a high-performance sports car that can double as a regular family car. The wagon, especially. It's an undercover agent licensed to thrill, and is even better today thanks to the excellence of the basic C-Class package.
|C180||1.6L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$26,990 – 36,800||2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2015 C180 Pricing and Specs|
|C63 AMG||6.2L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$90,090 – 103,510||2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2015 C63 AMG Pricing and Specs|
|C63 AMG Edition 507||6.2L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$78,490 – 99,999||2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2015 C63 AMG Edition 507 Pricing and Specs|
|C180 Avantgarde||1.6L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$30,360 – 36,630||2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2015 C180 Avantgarde Pricing and Specs|