The skinny: You should never doubt the geniuses at Mercedes-Benz’ performance arm, AMG.
Take the new Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. Despite its downsized twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine (replacing the previous model’s naturally-aspirated 6.3-litre V8), it has lost none of its sledgehammer power and thunderous soundtrack.
We should have known. Those petrol heads in Affaltenbach, Germany, have never taken a backward step.
With more power and significantly more torque (700Nm, that's 50Nm more than the AMG GT sports car), zero to 100km/h in 4.0-seconds, brilliant new chassis technology and an exclusive interior, the Mercedes-AMG C63 S at $154,510 is actually something of a bargain.
Vehicle style: Four-door sedan
Price: $154,510 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/transmission: 375kW/700Nm 4.0-litre 8cyl turbo petrol | 7spd automatic
Fuel consumption claimed: 8.6 l/100km | tested: 11.4 l/100km
The ‘S’ is now the only version of the C63 sold in Australia and it will set you back $154,510 for the sedan model TMR tested, or $157,010 for the Estate version.
‘Mercedes AMG spotters’ will remind you the bi-turbo 4.0-litre V8 is code-numbered M177 and, like all AMG engines, it is individually hand-assembled by one technician in Affaltenbach.
Interestingly, the version fitted to the AMG GT sports car, while retaining the ‘Hot Inside V’ of the C 63 S (turbochargers and exhaust manifold inside the ‘V’ of the cylinders) uses a dry-sump lubrication system and delivers less torque in that car (650Nm).
Drive is to the rear wheels via the AMG MCT-7 seven-speed automatic transmission with throttle-blipping downchanges which, in most modes, is ridiculously smooth.
As well as the new engine, the C 63 S headlines dynamic engine mounts (as fitted to the Mercedes-AMG GT) which vary stiffness as required. (Reducing movement of mass delivers more precision when cornering, and the softer settings in comfort mode provide reduced NVH.)
The AMG suspension sits lower than other C-Class models and the C 63 S rides on beautiful 19-inch alloy wheels.
- Standard features: adaptive cruise control, head-up display with virtual image windscreen projection, AMG instrument cluster with TFT multi-function display, AMG IWC analogue clock, air-balance oxygen ionization system with a choice of five scents, AMG performance front seats
- Infotainment: Comand Online with free-standing multi-function screen, 13-speaker Burmester audio system, digital TV tuner
- Cargo volume: 480 litres, seat up.
Honestly, we can’t think of a luxury/high performance interior styled better than the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S.
It’s an alluring combination of Nappa leather for the seats, double-stitch ‘Artico’ for the dashboard upper and door trims, plus superb highlights in timber and polished aluminium.
The front seats have polished aluminium cutouts for race harness shoulder straps (an aesthetic rather than practical touch) and pneumatic adjustment to ensure just the right amount of snugness.
The super three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel (with Alcantara grips) feels exactly as a sports steering should: shaped just right, ‘light’ when it needs to be, direct and with razor precision when at speed.
On top of the centre-stack is the Mercedes ‘Comand’ infotainment screen operated via a mouse-like device on the centre console.
Instruments get the AMG treatment and the cockpit delivers a genuine, totally exclusive, high-performance environment.
C 63 S also scores a terrific full-length glass roof.
ON THE ROAD
- 375kW/700Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine
- Seven-speed automatic transmission with adaptive dynamics, rear wheel drive
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- Four-wheel independent multi-link suspension with coil springs, adjustable dampers and anti-roll bars
- 390mm composite front disc brakes, with 360mm rear discs, ed AMG calipers
One of the advantages of the ‘Hot Inside V’ configuration – according to Mercedes Benz – is reduced turbocharger lag. Placing it inside the ‘V’, shortens the path of the exhaust gases.
Rather than ‘reduced’ the term they should be using is ‘non-existent’.
The AMG V8 unleashes its 700Nm from as low as 1750rpm. And when it unleashes, it does so with an almighty heaven-shaking roar from the special AMG quad-exhaust tailpipes.
The sound is electrifying. Unlike some, AMG doesn’t need to artificially ‘tune’ the exhaust note of the 4.0-litre V8 – it was all done in development. The engineers set out to ensure the bi-turbo V8 provided “a satisfactory noise” to counter the potential criticism from those wedded to the previous, much larger, atmo 6.2-litre V8.
It’s a similar story for the seven-speed transmission – AMG avoided a dual -clutch here but upshifts are lightning fast and in ‘S’ or ‘S+’ you get satisfying race-car style throttle-blipping downchanges.
To be honest, even when going hard, the MCT-7 transmission is so good the steering wheel paddle shifters for manual changes seem almost superfluous.
That said, best you reserve Sport+ for race circuits (‘S+’, selectable via the AMG Dynamic Select switch and which also adjusts the adaptive dampers); around town, in that mode, you’ll find the Mercedes-AMG C63 S a bit grumpy and hard-edged.
The C 63 S puts its power to the road startlingly well, few cars will disappear to the horizon like this performance machine.
And in ‘S+’, should you happen to find the right winding road, there is sufficient dancing and lateral movement from the rear-end to keep enthusiast drivers involved.
In both ‘S’ modes, the steering is ideally weighted but the suspension is definitely on the firm side of taut (which limits its appeal for everyday driving).
Combined with awesome body control you can pitch the C 63 S into corners and the superb tyre grip and virtually zero body roll means everything is very precise even at extreme speeds.
‘C’ for comfort brings a much softer dynamic which is nevertheless still noticeably firmer than a regular C-Class.
But to complain of a firmer ride is to misunderstand entirely. It is, simply, a sledgehammer: more ‘weapon’ than mere car, and an astonishingly swift and capable sports saloon.
ANCAP Rating: 5-Stars - This model scored 36.46 out of 37 possible points
Safety features: ABS, EBD, traction control, stability control, seven airbags, reversing camera, speed limiter, adaptive cruise control.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER:
The all-new Audi S4 debuted recently at the Frankfurt Motor Show and is powered by a new 260kW/500Nm turbocharged V6 (driving through and eight-speed automatic transmission and the Quattro AWD system) to cover zero to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds.
While Australian prices have not as yet been revealed, the current S4 at $104,610 is quite a bargain.
BMW’s M3 is a gem with that awesome twin-turbo six-cylinder delivering a screaming 317kW/550Nm. While its one-tenth slower zero to 100km/h than the C 63 S, the M3’s $139,900 RRP gets attention.
In a segment packed with truly superb vehicles, the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S is the benchmark for premium sports saloons.
Those who dared question the switch to a smaller capacity turbocharged V8 have been forced to eat their words – the twin-turbo 4.0-litre is spectacular, AMG at its best.
Perhaps more impressive – but as we expect from AMG – is the total package of drivetrain and chassis.
Fast and flowing, and 'tight' at lower speeds, no matter the corner, the C 63 S has the set-up just right.
Sure $154,510 is a lot of coin – but the combination of driving dynamics, technology and creature comforts means the Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a seriously compelling buy.
This car is one of 'the greats'.