The old chap standing by the side of the road in a small village somewhere about an hour south of Lisbon has patently heard me coming. He’s paused in the dusty, cobbled margin, peering at the dark blue Mercedes-AMG C63 S as if slightly disappointed that the thunderous noise he must have heard from a few miles away has resolved into a fairly innocuous-looking blue saloon.
But, heading towards the village, I have knocked the C-Class into Comfort mode, popped the exhaust into a more socially acceptable configuration and slowed. He raises an eyebrow - difficult when your skin is the texture and colour of saddle leather - smiles and points both thumbs skywards in the universal sign of approval. With his hair slicked back and tiny ears, I can’t help feeling that I’ve just been given the thumbs-up by a giant, man-shaped Portuguese otter.
I’ll admit, the new Mercedes-AMG C63 has already proved itself a thumbs-up kind of car. I’ve only been driving it for about three hours, but already I’ve pottered luxuriously down a motorway, dealing with overtakes with the kind of languid nonchalance that comes from over 500lb ft, a V8 and turbos. I’ve played with every setting, understood them all, and deposited myself at the end of a very wriggly, unevenly surfaced road with a grin so broad it’s medically unlikely, and a set of optional carbon-ceramic brakes that are quite noticeably on fire.
This sounds like a bad thing - but when you realise just how tortuous the road, and just how fast the C63 can be, it’s surprising that the brakes are only on fire and not simply puddles of shiny slag wrapped around the tyres. This thing is immense… and yet it looks like a pretty unlikely hero car.
Pictures: Lee Brimble
This feature originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Top Gear magazine.