Now I can see the entrance, I’m beginning to question the wisdom of choosing a decaying 1960s multi-storey carpark for our shoot location. Damn, it’s tight, which is less than ideal when you’re in a very wide Mercedes-AMG C63 coupe. Taking great care not to take a chunk out of any of the spangly 19-inch front/20-inch rear wheels, I’m in, and making my way to the roof.
Windows down, Sport+ mode engaged to open the exhaust flaps, and the air is full with horsepower. God, this thing makes a good noise at low revs, like a sort of satanic gargle. Gingerly navigating onto the first ramp that’ll take me up to where I’ll be meeting the photographer, I can’t resist a little stab of the throttle. That gargle makes way for an angry bark, the sound waves smashing off various concrete surfaces and back to my ears. I’m a little late, but at least the snapper will know I’m on my way up by now.
I finally make it to the roof after a brief moment of confusion thanks to this car park’s baffling layout. Even though I’ve traded the enclosed space of the lower floors for the unrestricted night’s sky, the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 up front is still making one hell of a racket.
The car’s neatly positioned and ready for the first round of photos, with our man’s various bits of lighting gear emphasising the C63s curvaceous aesthetic. I must confess I’m not a fan of the standard C-Class coupe: its fat C-pillars are too far back for my liking, giving an awkward and chubby rear three-quarter that dominates its physique.
The AMG’d-up model pretty much sorts that out though, balancing proceedings with aggressive wheel arch bulges and those aforementioned enormo-wheels that - praise be - I’ve got up here in one piece. The C63 saloon is barely distinguishable from an AMG Line C-Class diesel, but with a considerably wider track on the coupe, there’s no questioning the hand of Affalterbach on this machine. If you want to shout about how fast your car is, the coupe is the one you want.
And fast the C63 coupe certainly is. As I have the keys to the £68,070 S version, we’re looking at 503bhp, 516lb ft of torque, and a 0-62mph time of just 3.9 seconds.
At the moment though, the C63 sits silently. Waiting for its next meal. A meal consisting of rear tyres probably, or the nearest BMW M4. There’s only so long we can sit here and admire before it’s time to take the C63 hunting. The sun is coming up, so now feels like the perfect time.
Carefully navigating back down the concrete alloy wheel torture chamber, the windows are once again down and the car turned up to Sport+ mode to give my ears the biggest dose of devilish V8 gargling possible. This is what it must feel like taking the pit exit at Yas Marina circuit. Only less glamorous. Obviously.
A quick fumble for the weird plastic coin thing I received on entry, and the barrier’s up, releasing the C63 into the wild. Well, almost: there are a few stretches of dual carriageway and a handful of roundabouts to dispatch before I’m in open countryside.
At last I see the sign I’ve been waiting for: that black on white circle that means it’s national speed limit from here on. Windows still very much down despite the chill in the air, I go full throttle and charge through several cogs on the seven-speed automatic gearbox with at a ferocious rate.
At 2500rpm there’s a noticeable pickup from the 4.0-litre bi-turbo, hot V engine, giving a taste of what’s to come. Hit 3000rpm, at the C63’s savage pace really hits home: a few seconds of wide open throttle are all you can get away with, before you find yourself having to back off.
I have no complaints whatsoever in the firepower department, but what about noise? That’s a tricky one, as this is probably the only V8 I’ve experienced that actually sounds better at low revs. As soon as that angry barking is out of the way, it’s replaced with a harsh industrial resonance. You want a V8 to roar like a pissed-off bear, not buzz like a giant bumble bee stuck in a shipping container.
As the fast sweepers make way for tighter bends, I’m finding this 503bhp bruiser grips a hell of a lot harder than I’d been expecting. Perhaps rear tyres aren’t on the menu today after all.
But this shouldn’t really be a surprise, as there’s a lot of clever stuff going on under the skin. As well as the wider track, there’s a set of electronically adjustable dampers. We have an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential at the rear. Oh, and there are even ‘dynamic engine mounts’ - instead of the usual squishy rubber bits, these stiffen up when you’re driving fast.
The steering is typically AMG, and by that I mean it’s very quick and a little too light. The feedback from the road is good, though, and I’m appreciating the that effortless speed, particularly know I’ve switched to Race Mode.
I like Race mode. Yes, this is rural Hertfordshire and not Silverstone, but with the Race setting dropping the traction control down to its least intrusive state without being in switched-off-brown-pants-mode, the C63 indulges your inner hooligan while still giving something vaguely akin to a safety net. Race Mode is also something the peasants who buy the non-S C63 don’t get.
A nicely sighted, tight 90-degree left hander gives the C63 S Coupe a chance to swing its arse out. We’re not talking balls to the wall, opposite lock and tyre smoking oversteer, just a gentle slide revealing just how well sorted and balanced the chassis underneath is. Make no mistake, AMGs these days have no trouble going toe-to-toe with BMW’s M Division products in the dynamics stakes.
Where the Mercedes does have a chink in its armour though, is the gearbox. BMW’s M4 has a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, whereas the seven-speeder in the AMG is a conventional automatic. There’s not a massive amount in it on the upshifts, but as is usually the case when comparing with a DCT, the C63’s auto ‘box just isn’t as on the ball on the downshifts.
"I feel the vast swathes of hot air spewing from the C63's swollen arches. The engine and brakes have received a damn good workout this morning"
It’s a small complaint though, and other than the ride being a tad brittle and the infotainment system not being quite as slick as the equivalent units in BMWs and Audis, I struggling to think of much I don’t like about this car.
Few cars manage to exhibit such sheer brutality in such an approachable and unintimidating way. I’d have it over a BMW M4 or Lexus GS F in a heartbeat, and unless the next Audi RS5 comes with a free tropical island, I doubt it’d tempt me away either.
The sun’s now fully awake, and thanks to an excessively powerful V8 married to a playful yet sophisticated chassis, so am I. As I pull up to grab what I feel is a well deserved breakfast, I exit the Mercedes and feel the vast swathes of hot air spewing from its swollen arches. The engine and brakes have received a damn good workout this morning.
It’s been a successful photoshoot and dawn raid, but I’m not ending the day’s driving yet - no way. A quick refuel for both me and the car, and it’ll be time to head out ‘hunting’ once again.