By Shari Prymak
AMG made its mark in 1987 with the Hammer; a 355 horsepower tire-melting luxury sedan that, fitting to its name, pounded every exotic performance car of the day. Since then, the performance brand has expanded into a full model line which includes everything from 4-cylinder hatchbacks to 12-cylinder limos. Despite the evolution, AMG hasn’t lost its touch for stuffing regular Mercedes models full of exceedingly powerful engines and other go-fast bits. The Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a perfect example of this ethos.
The C63 is available in both sedan and two-door coupe body styles. Coupes are often known for being less practical yet more expensive than their sedan counterparts. The only real reason to choose one is for the styling, and the C 63 Coupe is quite a looker. Not only is it more attractive than its sedan cousin, its alluring design mimics that of the far more expensive S-Class Coupe, only on a smaller scale. The matte black paint finish of my tester combined with the black wheels gives it an especially sinister look hinting at the aggression lurking underneath.
Opening the door reveals a richly-appointed, yet purposeful interior. The materials are a fine network of leather, aluminum, carbon, and alcantara that wouldn’t look out of place in an S-Class. The infotainment system has a complicated interface, but is visually appealing and usable enough once figured out. A little more padding and a little less bolstering on the otherwise excellent AMG sport seats wouldn’t hurt for those longer drives. Their aggressiveness is just a minor annoyance in what is otherwise quite an appealing cabin.
The C 63 feels equal parts luxury car and performance car, and switching between the two is as easy as turning the drive mode selector. In Comfort mode, the exhaust is muted, the 9-speed transmission takes a leisurely approach to gear changes, and the ride is reasonably well-sorted over all but the worst bumps in the road. Race mode takes things to the other extreme and turns the C 63 into a firm, edgy, race car. Individual mode, with the suspension left in Comfort and everything else in Sport+ turned out to be my favourite combination. It makes the car feel all fizzy and full of character, but still usable enough for regular errands.
BMW and Alfa Romeo make a convincing case for 6-cylinder power these days, but there’s nothing quite like a V8 for that extra bit of theatre. The hand-built, twin-turbocharged 4.0L engine is the C 63’s showpiece. It produces a pavement eating 503 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Stabbing the throttle results in heart-pounding acceleration leaving the tires left begging for mercy. Despite the muffling of the turbochargers, the exhaust note is still as mean and vicious as any American muscle car. Although not as pure and musical as the naturally-aspirated V8 of the Lexus LC 500, this easily one of the best boosted V8s on the market.
On top of the already high-performance C 63, the S model adds massive brakes, dynamic engine mounts, an electronic limited-slip differential, and the Race setting on the drive mode selector. The coupe even uses a unique rear axle setup from the sedan for added agility, and it certainly seems to work. The M3 fanatics will be quick to point out that Mercedes-AMG cars lack that razor-sharp precision and chassis finesse of a BMW M product. That may be true, particularly at 10/10ths on a track, but the C 63 is just as fun where it counts; in the day-to-day drive where 99 percent of time is spent. On the road, any minor dynamic deficiencies simply fade into insignificance thanks to the all-dominating engine and that raucous exhaust note.
Aside from an irritating engine start/stop system (that can fortunately be switched off), the aggressive seats, and an alarming thirst for fuel, the Mercedes-AMG C63 S is rather difficult to fault. At $86,200 to start, or $110,450 as tested here, it is certainly a tempting package. The idea that you can get the same V8 engine as the nearly twice as expensive AMG GT supercar in a sedate, under the radar C-Class has huge appeal. The satisfying noise and over-the-top power of the engine adds a level of drama and excitement unrivalled by anything short of the LC 500. And yet, it manages to offer that monstrous performance without sacrificing luxury. If that’s a formula that resonates with you, Mercedes-Benz has your ride.