by: Mike Ginsca
Almost a decade ago, the horsepower war between the big three German automakers reached new levels as each were trying to out-do each other. BMW had just introduced a 420hp V8 in the M3, Audi had the 420hp RS4 with Quattro, and Mercedes-Benz instantly became the most powerful with this 451hp C63 AMG.
Performance – Almost a decade later and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is still a sought after performance sedan. It’s not hard to see why. A compact sedan with a ferocious 6.2L V8 engine that is capable of producing 451hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. That is muscle car figures and so are the performance statistics. From a stop, the C63 can accelerate to 100km/h in just 4 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 250km/h however without the limiter, the car can theoretically achieve the sacred 200mph mark (320km/h). Think about it, 28 years ago the only car that could achieve that milestone was the Ferrari F40 which cost $400,000 ($800,000+ in today’s money). Now you can drive at 320km/h down an autobahn in a four door sedan that costs around $50,000. However you won’t be blasting past too many gas stations because the V8 engine is a thirsty beast. In a city it can only achieve a rating of 19.6 L/100km and on a highway it can manage 12.3 L/100km. But straight line speed is not the only thing that the C63 AMG has going for it.
In older AMG tuned Mercedes’, you always got the feeling that the AMG engineers took a normal Mercedes-Benz vehicle and just bolted on high performance parts. With this C63, they made parts that were purpose built for this vehicle. The front suspension has been reworked to give the sedan exceptional grip and steering response. It doesn’t have quite the same finesse as the E90 BMW M3 but it is by far the best handling Mercedes-Benz AMG sedan. 6-piston calipers on the front and 4-piston calipers on the rear stop the sedan with authority and with little brake pedal effort. The C63 also benefits from having the 7G-Tronic automatic transmission with AMG Speedshift modes (2012 and newer models received the AMG Speedshift MCT). The automatic transmission in this car behaves just like any other automatic that you’ll find in a normal vehicle. The difference being is that this transmission can handle the ferocious torque that the engine produces and it can lock the torque converter in “Manual” mode to allow the driver to hold a gear right up to the engine’s redline. In terms of automatic transmissions, it is one of the better ones out there.
Comfort – The Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is based on a C-class sedan which is the smallest sedan that Mercedes-Benz produced at the time. The compact size does limit interior space especially in the back seats. For children, the space would be ok but adults will have a difficult time getting comfortable. Trunk space is also on the small side with only 350L of space. The front occupants, however, have plenty of room and are “cocooned” in the sport front seats which provide a lot of side bolstering.
The design of the interior is unquestionably Mercedes-Benz in both feel and look. Closing the door has a solid “thud” that is associated with upscale luxury Mercedes-Benz products and everything that you touch has a feeling dependability. The only let down for me is how the design of the center console looks dated after just 4 years. Having said that, the controls for the COMAND interface are easy to learn and use and the controls for the climate and stereo are well laid out and where you’d expect them to be.
Odds and Ends – To set the C63 AMG apart from all other C-class models out there, Mercedes-Benz has given it a lot of extra styling cues that look like they belong a race car rather than a sports sedan. There are gills in the front bumper, bulges in the hood, a faux rear diffuser, quad exhaust pipes, and AMG badging on the spokes of the wheels. It’s hard to mistake the C63 AMG for another C-class vehicle but in case you do, all you have to do is listen because the 6.2L V8 has a very unique exhaust note than can be heard regardless of the vehicle’s speed. At idle it burbles like a muscle car and once it sets off, it has an unmistakeable V8 rumble.
Mercedes-Benz has always tried to create a BMW M3 rival but in the past they could never even come close to the precision and driving characteristics of the M3. But with the introduction of this generation C63 AMG, Mercedes-Benz has put a chink in BMW’s armour because now customers have a very good alternative to the M3 as their choice for a sports sedan.
Thank you to Autoform Performance Inc. for providing the car.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.