Mercedes-Benz S-Class VS Mercedes-Benz C63
- Fantastic V8 engine
- Brilliant interior
- Jekyll/Hyde chassis
- Very heavy
- Service costs
- Amazing power
- Addictive sound
- Impressive to drive in most situations
- Price is high
- Still not 100 per cent on the Coupe’s looks
- No applicable ANCAP score
Ever since the middle of the 1990s, I've been captivated by the Mercedes-Benz S Class. It used to be known as Sonderklasse - special class - and teenage me certainly thought it was. The one that caught my attention was the W140. A huge, two-tonne beast when that sort of mass was rare, it was loaded with amazingness and owned the road.
Part of its unique appeal was that that it was properly ugly. When it hove into view it was like a battleship entering Sydney Harbour. And it used almost as much fuel, with the V12 on board.
Over the years, genuine style has invaded the S-Class and today I found myself, for the first time, in an unusually pretty pair of S Classes - the S560 and S63 Coupes. And, astonishingly, it's the first time I've ever driven an S-Class. So with all that baggage I've built up over the years, they had a lot to live up to.
|Engine Type||4.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
If you know the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S, you know it’s a hardcore V8 thumper with little in the way of bashfulness. It’s a brawler. A beast.
Now there’s an even more eye-catching AMG C 63 S Coupe, which we’re testing here. It’s the Aero Edition - a collector’s version of the current-generation C 63 S Coupe with a bit more visual bling that also helps it stick to the road better.
It is a local area special edition, with only 63 examples to be sold across Australia and New Zealand. And if the rumours are true, the next-generation will see the V8 engine in danger of being axed in favour of a hybrid, high-performance four-cylinder version. Say it ain’t so!
Well, if the CarsGuide crystal ball turns out to be right, maybe one of these C 63 S Aero Editions is worth getting in your garage quick-smart. Or is it? Let’s go through the criteria and see how it stacks up.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Both of these vast vehicles are phenomenally comfortable - this is the kind of car that Mercedes does so well, and has done for decades. The S Class is rarely a disappointment but it's difficult to believe that such a big, heavy GT car can also dance the way the S63 does.
The S560 is far more weighted to being a GT - supremely comfortable with that active suspension, a growly, refined V8 and a cabin full of gadgets and comfort. The S63 is altogether more aggressive, to look at and to drive. Lopping the roof off both of them adds weight but, like any cruiser, also puts you out in the sun, the breeze and into your surroundings. Plus, in the case of the S63, you get more exhaust noise.
They're two very different cars and not just because of the engine. After all these years admiring it from afar, the S63 has delivered on my teenage expectations - fast, smooth and utterly mad.
Is the S Class still the car that springs to mind when you think ultimate luxury? Or has another brand taken its place? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Aero Edition is an absolute beast of a car, but it comes at a pretty hefty price. Yes you get a lot of performance, and the fact there are only 63 examples being made for Australia and New Zealand could be enough to get you to sign on the line. For me, though, if I was after a C 63, it’d have to be a wagon. It doesn’t need an Aero pack to look better.
The S Class Coupe is obviously related to the sedan but manages a svelte appearance. Slimmer hipped and with a more Coke-bottle shape, the Coupe - if you squint a bit - has a bit of the classic old pagoda about it. Obviously you can't do pillars that slim anymore, but the glass roof takes away some of the visual weight inside and out.
The cabriolet's roof is nicely integrated and looks good when it's up, which isn't always the case.
They all look long, though. It's obvious to see why the cars all run on 20-inch wheels - anything smaller would look hilarious.
The cabin is a fairly sensible re-imagining of the E-Class. The big twin-screen layout of the dash and multimedia system seems a bit more at home here. The chintzy Burmester speakers in the doors let down an otherwise classy cabin, which steers clear of otiose vulgarity in looks and materials.
I’ve never been the biggest fan of the current C-Class Coupe’s styling. To me, it has always looked a little droopy, a little melted at the back.
I have to say, the Aero Edition has changed my opinion somewhat, as the new graphic elements help lift it up a bit, visually raising its rear up like a stretching cat, tail in the air. I’m still not 100 per cent on it, but to my eye it’s better.
The carbon-fibre trim elements that have been added to the exterior certainly add some menace to the look, too, and I simply can’t help but constantly notice out of the corner of my eye the AMG pressing in the staggered, dished rims. At a glimpse, from a distance, it looks like rim damage, but thankfully it’s not!
The staggered set-up does really add some width and mongrel to the look, as if it needed more, with its open maw lower bumper air dam, and the signature 'Panamericana' grille treatment which looks like an evil character out of a movie. If you know the one I’m talking about, let me know in the comments.
As much as the look matters when it’s parked in your driveway, it’s the cabin that arguably matters more, right? That’s where you spend your time, after all. Check out the interior images to see if you think it lives up to the exterior look.
Well look, if you end up in the back of the S Coupe, it's not a riot of space. Obviously it has back seats (the SL doesn't even squeeze a jump seat into its considerable length) but they're for occasional, if luxurious, use.
The boot is a reasonably decent 400 litres, obviously the cabriolet loses a few litres with the roof folded. Front and rear passengers will both enjoy a pair of cupholders and the whopping long doors will each hold a bottle.
No two-door coupe is going to offer you the space and comfort of a sedan or wagon, that’s just a fact. But that only matters if you plan to actually use the rear seats. If you don’t, then the Coupe version of the C 63 S might be perfect for you.
Even so, I managed to (only just) squeeze myself between the seat and the door opening to slide into the rear row. This won’t be easily achieved by all attempters, especially on the driver’s side.
Let’s just say I probably looked like I was doing something very weird to the driver’s seat as I spider-manned my way in.
The rear space is tight for someone my height (182cm/6’0”) behind their own driving position, with knees hard-up against the seat in front and not much headroom (my noggin’ was brushing the ceiling) or toe space (size 12s don’t fit so well) to speak of.
It’s certainly a selfish car. Or maybe it’d be fine for smaller kids. There are two spaces in the back, both with ISOFIX child seat anchors and top-tether points.
But there is storage in the back - cupholders and storage caddies either side of the seats, though the storage situation improves in the front zone, with bottle holders in the doors, cupholders between the seats, loose item storage under the media screen and a covered centre armrest bin, too.
The front cabin is a special looking place, with carbon-fibre abounding across the dash and nice trim on the doors. The AMG steering wheel is a sight to behold - it’s a flat-bottomed unit with carbon-fibre and Dinamica (that’s Benz talk for microsuede) trim: perfect for sapping sweat as you manhandle the C63 through the bends.
The seats are AMG Performance sports units up front, and the trim used is reserved for this model specifically: Nappa leather with yellow stripes. There are yellow details elsewhere, including on the rear seats, centre console and dash, and it certainly adds some visual excitement.
Media is controlled by a 10.25-inch display and Mercedes-Benz’s touchpad control system, but there is no touchscreen - rendering the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology somewhat tedious.
I’ve always had a gripe with screens that don’t allow touch but feature the tech that’s designed to transfer your phone’s screen to the media unit, and I can tell you the longer you spend twiddling the dial to get where you want to go, the more annoying it becomes.
The Burmester sound system has 13 speakers and is rather good, but I prefer the sound from the standard fit variable sports exhaust. So maybe that quibble with CarPlay isn’t that big a deal.
And if you just want to charge your phone, and there’s a second USB port up front, as well. Note: in non-Aero Edition C 63 models without the carbon-fibre interior pack, you also get Qi wireless phone charging, but it’s deleted from this variant and any model with the carbon pack.
The driver has a 12.3-inch digital info display to show where you are and what the car is up to, and there’s a head-up display as well. Yep, there’s standard sat nav with live traffic updates (and even live fuel price updates) - it’s just a shame the maps still look early 2000s-spec in 2D layout.
Cargo space is okay. The claimed cargo capacity or boot volume is 355 litres (VDA) with the rear seats in place. That’s small for a coupe of this size, and the shape of the boot (with a hump behind the rear seat) isn’t great as things do move around quite a bit.
But, thankfully, Mercedes has included its clever foldable storage box system under the boot floor - it goes where you might usually expect a spare wheel, but there isn’t one in this car. Instead you get Mercedes’ 'Tirefit' repair kit with an electric pump.
Price and features
One thing hasn't changed in nearly 20 years - the S isn't cheap. Available in coupe and cabriolet, the S560 starts at $314,900 for the former and $336,900 for the latter. Step up to the S63 pair and you'll pay from $370,500 for the coupe and $399,900 for the cab. If you're super keen for something spectacular, the twin-turbo V12-powered S65 is available for between $508,900 and $520,500, and features Swarovski crystals in the headlights, for some reason.
As you can imagine, there's quite a bit to cover, so for both cars I'll stick to the edited highlights. The S560s roll on 20-inch alloys, has a 590-watt 13 speaker sound system, digital TV, auto parking, active cruise control, panoramic glass roof, Nappa leather, active seats and power-closing doors.
It also comes standard with a heating pack that not only heats the seats but the steering wheel and centre console. In the cabriolet you also get the 'Airscarf' neck heater.
Both cars also feature's Mercedes' Magic Body Control with curve function. More of that wacky feature later.
The S63 AMG is a step up in power, price and spec. One notable change from the S560 is the loss of 'Magic Body Control', which is replaced with mere air suspension. The 20-inch alloys are 10-spoke forged units, the brakes higher performance composites with red calipers, while an AMG sports exhaust brings the noise.
Naturally, both are swathed in high-quality leather and feature dual-zone climate control, heated and cooled electric seats that adjust in every direction, deep carpets, keyless entry and start, fully digital dashboards and just about every gadget to which you can point your imagination.
Entertainment and sat nav are via Mercedes' 'Comand' system, which is displayed on a massive 12.3-inch slab of glass at the top of the dashboard. The 13-speaker Burmester-branded system is predictably impressive and with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you only have to use the basic software for the radio or various car controls.
Look, I’m not likely to ever be in the position to say that a car that costs $188,600 plus on-road costs is “good value”, but to be honest, if you’re in that position, you’ll be getting plenty of car for your cash.
The Carbon Edition of the C 63 S Coupe adds $17,200 over the standard version of the high-performance two-door, but it adds a bunch of extras to help justify its price. A car like this is always going to be seen by some as a profligate purchase, right? You need to be able to justify spending an extra MG3’s worth of cash on this Edition.
The noticeable exterior bits include an AMG Performance rear spoiler, a model specific front lip, rear diffuser, and side facings for the rear apron air vents. Carbon-fibre is used in the front apron A-wing, the side sill inserts, rear diffuser insert, rear spoiler and the side mirror casings.
There’s more carbon-fibre inside the cabin, which we’ll cover off in the interior section. Other additions over the standard C 63 S Coupe include ceramic composite front brakes (402mm six-piston) and 360mm single-piston rear brakes, and there are “ultra-lightweight” AMG forged 'Matt Black' alloy wheels with 19-inch rims at the front and 20s at the rear.
And in nice news, the car you see here has no optional extras fitted at all. The colour is 'Iridium Silver', one of only two options for this limited run model (the other available hue is Polar White, and both come at no extra cost).
Standard inclusions comprise leather interior trim, heated and electric adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, a 10.25-inch media screen with sat nav and smartphone mirroring, DAB radio, 13-speaker Burmester sound system, 12.3-inch digital driver info display, head-up display (HUD), ambient lighting, and performance items like active dynamic engine mounts, an adaptive AMG performance exhaust, a rear differential lock, and adaptive sports suspension.
Plus there’s a full-spec safety offering which we’ll cover in the section below.
Thinking about what cars compete with this one? There’s the Audi RS 5 Coupe (from $150,900), the Lexus RC F (from $136,636), and the BMW M4 Competition (from $167,829). So the C 63 S - which is already expensive comparatively - looks positively pricey in Aero Edition spec.
Engine & trans
All four coupes and cabriolets ship with Daimler's formidable 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. The S560 scores 345kW/700Nm to drive the rear wheels through Benz's own nine-speed automatic. With all of that available, the S560 will crack the ton in 4.6 seconds and make a wonderful racket on the way.
Moving on to the S63, the same engine delivers a massive 450kW/900Nm. The run from 0-100km/h is dispatched in just 3.5 seconds and if I thought the S560 made a good noise, the S63 with its standard sports exhaust makes a better one. Again, Mercedes' nine-speeder is along for the ride.
Open the shapely bonnet of the C 63 S and you’ll find a hand-assembled horsepower-monster engine with a printed name plaque to prove it.
The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 produces 375kW of power at 6250rpm, and 700Nm of torque from 2000-4500rpm. It runs a standard-fit nine-speed 'Speedshift MCT' (multi-clutch transmission) automatic, and it’s rear-wheel drive. And yes, that means it likes to boogie.
The claimed 0-100km/h time is just 3.9 seconds, and top speed is apparently pegged at 250km/h. Yeesh.
The name on the “Handcrafted by” plaque on this particular engine? Hat tip to you, Julian Rembold. This is quite a piece of work.
The lower-powered 560 drinks 98RON at the rate of 8.5L/100km for the coupe and 9.9L/100km for the heavier cabriolet.
The S63 ups the ante with 9.9L/100km for the coupe and an identical 9.9L/100km for the cab.
Our launch program contained some...er...spirited driving, which would explain the mid to high-teens fuel figures.
High numbers are what AMGs are about. Sadly that’s the case not only for performance outputs but also fuel consumption.
The official combined cycle fuel use claim for the C 63 S Coupe is 10.3 litres per 100 kilometres, and you need to fill it with 98RON premium unleaded fuel, too.
On test? Well, across a mix of different driving - urban, highway, back road and spirited stints - I saw an 'at the pump' return of 12.2L/100km, while the digital readout stated 12.0L/100km.
Given the performance on offer, and how much I took advantage of it during my week with the car, that’s not bad…
Fuel tank capacity is 66 litres. So go easy if you know there won’t be a fuel stop for a while.
Let's start with the S560. That smooth V8 rumble is all you'll ever hear if you just slot into drive and go for a leisurely spin. The nine-speed automatic continues to be a revelation to me - in the GLC63 it's good and here, once again, it's excellent, finding the right gear for the occasion and riding the fat torque curve. Other nine-speed autos are not very good at all.
The test route for the S560 played to the strengths of the car. It had some lovely winding roads, which brought the trick suspension into focus - the Magic Body Control with curve function is hilarious. While the active suspension works hard at all times to ensure the ride is smooth and drama free, the Curve mode (no, really) actually leans the car into corners.
Those of you who remember the video game Wipeout 2097 will be big fans of Curve mode. As you approach a corner, you turn the wheel and then the car leans into the bend. This isn't active damping reading the road, it's the outside suspension lifting the car and the inside lowering it, so the car feels like it's gliding, like a hovercar. It's wild but oddly calming. Mercedes reckons it's great for those who get car sick. As I didn't have my wife on hand to test this theory - she chucks at the first sign of a corner - I couldn't verify this claim. That will have to wait.
The S63 AMG is a completely different proposition. The air suspension is more than up to the job of helping smother the effects of the car's considerable weight, meaning that no matter what you're up to, the car feels reasonably light on its feet. It never feels small, though, commanding the respect of the driver and plenty of space from other road users.
And boy, do you need some space if you kick the S63 into Sport mode. In true AMG style, the electronic reins relax and the big luxury coupe cheerfully kicks off. The tail will wriggle under an unsympathetic right foot, that signature V8 roar, crackle and hiss filling your ears. The S63 is always the harder-feeling car, but it delivers with a more sporting drive than the S560.
Being the generous soul I am, I volunteered to return the S63 to its home for the evening rather than consign it to the back of a truck. On the back roads I took to reach the highway, it was rock solid - fast, predictable and a lot of fun. Once I found the boring straight bits, it turned into a supremely comfortable cruiser, ticking along in ninth at the legal limit (and being Melbourne, it was very much the legal limit), dispatching overtaking with barely a flex of a toe.
The active cruise took the stress of keeping away from the State Revenue Office's clutches while being quiet and utterly pleasant.
Just one word sprang to my mind when it comes to accurately describing the performance on offer from this car. The word is ‘brutal’.
Smash the accelerator and the power and torque on offer is enough to make your eyes feel like they’re not doing the right thing anymore. You get pushed back in your seat with a surge, and your ears are also rewarded with one of the best soundtracks in the automotive world.
The engine builds pace with enormous intent, and the sound that comes from under the bonnet and out the back through the exhausts is addictive.
Yes, there is an active exhaust button which you have to press to make sure that you hear all that noise if you’re running around in 'Comfort' mode, and during my time with the car it was active the whole time.
I had some questions from neighbours over the week that I had this car about whether it was actually nice to live with on a day-to-day basis. And the answer is yes, if you put it in comfort mode it’s surprisingly amenable.
The ride is really well sorted at pace despite having a bit of that trademark low-speed wobble that seems to afflict Mercedes products from A-Class through to the GLE SUV. But it wasn’t bad enough to really bother me, as most of my time was on highways and backroads.
The steering is direct and accurate. The only thing you need to be aware of is that you will lose traction at the rear axle when you put your foot down hard. And for the enthusiast that’s exactly what you want.
I know I want to feel the thing squirm under throttle. It’s a rear-drive V8 coupe, after all. You want to feel like you’re a vein in its bicep muscle; you know, the one you see in a weightlifter’s arms – the one that wiggles around a lot. You want to have that. Right?
On the performance front it is exceptional. Twist the little dial on the wheel to 'Sport' or 'Sport+' (I didn’t sample 'Race' mode as I wasn’t at a racetrack), and everything feels like it’s had a protein shake.
Even so, in that mode it steers brilliantly, there's a nice feel through the wheel, and the ride, while stiff, controls the body brilliantly when you change directions.
The transmission is very good, too. In Comfort mode it can take just a second or two at first to become accustomed to the idea that you want to drive aggressively.
But in Sport mode, or when you select the manual transmission mode using the trigger button on the steering wheel, you will certainly get the most out of the engine. That’s what I did when I was driving it in a ‘spirited’ manner.
If you are just after that high-end Coupe cruiser experience, it’s a relatively quiet car (provided the surface below isn’t the coarsest of coarse-chip bitumen), with enough luxuriousness to make it feel premium as well as sporty. That’s an important thing to consider, especially at this price point.
The S-Class coupe comes loaded with eight airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward and reverse AEB with pedestrian detection, reversing camera, crosswind assist (I know, right?), traffic-sign recognition and reverse cross traffic alert.
The S-Class Coupe does not have an ANCAP or EuroNCAP rating.
There is no applicable ANCAP crash test rating for the Mercedes C-Class Coupe, nor is there one for the C 63 specification. But when it was tested back 2014, the sedan scored five stars - as you’d expect.
It is comprehensively equipped in terms of safety technology, including auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection (from 7.0km/h to 70km/h) and it’s active for cars from 7.0km/h to 250km/h.
Plus there’s lane departure warning and active lane keeping assistance (from 60km/h to 200km/h), blind spot monitoring with 'Active Blind Spot Assist' that will stop you from veering into oncoming traffic, front and rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control (Distronic) with traffic jam assist.
The C 63 also features 'Route Based Speed Adaptation', which can adjust your speed based on where the car thinks you are on the map. Just note - if you’re driving through new tunnels that haven’t been flashed to your car’s nav (as happened to me in Sydney during my testing week) - then you could find the car dramatically braking for surface-level intersections. You can switch the system off, thankfully.
There are nine airbags fitted, and while you mightn’t use the rear seats much there are ISOFIX and top tether points for both positions (yes, only two).
Mercedes offers a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with roadside assist for the duration.
The company also offers both service plans (where you pay up-front as part of the vehicle purchase) and capped-price servicing on the coupes. Servicing over three years is in the order $2500.
Mercedes-Benz is among the minority of luxury brands now offering a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan - most still have three-year cover. So that’s a tick.
And the service intervals are pegged at 12 months/20,000km. Another tick.
Plus you can either pre-pay your service plan in three-year ($3800), four-year ($6000) or five-year ($6550) plans - roll it into the finance package, and it won’t hurt quite as much.
According to Mercedes, the three-year coverage option makes for a $900 discount over pay-as-you-go servicing.
Roadside assistance covers the five-year new car warranty period, too. So Mercedes seemingly takes good care of its customers. But if you have any concerns or questions over reliability, problems, issues or complaints about the C 63, check out our AMG C 63 problems page.