WE’RE not suggesting there is the prospect of an abrupt end to the luxury-SUV boom, but local C-Class wagon sales local C-Class wagon sales have increased nearly seven-fold in the past decade.
This version is the C63 S AMG Estate, which is again loaded to the gunwales with such credibility that a roof-pod accessory is almost mandatory.
We’ve already driven the sedan at Bathurst and declared it yet another progressive step for the brand’s biggest-selling AMG line; this is our first taste on local roads of the more practical version.
While boot volume increases by five litres to 490 (beneath the luggage cover) over the previous model, the cubic capacity of C63’s V8 engine drops significantly from 6.2 to 4.0 litres. A pair of single-scroll turbochargers nestle between the angled banks of cylinders to ensure performance and efficiency both improve, though the wagon’s additional 75kg mass costs it a tenth in acceleration (4.1sec to 100km/h) and economy (8.7L/100km) against the C63 S sedan.
Our thinking is that the Estate’s extra helping of sheetmetal makes it the more attractive of the current C-Class body styles, even if that’s unlikely to grow the percentage of wagon buyers beyond a tenth of C63 sales.
There’s also no discernible deformity in the handling after the transition from shrinkwrapped limo to load-hauler. That deft balance makes the Estate just as easy to guide at a significant pace along a challenging road.
The steering is quick, and better than the rack in the AMG GT. It’s more consistently fluid regardless of speed and offers more feel when searching out the adhesion levels of the 19-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sports. It’s not a challenge to get the power down early, and when grip levels are breached Sport and Sport Plus modes allow some minor slip angle before the electronics rein in the torque with a degree of subtlety.
AMG’s wagon does not feel as balletically light on its feet as the company’s new super-coupe, of course. Yet the chassis still copes effortlessly with aggressive weight transfers, and the dampers synchronise with the road surface more effectively. The suspension can still thump over surface joins in Comfort, and a less firm ride in this mode would help perfect the C63 AMG’s dualpurpose directive.
We can’t think of anything we’d change about the hand-built 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, though.
There’s an extra 50Nm compared with its twin under the longsnouted GT S, essentially to deal with the C63’s extra weight.
The wagon requires even less accelerator pedal travel to generate speeds that are comically quick for a load-lugger.
Throttle response is generally terrific, with Sport Plus making the engine feel least like a turbocharged unit. Or sound like one. Open the taps – as well as the flaps in the exhaust via the sportier modes, or a dedicated exhaust button – and glorious, guttural noises are unleashed in tandem with pops and bangs.
The multi-clutch seven-speed auto is remarkably alert and responsive, especially in Sport Plus.
Operate the paddles and you’ll find third gear can tackle a winding road almost single-handedly, its wonderful elasticity capable of ranging from urban tootling to instant-licence-loss velocity.
Top speed is 10km/h down on the sedan’s 290km/h, though Estate buyers will settle for the compensation of more convenient rear access. Yet both share the C-Class’s benchmark interior, while managing to elevate the C63 nameplate to even loftier heights.
Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate 3982cc V8 (90°), dohc, 32v, twin-turbo 375kW @ 5500-6250rpm 700Nm @ 1750-4500rpm 7-speed automatic 1725kg 4.1sec (claimed) 8.7L/100km $157,400 Now
Boot technically little larger than sedan’s; firm ride in Comfort mode Sound from its engine and exhaust; handling; performance; styling
Standard Performance seats (a bucket-style design with backrest-integrated headrests) bring ultimate body-hugging capability through electrically adjustable bolstering for both thigh and side lumbar.
Edition 1 package (not pictured) costs $7900 and brings a raft of exterior and interior garnishing laced predominantly with red, along with matte-black alloys, carbonfibre trim and various pieces of stitching.
If you happen to tire of the C63’s twin-turbo V8 soundtrack, its standard Burmester audio system pumps 590 watts through 13 speakers via a nine-channel digital sound processing amplifier.
BENZ transformed the C63 Estate into the official F1 Medical Car with a few mods. Engineers tweaked the suspension to take into account the extra weight of the emergency equipment plus three to four occupants, including the FIA’s head physician. They each sit in sports buckets with six-point belts. Braking performance is boosted with 402mm ceramic composite front discs that would add $9900 to your bill. There’s also a radio system and of course a flashing LED light-bar on the roof.
HIGH-revving V8, torque-vectoring rear diff and all-paw grip make for an entertaining, all-weather family performance wagon that saves $8K over a C63. The Benz is significantly quicker and more communicative, though, and RS4’s cabin will look dated once new A4 arrives next year.
WITH fast wagons so thin on the ground here, this stylish Swede is still one to consider, despite not being in the same league as the Germans for performance, or price.
Smooth straight-six turbo sounds pleasant and suspension brings worthy handling balance.