The previous gen C 63 was an absolute brute, but it was also one of our favourite machines. So, with this all-new generation, has Mercedes-AMG been able to up the ante of this monstrous sports saloon?
It’s easy to see why compact sport sedans have such appeal and attraction for automotive enthusiasts. These cars are of an everyday usable size, practical with their four doors and ability to seat five, while also allowing one to take long trips with their generous boot space. Pair their practicality with a monster of an engine, and a fitting soundtrack, along with some tuned suspension and handling tweaks, and you’ve got an extremely alluring product on your hands. And, if you can make it look subtly aggressive, it makes for the perfect Q car. Subtle enough to be ignored at first glance, but when provoked fast enough to shame a sports car with ease.
For years, this was a segment clearly dominated by Mercedes’ arch-rival BMW, with the M3 range. These cars were fast, exciting and incredibly popular worldwide. But, with the last-generation C 63, Mercedes finally upped its game to produce a worthy competitor to the M3. What they came up with was an absolute beast of a car – one that was equipped with a humongous 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8. The C 63 was fast, loud and visceral.
But all was not well with the previous model. While the M3 has always been about a balance in performance and handling – both equally matched – while delivering everyday usability, the C 63 was more or less a car wrapped around a small nuclear bomb of an engine with a breath-taking soundtrack for added effect. The main issue was that the engine was so capable that the rest of the car was left panting in its wake – trying desperately to keep up with the engine’s monstrous performance. The chassis could barely keep up with the power delivery, the gearbox was notoriously slow shifting, and the brakes started to fade after just a few laps around a racetrack.
So, as the generation change on the C-Class took place, AMG clearly had its work cut out with the new C 63. The aim was to provide a powerful engine, of course, but with a matching chassis and other components to make it a more homogeneous product. Of course, it also had to get the interiors absolutely spot on to enhance the C 63’s appeal further.
So, on a sunny but windy day in Portgual, we were handed over the C 63 S, and our destination was the Portimao racetrack to test the abilities of the car – both on road and on one of the finest racetracks in the world. Offered globally in two versions – C 63 and C 63 S – only the S will be offered in the Indian market. With an output of 503bhp, it has 33bhp more than the standard version.
The biggest change in the new car, other than the new platform of course, is the engine – a 4-litre twin-turbo V8, in place of the 6.3-litre naturally aspirated unit in the earlier car. In fact, the M177 engine is basically the same unit as the one in the new AMG GT sports car, with the only major change being that the unit in the C features wet sump lubrication as compared to dry sump in the GT. One of the highlights of this new engine is that its two turbochargers are not mounted outside the engine, but inside the V of the engine itself – making the motor more compact, and improving its response.
Visually, the new C’s basic design is a work of art – and AMG only improves on a beautiful baseline. The hard-line body kit, along with the optional 20-inch wheels means that the C 63 looks aggressive, but not over the top. The slightly widened track also makes the car look wider and squatter, adding purpose to its stance. And while there were multiple colours available, my personal favourite was the brilliant metallic blue with silver wheels – it was simply stunning!
The transmission – which was easily the weakest link in the old car – has been heavily revised, and while it’s not a dual-clutch unit like the AMG GT, the shift response from this 7-speed MCT is instant. And this is important, since it removes one of the biggest bugbears of the older car. Helping the gearbox put the power down is the standard-fit electronic locking rear differential.
But, once again, the highlight of the C 63 remains the engine, which has terrific throttle response and loves to rev. And given that it’s an AMG unit, it has a stunning soundtrack too. It pops, snarls and even gurgles like a good V8 unit with the switchable performance exhaust adding more effect to both upshifts and downshifts. In fact, despite delivering peak power at 6,250rpm, the engine conveys sustained thrust throughout its rev range. As a result, the C63 S does the 0-100km/h sprint in just four seconds. The extra torque from the turbocharging also helps, and the detailed engineering means that there’s no turbo lag whatsoever – no matter which gear you’re in. When given the boot, the engine responds immediately and, working in tandem with the quick-shifting gearbox, delivers performance that is very quick of course – but also quite usable day-to-day.
Inside the car, the feeling of luxury is pervasive. The interior is class-leading, and the sports seats are very supportive and comfortable. The AMG detailing on the interior trim also feels quite special.
On the road, the C63 S tends to run a tad stiff, which is an issue that will worsen in our road conditions. Fortunately, you can choose amongst three-adjustable suspension settings via the AMG Ride Control. The car has excellent high-speed stability, as one would expect. The electric steering, while too light in Comfort mode, weighs up very well in Sport and Race modes. The steering response is very good, and is very accurate too – tackling the technical turns of the Portimao circuit proved that much. The circuit itself is brilliant – with steep elevation changes, it’s a fantastic place to enjoy some fast, yet technical, driving. The C 63 S behaved impeccably on the track, while the optional high-performance ceramic brakes lasted lap-after-lap of abuse without any degradation whatsoever.
The appeal of the C 63, then, lies in the fact that it offers supercar levels of performance in a practical, usable package. And while the last car was dominated by the engine, with a chassis that could barely keep up, the new car is a much more balanced package that can handle everything the engine can dish out. When the C 63 S AMG reaches our shores later this year, it’ll be fun to take it to the BIC along with the BMW M3 to see which manufacturer makes the better sports saloon. And despite being a lifelong fan of M cars, I have a sneaking suspicion that AMG might have pulled one past the M division this time...
- Mercedes C 63 S AMG
Engine: 3,982cc / V8 / Twin Turbocharged
Transmission: 7-Speed MCT Automatic / Rear-Wheel Drive
Power: 503bhp @ 5500 - 6250rpm
Torque: 700nm @ 1750 - 4500rpm
Acceleration: 0-100km/h – 4.0 seconds