SA's Vernon Philander is an undercover petrolhead: We drive his Mercedes C63 AMG

Vernon Philander's Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. Image: Wheels24
Vernon Philander's Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. Image: Wheels24

• Vernon Philander is one of South Africa's most celebrated cricket players

• The 35-year-old is a massive petrolhead 

•  Wheels24's Sean Parker spent some time with the world-class bowler and his Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

He's one of the world's best bowlers, is feared by some of the best batsman and is a firm favourite among South African cricket fans. 

But he's also a massive petrolhead. Vernon Philander loves his cars and owns one that I've been fascinated with since I was a teenager: the Mercedes-Benz W204 C63. 

It's powered by arguably one of the greatest engines ever to come out of Affalterbach. It boasts a full-fat 6.2-litre V8 engine with a claimed 336Kw and 600Nm. Top speed is limited to 250km/h and 0 to 100km/h takes just 4.5 seconds. 

But that's the standard car. And Philander is anything but standard. The 35-year-old Ravensmead-born bowler took 224 wickets in 64 matches for the Proteas.  

His C63 is also far from standard. It has a sports exhaust, 507 Edition wheels and a lot more power. 

Like Philander, who was known for moving the cricket ball both ways, the C63's power simply urges its rear axle to move about when mashing the throttle.  

What immediately strikes me about the C63 when I get inside it, is how snug the seats are. The side bolsters hold me firmly in place. 

A quick turn of the ignition powers up the naturally aspirated V8 engine. It barks to life with a rawness that turbocharged motors  car doesn't have. 

"From a sound aspect, I don't think you get much better than this," says Philander as I floor the throttle. 

I use the paddle shifts and rocket through the seven-speed automatic transmission and lift off to savour the V8's pops and bangs on the overrun. It's an intoxicating experience that's akin to Philander's test debut in which he posted figures of 8 for 78 and duly picked up the Man of the Match award against Australia at Newlands. 

Which one of Vernon Philander's garage cars is your favourite pick? Please email us here.

The 35-year-old also has an AC Cobra, Volkswagen Arteon and a Range Rover in his garage. But the C63 is his toy, a car that gets the blood pumping. 

The engine 

But what has given the W204 C63 its cult status and made me want to experience it so badly? The engine of course. It dominates the car like a bird's eye chilli on a mini pizza. 

Each motor is hand-built by one man in Germany and the craftsmanship that went into it is superb. It's enthralling and completely satisfying to be in the driver's seat of a car that feels like a German hot rod.

It is reportedly the first Mercedes-AMG model designed from the ground up when it was released in 2008. 

From the moment I pull away, the car just eats up the road, devouring everything in its path. It may not be as precise in the handling department as some of its rivals from that era, but the C63 feels like an event to drive. It's a car I love to look at with its blistered wheel arches, power dome bonnet and four tailpipes.

I love that you can hear it before you see it. It's a car that will go down in the history books as an example of when "there's no replacement for displacement" was the unique selling point.

And like Philander's performances on the cricket field, it'll never be forgotten.

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