Behind the Wheel

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Review: Speedy, comfortable sedan but all that glimmers isn’t gold

The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a lesson in balance - speed meets comfort, power meets easy drivability.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

When a model wears the AMG badge, it's a signal that it is a driver's car. The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is no exception to that rule. But, driving is about more than just having a competent engine. It's in these small details where the model falters.

The looks of the C63 S are rather standard fare for a Mercedes sedan. It's smart, buttoned up, ready to take you where you want to go. It fits in nearly everywhere but doesn't quite stand out.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The profile of the model reveals a strong and confident design.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has installed a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 engine under the hood of the car. It produces 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That's more than plenty. When you get on the throttle, in any of the car's drive settings (Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, Race) it roars to life (more so if you push the button for the more aggressive exhaust note).

The nine-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth shifts and opting for the full paddle shifter experience is equally as smooth. What isn't smooth is the automatic stop-start functionality. Thankfully the quick push of a button on the center console turns that off ASAP.

Though the car's steering is spot on, its limited slip differential is less limited in its slip than is comforting when pulling out quickly from a stop. Off the line, it's a gem but turning the corner from a stop is another story. One could argue that getting on it in corner isn't what you're going to do on a daily basis if you own the car, but one doesn't simply buy a C63 S to take it easy.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Even when driving in Comfort mode, the driver's information display can showcase the car's power output and camber of the road. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

There's some cool features that you won't see on any model outside the Mercedes lineup in the U.S. The high beams turn on in a pattern similar to drawing back a curtain, and reveal a fantastic amount of illumination. A dial on one side of the AMG Performance steering wheel quickly and easily turns to adjust the drive mode while buttons on the other side allow you to easily adjust the suspension and exhaust.

That steering wheel comes made of half carbon fiber (from 10 to two and four to eight) while the remaining sections are covered in Dinamica suede. The suede bits are fine, but when the summer sun heats up that carbon fiber, it feels like a plasma cutter to the hands (and legs if you happen to bump it while wearing shorts).

This isn't aided at all by the air conditioning, which requires the car to be in gear and running (preferably in a forward motion) before it even thinks about dispensing cool air.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The car's seats are equal parts comfortable and sporty.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The C-Class is a compact car. It's interior is spacious for the first row passengers but the second-row seats can get a bit squished if you're tall. The AMG Performance sport seats are comfortable enough for everyday use but also hold you tight enough that should you choose to carve some corners you won't have to worry about wiggling around in the seat.

The car's safety technology works as advertised except that the traffic sign reading function has a hard time telling the difference between 55 mph and 65 mph at night. Active Speed Limit Assist is part of the Driver Assistance Package ($1,700 upgrade) on the model and while the issue shouldn't stop you from getting the package, it's something to be aware of.

The rest of the C63 S is as expected. Handing is engaging, fuel economy isn't fantastic, and upholstery and appointments are equal parts attractive and appropriate for the car's price point.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The back end of the model is rather status quo for the company's model line.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

About that price point. The tester came in a shade over $96,000 – the base MSRP is $75,700. That's a price for someone who really wants that car. They're not in the market to comparison shop and there's nothing wrong with that.

For the price of the C63 S as tested, you can get a fairly nice Porsche 911 or a BMW M2 Competition and a vacation. The biggest advantage the C63 S has over those is a a second set of doors and a usable back row – and that is quite the advantage for many buyers.

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Pininfarina is set to begin delivers of its Battista hypercard soon.

Photo courtesy of Pininfarina

The Pininfarina Residenza at-home electric vehicle charging point may be the most exclusive wall box charger in the world. The exclusive home charger is available to buyers of its 1,900-horsepower Pininfarina Battista.

The box was designed in partnership with Green Motion and is badged with the Automobili Pininfarina name. It has up to 7.2 kilowatts of energy flow in North America.

The design of the wall box was inspired by the lines of the Battista. It features a painted cover finished in the same color the owner has selected for their pure electric, Italian luxury hyper GT. The box is constructed of recycled and organic materials.

Pininfarina Battista Pininfarina promises 1,900-horsepower Battista electric hypercar deliveries will begin soon. Photo courtesy of Pininfarina

For North American customers, the Residenza wall box features a tethered Type 1 cable (Mode 3) which includes an integrated cable management system which automatically gathers and rolls the lead into the box.

Each Battista is powered by a 120-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The pack can be charged by the wall charger in six hours. The top-up provides 310 miles of range (WLTP).

Pininfarina has announced a partnership with ChargePoint for charging outside the home. ChargePoint's network has approximately 115,000 places to charge in North American and Europe, as well as 133,000 charging spots through roaming integrations with other charging network providers.

Using a 180kW DC-charging system, owners will be able to charge their Battista from 20 percent to 80 percent in just 25 minutes.

Battista owners receive five years of unlimited public charging at no extra cost with their purchase.

"Our clients will love the thrill of Battista's extreme electrified performance, yet they also need to enjoy living with this advanced technology," said Automobili Pininfarina Chief Product and Engineering Officer Paolo Dellacha. "For that reason we have ensured there are a comprehensive number of public charging points available to them, made possible through our collaboration with ChargePoint.

"At the same time, a large proportion of the Battista's charging will be done at home and our exclusive wall box design provides owners with a bespoke solution, finished to their exact taste."

The Residenza wall box may be activated through a dedicated app, which allows owners to remotely schedule the charging of their Battista and monitor its charging status. The app also enables owners to view the charging history and is integrated with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for enhanced convenience.

Owners use their Battista keyfob or app to link to ChargePoint network chargers. Each fob contains a secure RFID chip that can be used to complete a charge purchase without any additional charging cards required.

The Pininfarina Battista is priced at over $2 million.

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Chevrolet completely redesigned the Suburban for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

At over 18-feet long, the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban is massive in stature. The redesigned-for-2021 Suburban is also one of the most technologically advanced SUVs to roll off any General Motors assembly line. The question is, is it any good?

Yes. There is no point in burying the lede on this. The Suburban is the Chevrolet to have if you consistently need to carry six or more people and all of the gear associated with it. Need to take the kids to soccer practice? No problem. Need to bring grandma and grandpa on the family road trip? No problem. Need to carry an entire high school marching band and their instruments? Easy peasy. A colleague even suggested that the rear seats are in a different ZIP code than the front seats.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Premier The Suburban has grown for the 2021 model year.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

But unlike Doctor Who's Tardis, the Suburban is just as big on the outside as it is on the inside. The Suburban's boxy shape highlights how functional the design is – maximizing interior space is key. A new front grille and headlight setup comes straight from the Chevy Silverado pickup truck. Massive wheels are needed just to fill out the wheel arches.

Around back, a power liftgate (standard as hands-free in LT and up trim levels) is flanked by new taillights and there's a real dual exhaust for the 5.3-liter V8 that comes standard on Suburban. A 6.2-liter V8 and a 3.0-liter Duramax diesel are also available. All the engine options are paired with GM's 10-speed automatic transmission.

While the Suburban never feels smaller than it is, it is nice to drive. The automatic's shifts are flawless in execution, and the 5.3-liter V8 sounds great on throttle. At nearly three tons, the Suburban isn't light, and the upgraded 6.2-liter V8 is worth the extra money if you're planning on towing or filling the Suburban with people consistently. There just doesn't feel like enough oomph with the lower-spec engine to really get the Suburban moving. The sweet spot might end up being the diesel, like it is with the Silverado, but that's not available for a few months.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Premier The Suburban is appropriately appointed for its price point.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Magnetic Ride Control is standard on the Premier trim, and while it doesn't also include the air suspension of higher-spec models, it does a good job at smoothing out the bumps and imperfections of the road. Though the Suburban does feature a sport driving mode, at no point did I feel compelled to use it to get a leg up on the traffic around me during testing. Leave it to its natural devices the Suburban drives pretty well.

The Expedition drives a bit smaller than it actually is, and the available Pro Trailer Backup Assist is a godsend for someone inexperienced with towing. Depending on spec, you can tow up to 8,300 pounds with the Suburban. That's enough for a small boat or camper, making the SUV a solid rig for weekend getaways.

There's plenty of room in the second row for passengers or pups during a weekend getaway, or longer. The Suburban Premier test unit had captain's chairs in the middle row, so gaining access to the third row is easy. There is also a lever on the side of the second-row chairs that, if you press it down twice, fold ups the seats up and away. While most three-row SUVs skimp in the back, this thing is big enough to seat adults and still have room for lots of cargo (up 19 percent over the 2020 model). In the front, the tester had leather seats that were heated and ventilated that sufficiently performed their functions.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Premier The Suburban Premier comes standard with a 10.2-inch infotainment touch screen.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

In front of the driver, an 8.0-inch digital instrument display is flanked by two analog gauges. A 15-inch wide head-up display (the largest in its class) has full-color, high-res graphics that are easy to read. General Motors makes their digital rearview mirror available on the Suburban, which makes it easy to see what's behind you because without it, you see just your passengers or the rows of empty seats directly behind you.

Chevrolet's latest infotainment system runs the Premier model's 10.2-inch touch screen and is updated to include wireless connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. That means you can just toss your phone on the wireless phone charger and you're off. A surround view camera does help in parking, though you're still going to want to avoid tight spots in city centers due to the overall size of the Suburban.

The test vehicle was black, making it look like a Secret Service transport for the President of the United States. And after a week in the new Suburban, it's easy to see why they prefer this SUV. The way that the Suburban uses its space is impressive. It maximizes interior cargo and passenger capacity. It's more practical in every row than a comparable Ford Expedition Max, and the V8 delivers better power than the Ford's twin-turbo V6.

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Premier The 2021 Suburban has 19 percent more cargo room than the previous edition.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

You know if you need a vehicle this size, and if you do, the Suburban is the way to go. Just opt for the larger V-8 engine and you'll have yourself a beast of a vehicle. The Premier trim is a nice sweet spot, too, with luxury features but without the opulence and price tag that comes with the High Country trim. The test model wasn't cheap at $74,080, but for big SUVs this is the one to get.

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