The Mercedes AMG C63 has a superb V8 petrol engine that brings big performance and raucous soundtrack, but a BMW M3 will be quicker around a race track
Think Mercedes AMG C63 and a couple of things spring instantly to the mind of any performance car enthusiast: a monumental V8 engine and an exhaust note like a machine gun. For years the C63 has done battle with other super saloons such as the BMW M3 and Audi RS4, but also faces competition more recently from the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
This generation of the Mercedes AMG C63 saloon was first launched in 2015 but has been given a facelift for 2018. The changes begin outside with a new grille – the slats of which now run vertically rather than horizontally – and different front air inlets. Then there are new alloy wheel designs in both 18 and 19-inch sizes, a revised rear diffuser and different sports exhaust tips.
Inside you’ll find a new nappa leather sports steering wheel with redesigned multifunction buttons and selectors for the car’s driving modes and traction control settings. There’s also a new 12.3-inch digital cockpit which swaps the car’s standard analogue dials for a more visually appealing digital set that’s crammed with customisable information.
Other than that, the Mercedes AMG C63 saloon is familiar inside, with a dashboard design that is more striking than that in an Audi RS4 or BMW M3, but prodding and poking it reveals the Audi’s is the more solidly constructed.
As standard the Mercedes AMG C63 saloon comes with a 10.3-inch infotainment display controlled via a touchpad and menu shortcut buttons between the front seats. The system is visually impressive, but you’ll have an easier time navigating the menus in an Audi RS4 and BMW M3 than either of the Merc’s systems, with their more logical menu structures and better rotary dial controllers.
As with more humdrum versions of the Mercedes C-Class saloon, front passenger space is more than adequate, though the driving position is very slightly skewed on right hand drive cars. At least the C63’s standard sports seats are superbly figure hugging and the optional (and expensive) Performance seats are more impressive still.
Taller adults will find the rear is a little more cramped than you’d expect, and more importantly, than in an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – the Merc’s sloping rear roofline is to blame for that. Furthermore, the C63 saloon’s 435-litre boot is more than adequate for most, but is less than the capacity of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and BMW M3 that both have 480-litre boots.
Standard equipment isn’t a worry, though. 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, ambient interior lighting, keyless entry and start, wireless phone charging and electric memory front seats are all included. Start getting busy with the options list, though, and things can quickly get out of hand.
The latest C63 is in a different league to its predecessors.
The standard Mercedes AMG C63 saloon gets a 476hp version of Mercedes’ 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine while going for the more powerful C63 S version gets 510hp. The difference in 0-62mph sprint times is frankly negligible – the S manages it in 4.0 seconds, while the standard C63 is just a tenth of a second behind it.
In both its forms Mercedes’ turbocharged V8 is a fantastic engine, pulling hard from low revs and spinning willingly to a thunderous crescendo at its redline. A nine-speed automatic gearbox is standard which is quick to react to manual changes via the wheel-mounted paddles, yet flicks intelligently between gears when left in auto mode.
The C63 is a relatively heavy car, but it still manages to change direction with impressive urgency, thanks in part to a standard rear electronic differential that juggles power to find the most purchase on the road surface and active engine mounts that hold the engine more firmly in place while cornering hard. There are no less than six driving modes to choose between, too, starting with the most cautious Slippery mode and topping out with the frankly bonkers Race.
Moving up through the modes makes the steering heavier, the accelerator and gearbox more responsive, the suspension firmer and the traction control systems more relaxed. In fact, there are nine settings for how big a safety net you’d like with the traction control when pushing hard. Nine!
The bottom line is that there’s massive scope for fun with the C63’s tail-happy approach to cornering with its safety nets switched off, but put your sensible hat on and go for a quick lap and the C63 simply doesn’t steer as well, nor grip as hard as a BMW M3.
Dial everything back to Comfort mode, though, and the Mercedes AMG C63 plays the relaxing cruiser better than said alternative. Sure, there’s a bit of tyre noise at high speeds, but there’s little wind noise and the car’s suspension is supple enough to ensure things stay comfortable at the same time.
The Mercedes AMG C63 saloon is unlikely to beat a BMW M3 around a racetrack, then, and it isn’t as spacious or practical as an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. It comes extremely close on both counts, though, and there is simply no beating its brilliant V8 engine. That alone is a very good reason for buying one.