– Trieste, Italy
Look, I’m sure you could drive the new 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 Cabriolet every single day and be happy as a clam. It’s a great car. But you know what’s an even better car? The AMG C43. And you know what’s an even betterer car? The C63. Which brings me to the range-topping C63 S. It’s even betterer… er. Or something. But seriously, after a day spent driving through Italian and Slovenian wine country, one thing’s for sure: The glory and sound of Merc’s C-Class AMG is even more awesome with no roof over your head.
- Lament the death of Mercedes’ old naturally aspirated 6.2-liter AMG V8 all you want; there is replacement for displacement, and the biturbocharged 4.0-liter V8 is proof. I love the immediacy of this engine – the 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque are always available with no lag from the turbos. The seven-speed AMG Speedshift transmission warrants no complaints, either, with rapid-fire shifts and the ability to hold gears during long series of switchback turns.
- And then there’s that noise. Don’t kid yourself by thinking you’re not going to push the exhaust button to the right of the COMAND infotainment knob. Let that V8 sing loud and proud. There’s a throaty, naturally aspirated quality to the engine note, and plenty of cracks and pops and burbles from the quad-tip exhaust out back. It’s one of the best parts about the C63 Cabriolet experience – with the top down, all that glorious vibrato is just as audible for driver and passenger as it is for all the mouth-agape pedestrians you fly past.
- I’m not a huge fan of endlessly customizable driving modes, but unlike a lot of cars, there are real differences between the Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race, and Individual settings of the C63’s Dynamic Select function. For the purpose of driving fast on the smooth, twisty roads that connect small Italian and Slovenian towns, Sport and Sport+ offer the best balance of ferocity and complacency. You never feel like the car’s trying to get away from you, even in its sportiest setting. On the other end, there’s even a lot of fun to be had in the Comfort setting. You’re still working with 503 hp, after all.
- The added weight of the Cabriolet – just under 200 pounds compared to the coupe – doesn’t affect the razor-sharp handling of the C63 S. A weighty steering rack and firm but balanced chassis let you scoot the droptop around with ease. The whole car stays glued to the road; likewise your butt in the supportive and comfortable AMG seats. As far as tools for fast-driving fun go, the C63 S delivers poise and power that’s hard to beat.
- I really only have one problem with the AMG models versus the standard C300 Cabriolet: that lip spoiler. Seen here, the carbon fiber piece looks like a tacked-on afterthought, even if it does match the style of the AMG-specific rear valance. The standard C-Class Cabriolet has a simple, understated rump – ditch the tiny winglet out back and you don’t lose any sense of power or occasion from the rest of the wide-body, lowered, AMG C63 appearance.
- The C63 S certainly speaks to a “go big or go home” mindset (fine by me), but considering most people won’t use the Cabriolet as a track bruiser, the standard C63 – with its 469 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque – will be more than adequate. Of course, final pricing isn’t available just yet, but with the C-Class Sedan, adding the ‘S’ badge costs $8,000. That might be fine for serious drivers, but I don’t really think those are the folks opting for the Cabriolet over the stiffer Coupe or four-door variants. Of course, if you’re already paying (probably) $80,000 for the pleasure of a AMG-badged four-seat convertible, what’s an extra eight grand, right?
|2017 MERCEDES-AMG C63 S CABRIOLET|
|ENGINE||Biturbocharged 4.0L V8|
|OUTPUT||503 Horsepower / 516 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH||4.0 Seconds|
|TOP SPEED||174 MPH (limited)|
|CARGO VOLUME||8.8 Cubic Feet|
|BASE PRICE||$80,000 (est.)|
Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com