What is this thing? It looks weird…
We should start from the start: Mercedes has been undergoing rebirth paroxysms for the past few years, which is why its design language is all swoopy and ‘emotive’ (your mileage may vary). It’s done quite well so far, with boosted sales thanks to new cars like the CLA and GLA, and new C-Class and SUVs like the GLC, and a new naming system which even special AMG models can’t escape. But it hasn’t forgotten its ‘classics’ like the C 63 AMG.
But it’s not a C 63 AMG. Is this a trick question: When is a C 63 AMG not a C 63 AMG?
No it’s not, but yes it is. The answer is: ‘When it’s Mercedes AMG C 63 S.’ The AMG word has moved to the front of the name, the better to accentuate the ‘serious sub-brand’ business in way that differs from say, BMW M. But mobile acronyms aside, yes, this is the new C 63 AMG. The old version, based on the previous W204 C-Class, was a car close to our heart: A monstrous 6.2-litre, naturally-aspirated V8 with 457bhp, but it had just the right balance of imbalance and controllability to egg you to do Very Naughty Things with it. All of that wrapped up, rather perversely, in a sedan bodystyle.
Same 4.0-litre biturbo engine in a 911-slaying bodystyle. Here’s the AMG GT S sports car reviewed and tested alongside the C 63 AMG on track.
Thus the new one has much to live up to…
That’s right. And it’s almost entirely new: New bones (from the W205 C-Class, stronger, lighter etc), new design and more importantly: turbos. Two turbos, on a 4.0-litre V8 engine which cranks out 510bhp and 700Nm of torque. It’s essentially two of the firecracking 2.0-litre engine from cars like the GLA 45 AMG joined at the hip.
The S model, like the GT S sports car, has adaptive engine mounts, harder dampers, an additional ‘Race’ driving mode, and more power over the non S model.
Does that account for all the bling?
No, the extra glitz on this test unit is a result of the Edition 1 package, available only at the debut of the car’s production, and as also seen with recent AMG models. It adds the side graphics, special black/red wheels, red accents, a ‘black pack’ which adds lots of exterior gloss black bits. Inside it’s like CNY, with red seatbelts, stitching, unique steering wheel and sport seats and red carbonfibre on the centre console. It all costs $27,900 in full.
Ok so it looks fiery. Does it drive so, too?
But the C 63 is very controllable. Lesser C-Class models (C 250, C 400) have an aura of floating imperviousness almost a borrowed glamour from the S-Class, and the C 63 S is no different, if the sound and 510bhp fury lessens that safe feeling a little.
So it’s more digital than analogue…
There are times you feel more pilot than driver. There are four drive modes, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Race, with accompanying degrees of drivetrain, suspension, ESP and exhaust settings. In Comfort the V8 falls silent, only the large bumps ever disturb your posterior and, like most C-Classes, the interior is peaceful. Flip the drive mode switch and the C 63 S does its best Jekyll and Hyde (or is it just varying degrees of Hyde?) and transforms into a snarling, tail-happy beast.
An everyday beast, perhaps?
Yes, although it isn’t perfect. The gearbox is still a seven-speed automatic unit without a torque converter – that’s replaced by a wet clutch pack which AMG says offers quicker shifts and lockup. It behaves very well, with clean ups and blipped downs, although it has a tendency to make the car lurch on initial throttle application, likely as the clutch locks up.
Like the GT, there’s a ‘proper’ thunderous, backfiring V8 soundtrack despite the pipes feeding back into sound-muffling turbos, and in terms of soundtrack and willingness to shred its rear-Michelins, there’s the hooligan aspect lurking, ever ready to go at the touch of a dial.
It’s very good in the effortlessly fast and dramatic milieu, this is all jammed into a relatively practical sedan – it still has four doors, a huge amount of space (class leading wheelbase, says Merc) and a big boot too.
Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Edition 1
Engine 3,998cc, 32V, V8, twin-turbo
Power 510bhp at 5500-6250rpm
Torque 700Nm at 1750-4500rpm
Gearbox 7-speed automatic w/ wet clutch
Top Speed 250km/h
0-100kmh 4.0 seconds
Fuel efficiency 8.3L/100km
Price $456,888 with COE
Also Consider: BMW M3