£61,195 - £70,540 Price range
When one thinks of super saloons, Mercedes immediately springs to mind. Its AMG tuning arm has produced some frankly bonkers creations over the years, squeezing large engines into relatively unassuming-looking executive cars.
The Mercedes-AMG C63 is, thanks to a shake-up in Mercedes’ naming conventions, the car formerly known as the Mercedes C63 AMG. In order to combine even more startling performance with a little added efficiency, the latest C63 is the first C-Class-based performance model to rely on turbochargers.
It isn’t the only performance saloon to switch to a smaller, turbocharged engine either. The BMW M3 has done the same thing, yet even from initial tests one reviewer states that the new C63 is ‘perhaps more than ever before the car you would choose over the BMW M3′. The Mercedes is less aggressive looking, which will sway you one way or the other depending on how loudly you want to shout about your horsepower.
Traditionally, the M3 has always been the car to go for it you’re looking for the ultimate thrills. However, at a time when some testers suggest that the new model can’t quite live up to its predecessors – while the current iteration of the C63 is perhaps the best ever – then the AMG is even more compelling than before.
A performance sedan such as this wouldn’t be much use if it wasn’t usable everyday, and in that respect the C63 lives up to the task. Refinement is first rate, the ride is firm but never harsh, and aside from slightly tight headroom in the rear, it’s a spacious, practical car.
Unlike the M3, a more practical estate version is also available. That puts the Merc in direct competition with the Audi RS4. The Audi possesses a lovely interior and the security of four-wheel-drive performance. However, critics say that the ride is a little too harsh, while in terms of outright handling it can’t quite match the BMW or the Mercedes.
The standard C-Class interior is a lovely place to sit, and although the changes to the C63 aren’t drastic, they do enough to make the occupants feel even more special. Ahead of the driver sits a flat-bottomed steering wheel – whose rim is slightly too thick for some – and revised dials with redesigned graphics. Sports seats replace the regular items, while flashes of carbon fibre hint at the sporting potential. The likes of the optional Burmester sound system add a little class, too. The C63’s cabin, as one tester puts it, looks “special without being gaudy or overdone”.
Mercedes C63 AMG Interior space
As with the regular C-Class, front passenger space is more than adequate, though some testers suggest that the rear is perhaps a little more cramped than you’d expect – the sloping rear roofline is to blame for that. Otherwise, accommodation is excellent. The front sports seats are fantastic, too.
Mercedes C63 AMG Boot space
For a car offering this type of performance, the C63 fares well in the practicality stakes. A 480-litre boot is more than adequate for most, while the cabin is full of generous cubby holes and large door bins.
The C63 has undertaken extensive chassis changes over the standard C-Class to help it cope with the extra performance. Forged aluminium suspension components are both stronger and lighter than the standard items, while the springs, dampers and anti-roll bars have all been heavily re-worked.
Critics’ first impressions of the C63 are of a car that’s ‘endowed with sheer performance’, yet is happy to trundle around town shifting through its seven-speed automatic gearbox in a ‘smooth and accommodating’ manner – although it’s not as quick as double-clutch units in some rival cars such as the Audi RS4 Avant.
Reviewers think that it’s excellent in the handling department too, with ‘new-found levels of agility’ and decent levels of comfort for a sporty car, meaning it won’t leave you in agony on long journeys, although there are complaints about the amount of road noise getting into the cabin. One tester says that the car’s ‘hooligan behaviour doesn’t come at the expense of everyday usability’ – ideal for those who want some comfort to compliment their performance.
The old car was known for its giant 6.2-litre naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) V8, giving a normal-looking saloon true supercar-rivalling speed and power. The latest version was introduced in early 2015, making use of a smaller 4.0-litre V8, but uses two turbochargers to more than make up for the drop in engine size. It’s cleverly designed, too – the turbos sit within the V shape of the engine, which means the whole unit is more compact, allowing it to sit further back in the engine bay to the benefit of weight distribution and to make it more responsive.
The headline performance figures are 475hp and 470lb ft – it’s 18hp more powerful than the old car, helping it roar its way to 62mph from a standstill in just 4.1 seconds. The S model offers an even more thunderous 510hp and 516lb-ft, knocks one tenth from the 0-62mph time, and provides even more devastating in-gear flexibility.
The downsized engine means it’s far more economical than the old car too; Mercedes optimistically claims a combined economy of 34.5mpg, and one tester managed to eke out 27.4mpg on the motorway – a massive improvement on the old 6.2-litre car.
For the performance and luxury on offer, it’s hard to grumble about the near-£60,000 starting price. It is, however, about £3,000 pricier than the basic M3. The more powerful S model costs an extra £6,750, adding larger alloy wheels, more figure-hugging sports seats, larger brakes and that power boost. Those looking for a little extra practicality will be pleased to know that an estate version is also available, priced £1,200 higher than the equivalent saloon.
Do we have any major criticisms? Not really. Some might like their 500-plus horsepower super saloon to look a little more outlandish, but other than that there is little to find fault with. The engine is mighty, the handling is engaging, and the electric power steering system – a real let down of the M3 – is much more of a success.