The Mercedes AMG C63 Estate combines monumental V8 performance with a practical boot, but an Audi RS4 Avant is quicker still and even more practical
Nobody can accuse Mercedes of restricting choice when it comes to its C63. Firstly there’s this spacious Mercedes AMG C63 Estate, then there’s the classic C63 Saloon, the sleek C63 Coupe and finally the wind-in-your-hair C63 Cabriolet. Here we’re focusing on the big-booted estate car, which goes head-to-head with other performance estates such as the Audi RS4 Avant.
This generation of the Mercedes AMG C63 Estate was first launched in 2015 but has been given a facelift for 2018. The changes begin outside with a new grille – the slats of which now run vertically rather than horizontally – and different front air inlets. Then there are new alloy wheel designs in both 18 and 19-inch sizes, a revised rear diffuser and different sports exhaust tips.
Inside you’ll find a new nappa leather sports steering wheel with redesigned multifunction buttons and selectors for the car’s driving modes and traction control settings. There’s also a new 12.3-inch digital cockpit which swaps the car’s standard analogue dials for a more visually appealing digital set that’s crammed with customisable information.
Other than that, the Mercedes AMG C63 Estate is familiar inside, with a dashboard design that is more striking than that in an Audi RS4, although prodding and poking it reveals the Audi’s is the more solidly constructed.
As standard the Mercedes AMG C63 Estate comes with a 10.3-inch infotainment display controlled via a touchpad and menu shortcut buttons between the front seats. The system is visually impressive, but you’ll have an easier time navigating the menus in an Audi RS4 and BMW M3 than either of the Merc’s systems, with their more logical menu structures and better rotary dial controllers.
As with more humdrum versions of the Mercedes C-Class Estate, front passenger space is more than adequate, though the driving position is very slightly skewed on right hand drive cars. At least the C63’s standard sports seats are superbly figure-hugging and the optional (and expensive) Performance seats are more impressive still.
Taller adults will find the rear is a little more cramped than in an you’d expect and more importantly than in an Audi RS4 Avant. Furthermore, the C63 Estate’s 490-litre boot is more than adequate for most, taking a couple of large suitcases or a bulky pushchair with ease, but you’ll be able to cram a little more luggage in the boot of the RS4.
Standard equipment isn’t a worry, though. 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, ambient interior lighting, keyless entry and start, wireless phone charging and electric memory front seats are all included. Start getting busy with the options list, though, and things can quickly get out of hand.
There’s room for the dog to come along, but with 0-62mph dispatched in just 4.1 seconds and an explosive exhaust note, pooch might be better off staying at home
The standard Mercedes AMG C63 Estate gets a 476hp version of Mercedes’ 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine, while going for the more powerful C63 S version gets 510hp. The difference in 0-62mph sprint times is frankly negligible – the S manages it in 4.1 seconds, while the standard C63 is just a tenth of a second behind it.
In both its forms Mercedes’ turbocharged V8 is a fantastic engine, pulling hard from low revs and spinning willingly to a thunderous crushendo at its redline. A nine-speed automatic gearbox is standard which is quick to react to manual changes via the wheel-mounted paddles, yet flicks intelligently between gears when left in auto mode.
The C63 Estate is a relatively heavy car, but it still manages to change direction with impressive urgency, thanks in part to a standard rear electronic differential that juggles power to find the most purchase on the road surface and active engine mounts that hold the engine more firmly in place while cornering hard. There are no less than six driving modes to choose between, too, starting with the most cautious Slippery mode and topping out with the frankly bonkers Race.
Moving up through the modes makes the steering heavier, the accelerator and gearbox more responsive, the suspension firmer and the traction control systems more relaxed. In fact, there are nine settings for how big a safety net you’d like with the traction control when pushing hard. Nine!
The bottom line is that there’s massive scope for fun with the C63’s tail-happy approach to cornering with its safety nets switched off, but on a wet and windy winter’s evening along a winding country road you’ll find it difficult to keep up with an RS4’s more assured all-wheel-drive performance.
Dial everything back to Comfort mode, though, and the Mercedes AMG C63 plays the relaxing cruiser every bit as well. Sure, there’s a bit of tyre noise at high speeds, but there’s little wind noise and the car’s suspension is supple enough to ensure things stay comfortable at the same time.
The Mercedes AMG C63 Estate isn’t as quick cross-country as an Audi RS4, then, and it isn’t quite as spacious or practical, either. It comes extremely close on both counts, though, and there is simply no beating its brilliant V8 engine. That alone is a very good reason for considering one first.