Wait, what? Bentley confirms its first official entry in the ‘race to the clouds’
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Yep. Yellow ones. The ones that denote the ‘Edition One’ launch variant of the Mercedes C63. We’ve already driven the C63 S Coupe on a soaking wet circuit, but this is the first time on a UK road, and the first experience of the Edition One. Just to make sure you can do the car nerd thing properly, the standard Edition One gets graphite grey stripes, it’s the S that gets the vomity ones.
So what’s different about the Edition One?
Styling, mainly, aping Merc’s DTM car. Mango Selenite matte grey paint, yellow stripes everywhere, yellow detailing on the rather lovely interior (excellent seats here, people), yellow, standard-fit carbon ceramic brakes and a gloss black aero pack that includes a new front dam, side skirts, rear diffuser and chunkier rear spoiler. The flared arches and other bits are as per the normal C63 Coupe, which means only the frameless doors, boot and roof are shared with the standard car. Oh, and there are also black, forged wheels (19s on the front, 20s on the back) that also get yet another yellow stripe around the rims. Bit of a bargain for an extra 5k. As long as you like yellow highlighting.
No engine changes?
Nope. You’re still looking at a wet-sumped version of the 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 from the C63 saloon and the AMG GT. That’s 469bhp/479lb ft for the standard car, 503bhp and 516lb ft for the S, somewhat incredibly making up the same bhp as the AMG GT S, but with an extra 37lb ft of torque. BMW M4? The S makes 78bhp and 111lb ft more, though it does cost a bit more than the BM’s starting price of £57k.
Er… that sounds like it might be fast?
The stats are suitably impressive. The S gets to 62mph in under four seconds, and hits 155mph on the limiter. You can option a higher top end if you hit the autobahn regularly or particularly like prison food that takes you to 180mph, and it feels like it’ll get there with some alacrity. And possibly some swearing. I’m going to say this once - be very wary of switching the traction control off in the wet unless you’ve had a large morning coffee. In fact, be wary of it in the dry - there’s enough torque to torch tyres up to third gear, and they aren’t cheap tyres.
A handful then?
Weirdly, no. Not at all, in fact. The engine is just one fat swell of torque, making bumbling around a doddle. Get going and it revs to 7k with ease, bringing grin-inducing power and in-gear acceleration that makes overtakes easy and safe. It is really, really quick. But it’s also not spiky, or scary, or any of the other things that make you back off. Turn in is sharp and consistent, the steering is direct - at least in Sport + mode and up - and there’s a level of grip on a constant throttle that inspires confidence. Start to mess about with corner entry and throttle on exit, and you get a smidgen of understeer, followed by as much oversteer as you feel like, or can afford, the electronic diff (the standard car gets a mechanical locker) dividing drive precisely and well. It feels very different to either the C63 saloon or estate, sharper, neater, and generally more focussed. Weirdly, it also feels like the suspension is more expensive, and geared more towards ‘sporty’ driving - exactly as it should be for a Coupe - this isn’t just a different body style, it’s a different car. Oh, and yes, it’s a bit drifty.
What about UK roads?
As ever, Sport+ and Race modes (there’s also Comfort, Sport and Individual on the dial) would be fine for a track, but there are some pretty hefty vertical movements from the back axle over bumps that make balancing the traction a nightmare, especially in the wet. It’s not as bad as some German cars, but it’ll wear you out eventually, because the Coupe basically hops about on our wobbly backroads. Play with the Individual mode, and you’ll soon find what suits you, mind. Program once, and it’s done. Hit preferred settings when playing, Comfort when cruising, save Race for occasional track nonsense. And once you’ve figured it out, you’ll have a four-seat coupe that’ll keep with a serious sportscar down any road, any time. And you won’t scare yourself silly doing it. The engine is always so beautifully managed too, and that helps with pace; with so much torque on offer, you can get gears completely wrong and it’ll just haul. And the new 7-spd ‘box will shift down within 1000rpm of the redline, which helps.
Yes, quite literally. The exhaust is just delicious; rumble on start-up, guttural, phlegmy and utterly brilliant on a light throttle - but never obnoxious - nice and thundery at higher revs. Ok, so the off-throttle firework popping and banging is a bit synthetic, and it’s not quite as raw as that old n/a 6.3 V8, but you won’t miss it. I’d have an AMG simply for the noise, and the fact that you can tell where it is in the rev-range without looking at the dials. It’s addictive.
The Edition One gets the S’s standard-fit carbon ceramic brakes and they really are phenomenal. Usually I’d only advocate CCBs for track work - steels being more than enough for typical road - but these have all the feel of the steel brakes, and they simply Do Not Fade. The stopping power is stunning, and the consistency of feel means you really do figure out how much pressure you have left before triggering the ABS. Takes a wee bit of getting used to, but everything else will feel a bit weak after this. There’s also quite a lot of high speed stability. We probably should leave that conversation there.
There must be some bad stuff?
Well.. umm… ah. It’s a bit of a horror to pull away on gravel drives without spraying pebbles everywhere, the infotainment screen still looks a bit stuck on (I always expect it to retract into the dash), the rear seats are for occasional use only and there are a lot of buttons. It’s also a little divisive on the styling front - personally, I think it looks great, especially with the Edition One front air dam, though the rear is the weakest angle.
Easier to drive fast than a BMW M4, more fun than any RS5 Audi, eats a Lexus RC F for breakfast. But more than that, it’s more fun, because it works with you, rather than scaring you silly. You can scare yourself witless - just turn off the traction control and try pulling smartly out of a junction on a wet Tuesday morning - but it’s your choice, rather than the standard setting of the car. It’s all about balance, and the C63 S Coupe has that in spades. The Edition One adds a chunk of value for a relatively small price premium, although the stripes will be great fun for about a week - after that I think they’ll start to annoy. I’d just keep it simple with the colour scheme and go for a proper subtle street sleeper vibe. Other than that, in my opinion this is the best four-seat performance coupe you can buy right now, bar none.
Price: £68,070 (standard S) (approx £73,000 Edition One)
Engine: V8, 3982cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol
Power: 503bhp at 5500-6250rpm, 516lb ft at 1750-5500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 0-62mph 3.9sec, top speed 155mph (limited)
Economy: 32.8mpg (combined); CO2/tax band; 200g/km, 35 per cent
Kerb weight: 1800kg