Seems like the Mercedes C63 AMG estate has a bit of breathing space. Why? Because if you’re in the market for a circa-£50k muscle estate, you’re options are seriously limited. BMW failed to come through with the M3 Touring and there’ll be no RS4 Avant this time (just the V6 S4 Avant and RS5 coupe), leaving you with the option of upsizing to the M5 or RS6 Touring V10s, or taking your life in your hands with a sub-£40k deal on the Chrysler 300C SRT-8 or a very random punt on an Aussie-import VXR8 estate. See what we mean?
Isn’t that because nobody wants a gas-guzzling people lugger?
Quite possibly. But there’s still – albeit greatly reduced – demand for performance saloons, so the C63 estate’s extra versatility could be just the ticket for petrolhead dads and active types. Of course, all the stuff we loved about the C63 saloon is present and correct too: the sure-footed, fun-to-exploit chassis; the refined and quick seven-speed auto; those brilliantly supportive bucket seats; and, last but not least, the frankly amazing 6.2-litre V8.
Go on then, indulge me.
What an engine. There’s a muscle car soundtrack from down low and instant, rampant torque complemented by a hunger for revs and a buzzsaw scream towards the 6800rpm redline that first impressions tell you not to expect. Look at a C63 piston and you’ll get an idea as to why this is – it’s incredibly broad, allowing the stroke to be comparatively short to the benefit of soaring revs.
You do have to watch yourself, though. Turn the traction control off and it’s very, very easy to experience third gear powerslides on the road. Do the same in an M3 and the BMW will also oblige, but you have to make a much more determined effort to get it slipping.
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And what of that extra versatility?
Well, the estate doesn’t look as good as the saloon, and we’re not quite convinced by the extra versatility. The stats say the estate boasts an extra 10 litres of space (485 plays the saloon’s 475 litres) with the rear seats in position, but we tripped it up with a real-world comparison, the Barry family BMW E46 3-series estate swallowing a baby pushchair with less fuss. The C63 just doesn’t seem as accommodating as you might expect, though dropping the rear seats does, of course, open up far more furniture-shaped possibilities.
There was also a further black mark during the C63’s time with us: we opened the boot one rainy day, removed our belongings, then pressed the handy electronic button to close it. Except it didn’t work. Cue a wet load bay, a wet CAR team (everyone crowded round thinking they’d know the solution) and a very windy journey home for the Mercedes delivery driver.
A private car would, of course, have been fixed under warranty, but we were lucky that ours failed in the work car park, and not at the airport/train station/dodgy city street.
Essentially, the greatness of the C63 lives on in the estate version. But you’ll have to really need the extra space that’s available by dropping the rear seats and unleashing the full 1500-litre load capacity to put up with the slightly uglier styling, 65kg weight penalty and £1200 price premium. With the seats in place there’s just not the practical advantage we expected. The failure of our electric-closing tailgate – a standard feature – is also a concern, though we’d imagine this was a rare glitch.
So let’s presume that fault was a one-off. And maybe you do need the 1500 litres, and maybe the tailgate will be attractive for outdoors types with mountain bikes to lug around. If that’s you, great. But we’ll imagine the vast majority of customers will be better served by the saloon for the vast majority of the time.
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