An unlikely companion: Road tripping through the Western Cape in a V8 beast

2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image: Lauren Fredericks
2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image: Lauren Fredericks

When you think of road trips, the vehicles that come to mind are usually family-friendly ones that ooze comfort. Not a big, brawny V8-powered family sedan.

Cars like the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S are not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill road trip cars; they’re just too… compromised. For starters, this powerful Merc is heavy on fuel, it weighs quite a bit, and the suspension setup can be jolty – even in Comfort mode, it can be a bit hard.

These are not things you want your road trip vehicle to exhibit, but when the chance to go on a trip with a car like this comes around, you take it. You grab it with both hands, and you forego the monthly budget for a weekend’s fun. Note: the cash on hand is not for enjoyment, but to ensure you get to your destination and back home again.

It’s an exciting prospect taking one of the most brutal sports cars on the market on an in-land trip, but all the while, you’re aware of the fact that the beast can bite. Because if it bites, you best be in control.

Mercedes-AMG C 63 S

2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image: Lauren Fredericks

Thundering on

With the fuel tank filled and the sun rising from the mountains surrounding my suburb, the C 63 S gets its thunder on. A sonorous bark bellows from the quad-exhaust pipes, sending slight shivers down my spine as I wait for the burble to settle.

You know that this trip will make a dent in your wallet, but you don’t care. There’s no need to keep wondering about next week’s groceries – you’ll just live off the memory that your hard-earned money went for a good cause (enriching fuelling stations).

Quick Review: First sprint in Mercedes-AMG’s ferocious C 63 S

Off we go, cruising out of the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s an easy road to take: up the R44 towards Paarl, climb onto the N1 towards Worcester, and then the Slanghoek Road towards Tulbagh. We stick to every speed limit because breaking the law won’t be much of an issue.

I use the steering wheel-mounted paddles to quickly move through the nine-speed gearbox, getting to the highest gear in a bid to test the average fuel claim. It didn’t do much, because, despite my best efforts and a feather foot, consumption still twirled around the 18-litre/100km. At one point, it went as high as 26-litres!

Regardless, on we go as the road calls out our names.

Mercedes-AMG C 63 S

2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image: Lauren Fredericks

Bark, Merc, bark!

The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S has a few driving modes on offer, ranging between Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, and RACE. For most of the journey, I spent my time between Comfort, Sport+, and individual, the latter specified to the driver's preferences.

On the N1, just after Paarl, I make my way past the toll gates (thanks to the e-Tag on the car’s windscreen, I passed like a boss in a boss car) and headed for the Huguenot tunnel. This tunnel shortens the distance between Paarl and Worcester by 11km rather than driving over the mountain via the Du Toitsloof Pass. As tunnel approaches, the windows had to be unwinded as I gradually decrease my speed. It’s about to go down! Sport+: engaged.

WATCH: The Mercedes-AMG C63 S' V8 will live long in petrolheads' dreams

I gaze in the rearview mirror and see that there’s enough of a distance to the vehicle behind me. I slow down to about 20km/h, hook first gear, back on the throttle, and whack the paddle on the right for second gear. The bangs, the pops, the sounds! It’s a symphony of noises in the tunnel as I back down from 60km/h. Because of the possible dangers associated with driving in tunnels, one should never go full throttle in a car like this. Of course, you want to have fun, but sanity and logic should always prevail.

I complete the remaining distance of the 3.9km tunnel at a speed of 70km/h. The signage does allow for a maximum speed of 90km/h, but my fun (at a maximum of 60km/h) was over.

When you exit the tunnel, the most beautiful view welcomes you. Hills and valleys adorn the landscape. And right now, in the C 63 S, I don’t want the road to stop. This is heaven.

A surprising turn of events

After a few days in Tulbagh and recharging the batteries, it was time to hit the road back to Cape Town. By 9am, the car was hitting all the right notes. The fresh morning country air plays the cabin, creating just the right ambiance to ponder on this car’s traits.

Fuel consumption and stiff suspension aside, this car impressed all round. It created smiles more than I thought it would, and it showed that serious performance sedans could double as cross-country road trip machines. The drive, as well, once you got used to it, becomes somewhat comfortable as your body adjusts to it. The sports seats are from the AMG factory, but they offer enough support during your journeys.

Back home, I gazed back at the C 63 S. It’s been a good few days. Memorable days. It might not be the first choice for a road trip companion, but it sure makes for good company.

Quick facts:

Model: Mercedes-AMG C 63 S

Price: R1 583 536 (base)

Engine: 4.0-litre V8, bi-turbo

Power: 375kW / 700Nm

Gears & Drive: 9-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive

Top speed: 290km/h

0-100km/h: 4.0 seconds

Economy: 18-litres/100km

Boot: 435L

Weight: 1755kg

Mercedes-AMG C 63 S
2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Image: Lauren Fredericks
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