10 Oct 2013

Living with - 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe

Tom Smith reviews his own car, a 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe

2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe

I’m going to come right out and say this, I don’t like my C63.  I should, but I don’t. I fell in love with it on the test drive when I bought it, but living with it, that is a different thing. There, right at the start I am going to upset people who love them, but I have my reasons and honestly they are good ones, (albeit lots and lots of very small ones)!

First, the good bits…

Engine. 6.3ltr V8. Honestly, it is outstanding. In every gear it shines right up until the redline, (even better approaching the redline), it is a work of art. It is an AMG hand built engine and by goodness it shows. AMG really are very good at making engines just that little bit better and this engine is one such example. Worth buying for the noise alone.

Chassis and suspension. Again, AMG tweaked so very good. For a large coupe it rides very well. In many new cars you are overwhelmed with buttons and settings that “let” you tune the car to your personal taste. However, in my experience this tends to end up as a mess (yes Audi I’m looking at you). AMG on the other hand have set the car up for you and you can’t change it. Frankly it works, I still find myself enjoying the ride on UK roads and that in it self is quite an impressive feat.

Lights. OK, so not really something I often even think about in a sports car but seriously the lights on the AMG are amazing. I have the advanced version fitted to my car, projectors that adjust the beam inside the light bit. I’m not sure how it works but it does. Easily the best lighting system I have every used on a car (and I have had a few).

Now if you like cars, that little lot above might lead you to conclude that the AMG is actually a very good, fast and fun 2 door coupe. However, while there are times I drive the car hard (normally to pick my children up from school), where it shines like a diamond in a goat’s ass (I had to look that one up on urban directory), most of the time I drive it to work and have to live with the myriad of issues this car has……
2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe

Built by Mercedes!

Yes, that is the main issue I have with this car. All the AMG bits are outstanding. Everything else (built by Mercedes) is total rubbish. Mercedes cannot build cars, period. If you have some romantic notion that Mercedes is a quality car manufacture please give it up now. Honestly in my 20 year car buying history I have never ever been so disappointed with a car and its manufacturer.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG CoupeFirstly if I may, I would like to list some of the issues I have with the AMG: rattles (lots of), poor UI design between the command system and the driver display screen, poor DAB reception, missing functions in DAB, rubbish voice command system, poor handbrake design, the comedy speakers that hurt your ears, cheap plastics inside the car, steering wheel controls that don’t control the functions you need, fuel warning icons that don’t work, command system that won’t work with iPhone, heated seats that turn themselves off, a sat nav whose voice you can’t turn off, the USB charging point that won’t charge an iPhone and honestly the list goes on and on and on.

These are lots of tiny things, but it is the death by a thousand cuts. These are the issues that kill an outstanding engine and make the car a nightmare to live with. Now I know there are some people who will think I’m a fool for listing all these details and that I should shut up and just drive it, but this is my opinion and it was me who spent the money, so in my eyes, I want what I paid for and this is where Mercedes have totally missed the mark.

One example of the detail Mercedes gets wrong are the phone controls on the steering wheel. They are dead until you use the phone (doesn’t sound too bad does it)? But what if you want to redial a number you just rang? Well use the phone button on the main console because the steering wheel buttons don’t work. Seriously, they don’t work! They only work for an incoming call or ending a live call, nothing else. This is typical of the crazy design, nothing works as you expect and some of it (iPhone data connection) doesn’t work at all. When I wrote to Mercedes asking what they were going to do about the lack of data connection via an iPhone they said, “sorry, buy the new C63 (my13), that works with iPhone”. Brilliant. Again when I pointed out that some DAB stations were not displaying the radio data as they would (gave them the stations and the data) they agreed and said “ah yes this is a known problem; we will fix it some time in 2014”….

Frankly (and this won’t win me any friends in the C63 community), I think that Mercedes buyers in the main are a bit non-technical, otherwise they would be up in arms about just how badly designed (technology wise), the car is.

You note I haven’t mentioned (until now) the fuel consumption. It’s a tad heavy but (and keeping in mind all the above), I have never resented the constant trips to the fuel pump. I knew it was thirsty when I brought it, but the engine is so good, all of the time, I just don’t mind it one bit. Funny.

So, after only 4 months I have decided to sell it. Tomorrow I am driving an R8 V10 followed by a weekend with a C2 991. Honestly I can’t wait, not just because they are great cars but because the C63, just isn’t for me……

(Quick update: I bought the 911).

What about you? Did you find any of the issues I have experienced?

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