Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance

Driving the new C63 on track is a very different experience from the one that the old car traded on so squarely and evocatively. When you’re using Race driving mode, Mercedes-AMG’s Track Precision lap telemetry app logs your position and tells you, via brightly flashing ‘BOOST’ graphics that appear on the car’s digital instrument screen, where best to deploy the better part of the electric motor’s power.

It’s the kickdown switch right at the bottom of the accelerator pedal travel that you use to do this, as if it were some Formula 1-grade ‘push to pass’ KERS deployment button. Thusly hooning around, pretending you’re George Russell on a qualifying lap, is certainly fun – and the point is, if you follow the instructions, the C63 won’t run out of battery power and should continue to do it almost indefinitely. 

Soon enough, though, you’ll want to know what else your Mercedes super-hybrid has to offer. How much old-school hot-rod charm and dynamic entertainment value have AMG’s engineers remembered to include – there to be savoured wherever and whenever you happen to want to tap into it?

Honestly, and compared with AMG’s long-standing measure in particular, there isn’t very much – although, when the electric motor’s fully boosting, this is certainly a fast car. Use one of the drive modes other than Race (there are eight in all, counting the Electric and Battery Hold modes associated with the PHEV tech, and not counting Drift mode) and, for the most part, you do get full boost from that electric motor without pushing past the throttle kickdown switch. Lock in a higher gear ratio using the paddles for the nine-speed ’box and the torque that floods in at middling engine revs makes the car feel effortlessly, instantly brisk.

As those revs rise, though, there’s no mistaking what you’re working with. The four-pot just doesn’t rev with the freedom that a bigger multi-cylinder engine would. The car doesn’t stonk on from 5000rpm with quite the ferocity you somehow expect of it, however unreasonably. And, on track at least, it’s a little too easy to run into the car’s rev limiter after a downshift, because the high-rpm power delivery we’ve got used to in a C63 just isn’t there.

Neither is the enticing audible allure of a proper multi-cylinder performance engine, needless to say. The C63’s new four-pot turbo sounds ‘all right’ – but it certainly doesn’t sound like very nearly £100,000, which is what this car costs, even before you’ve lavished any options on it.

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