THE LAST DANCE
MOTOR Magazine Australia|October 2021
WE COUNT DOWN THE END OF THE V8 IN THE MERCEDES-AMG C63 WITH ONE FINAL BLAST TO FAREWELL THE BENT-EIGHT
SCOTT NEWMAN

THE ELDERLY WOMAN looks up with a scowl, unimpressed with the disturbance to her sweeping. I can’t blame her; the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 in this C63 AMG that’s disturbed her reverie doesn’t make a particularly friendly noise. Even at low rpm it emits a deep, guttural growl that reverberates your innards.

Her days ahead aren’t about to become any more peaceful. It’s February 2015 and early days for the international launch program of the new-generation C63. Based out of the stunning Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, better known as Portimão, in southern Portugal, the road loop winds its way through the surrounding hills, navigating numerous tiny towns unaccustomed to thundering V8s.

There is plenty to talk about with the all-new version of Merc’s mid-size muscle car but it’s the engine that dominates conversation, and with good reason. AMG has traditionally never found a horsepower it didn’t like and the new C63 S combines the best of both its rivals – the eight cylinders of the B8 RS4 and the twin-turbocharging of the F80 M3 – to develop a whopping 375kW and 700Nm. For reference, the Audi manages 331kW/430Nm and the BMW 317kW/550Nm.

It’s a high-tech unit, with sprayed-on, diamond-polished Nanoslide cylinder linings, piezo fuel injectors and turbos mounted inside the vee of the engine to help packaging and improve response. Later, I ask AMG’s then-powertrain boss, Christian Enderle, what aspect of this mega motor he’s most proud of: perhaps the throttle response or the monstrous torque? Somewhat disappointingly, he replies “The fuel consumption; I think the combination of 8.6L/100km with 375kW is a world record.”

That may be so, but fast forward six or so years and the C63 S I’m currently driving certainly isn’t averaging anywhere near that. I suspect no W205 C63 S outside of a laboratory ever has. At Performance Car of the Year 2015 the C63 S – an event at which it came second, beaten only by the 991 GT3 – held the dubious honour of being the car that was furthest from its claimed fuel consumption during the test, drinking more than 20L/100km throughout. It’s a fairly typical thirst.

Despite his team’s hard work in minimising the official number, I suspect Christian is quite proud of this: it means drivers are frequently exercising both the far reaches of both the tachometer and the throttle pedal travel. You simply can’t avoid doing so as the reward is too addictive. Even in its most sensible mode the V8 sounds suitably angry, but flick the switch to Sport+ or Race and the note hardens as the exhaust flaps open.

At idle it gurgles away with the rhythmic consistency of a jackhammer – dugga-dugga-dugga – but part of the joy of this engine is the breadth of its acoustic repertoire. A steadily more aggressive snarl as revs rise is accompanied by faint whines and whooshes from the turbos, crisp barks on full-throttle upshifts and vicious gunshots on the over-run, the sort of theatrics that recent noise and emissions regulations have sadly excised from newer models. Come to a stop and another sound dominates, that of the hard-working fans furiously feeding cool air into the engine. Moving the turbos atop the engine allowed it to fit in a much smaller space but effectively created an under bonnet oven, with nowhere for the heat to go. At the launch, Enderle admitted controlling temperatures was one of the most challenging facets of the whole operation.

All these noises will very soon be a thing of the past. The reason we’re driving the W205 C63 S is to say farewell; not to the badge, for AMG has confirmed that the moniker will continue (it’s built up too much capital to be abandoned, especially for a smaller number), but to the eight-cylinder C-Class. Instead, the W206 C63 will use a powered-up version of the A45’s M139 2.0-litre four-cylinder and trade its ’S’ for an ‘e’, signifying plenty of electrical boost. Total output will likely be well beyond 400kW, with all-wheel drive set to slash the 0-100km/h time to 3.5sec or less.

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