Giving AMG the keys to the new C-Class launched last year was always going to be a wise idea. But just how good can a fire-breathing, super saloon like the Mercedes-AMG C 63 really be?
We opted to test the more frightening C 63 S model – which comes with extra horsepower and a ‘Race’ mode in the dynamic settings for a lairier drive – to see if we have a BMW M3-beater on our hands.
The regular C-Class owes plenty to the bigger S-Class for its design, but because of its smaller size it wears the look less convincingly. In AMG form, however, it all comes together nicely. With 18-inch wheels as standard and 19-inch on the S version, there’s a nice dose of aggression without looking like it’s permanently in search of a punch-up.
“Open up the 4.0-litre twin-turbo and you soon realise this is £70,000 well spent.”Bigger air intakes at the front, quad pipes at the rear and flared sills joining them up gives a tastefully sporting look. Inside it’s similar to the standard car except for nice sports seats in the front. If we had to pick fault, Mercedes could ditch some of the faux carbon fibre decoration.
Like most of the compact saloon set, the C 63 S offers respectable but hardly cavernous space. Head and legroom is plentiful up front, while there’s decent headroom and legroom at the rear for three, providing the front seat occupant is something other than a professional basketball player.
Boot space is the same as the standard car, but if you want more than 480 litres you can buy the C 63 and the S version in estate guise, making it one of the most powerful family wagons money can buy.
Performance & handling
Despite the visual menace and hefty V8 up front, Mercedes-AMG has ensured the C63 S drives just as well as any other C-Class. Arguably better, in fact, because where the regular car has slightly detached steering and occasionally thumpy ride, the C 63 S is remarkably composed and responsive despite being noticeably firmer.
That’s only half the story. Open up the 4.0-litre twin-turbo and you soon realise this is £70,000 well spent. Forget any ideas about it sounding sanitised because of the turbos; this 510hp engine sounds magnificent whatever the revs and seemingly without any of the auto-tuning heard in its rivals.
“Few cars can deliver so much entertainment below £100,000.”Mash the right pedal and the C 63 S will sprint to 62mph in 4.0 seconds dead and can easily hit 174mph if you spec it right. Equally impressive is the handling and grip, with sweet and accurate steering, plenty of grip and tireless brakes.
Turn all the systems off and you can hoon with the best of them – and the C 63 S is only too willing to play along. It’s a delight and easily top of the class.
Economy & environment
Those who can somehow resist exercising that mighty V8 on a regular basis will reap the benefits of clever Mercedes AMG engineering. The 4.0-litre unit warms quickly and efficiently, thanks to locating the turbochargers between the banks of cylinders.
Switching it into Eco mode, meanwhile, kicks in the stop/start and chooses the softest settings for the engine and gearbox. 34.5mpg combined and 192g/km of CO2 is a remarkable set of stats for a car that will spank a 911 Carrera GTS from 0 to 62mph.
Equipment & value
There’s plenty of kit as standard on the C 63 S, as you might expect. On the S you get 19-inch alloy wheels, performance front seats, LED headlights and an electronic limited slip rear diff instead of the purely mechanical one on the regular C 63 as standard.
An even noisier exhaust is available for £1,000, while the carbon ceramic brake upgrade for the track day enthusiasts will set you back £4,285. The useful head-up display is £825. It is easy to go mad with the options, admittedly, but you can easily get away with the standard spec.
There are few better cars to have a crash in than a Mercedes. You get a full five star Euro NCAP rating, with a stiff bodyshell and comprehensive ESP system that includes two additional modes so you can play around with the various settings as much as you feel comfortable with.
Then there is the assurance of big brakes, wide tyres with plenty of grip and crystal-clear LED headlights in addition to German build quality and a lengthy crumple zone.
The biggest problem with the C 63 S is finding fault with it. The outgoing car was brilliant, but the new car is even better. The extra firepower of the S version is worth the extra £6,750, if only for bragging rights. It’s comfortable and soothing when it needs to be and ridiculously entertaining the rest of the time. Few cars can deliver so much entertainment below £100,000.
The obvious rival is the BMW M3 but it lacks C 63’s sheer grunt, sounds inferior and is somehow thirstier. Audi’s RS4, meanwhile, is only available as an estate and while it has a characterful naturally aspirated V8 and four-wheel-drive security, the Mercedes is more fun. Game, set and match to Affalterbach.