Compact super sedans and coupes — think BMW M3/M4, Audi RS5 — are my kryptonite. I admit to getting a little weak in the knees with big power and track-ready handling in a practical, daily-usable package.
I own a BMW 3-series, a 2008, so it’s getting on in years. I still love it but I’ve always secretly wished it were an M3. That generation used a V8 that spun all the way up to 8,400 r.p.m. Thrilling doesn’t even begin to describe it.
The Germans have been stuffing big engines into sensible cars for a long time now. Remember the Hammer? It was one of the first AMG-modified cars sold to the public and it took a heavily modified V8 from the Mercedes S-Class and stuffed it into the smaller W-124 E-Class. In 1986, it was the fastest passenger sedan in the world and it ate the Ferrari Testarossa’s lunch. I could only imagine the looks on the faces of Ferrari cognoscenti at the time.
In many ways, the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe and Sedan are reincarnations of the Hammer.
The Coupe as seen here is also the only C-Class with beautifully flared fenders and a wider rear track for that picture-perfect stance. Dipped in matte Graphite Grey MAGNO paint and sitting on staggered 19/20-inch forged black wheels, this C 63 S is your Batmobile fantasy come true. Closer to supercar status than you’d think a C-Class could ever be.
Available in sedan, coupe and convertible, the C 63 gets a 4-litre twin-turbo V8, hand-assembled by just one person. In non-S form, it makes 469 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. The C 63 S Coupe that Mercedes loaned me puts out the full 503 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, that latter figure coming fully online at just 2,000 rpm and sticking around till 5,000 giving it a very meaty mid-range. The power feels limitless. Transmission duties are handled by a 9-speed automatic that can be operated in full manual mode via paddles and can snap of shifts faster than you can blink.
The C 63 S is alarmingly fast and you’ll have little opportunity to use the power on normal streets. If you end up at a track it will do the 0-100 km/h sprint in under four seconds and it won’t stop accelerating until it hits an electronically limited 290 km/h. The 32-valve V8 is an engineering masterpiece from its closed-deck design to the zirconium alloy cylinder heads and sodium-filled valves. It makes gobs of lag-free power and sounds like a row of Gatling guns at full chat.
If any car in this segment makes its case purely from an emotional standpoint, this is it. If, like me, you’ve always been a fan of the BMW M3, a C 63 might ruin that for you. Sure the BMW might be slightly faster around a circuit, but that’s an irrelevant piece of data. For a fun road car, you want excitement and you want character, and the C 63 embodies that ethos better than anything else in its class.
For obvious reasons, it’s impossible to fully explore the handling envelope on the street but a C 63 S is capable of generating well over 1G of lateral grip in the corners. Steering is razor-sharp, and perfectly weighted and you get great road feel through the sport seats. This is an easy car to drive fast and it gives you tons of confidence behind the wheel.
There’s no all-wheel drive option here; power goes strictly to the rear but that really shouldn’t intimidate you. Sophisticated electronic nannies like the new AMG Dynamics system and AMG Traction Control keep things shiny side up. Now you can fine-tune just how much grip and electronic interference you’d like. Turn the dial up all the way and the C 63 will happily do lurid slides for as long as your tire budget lasts. Keep it set somewhere in the middle and you have a finely controllable smile-machine with a leather and carbon-fibre lined cabin.
Track ready handling comes at a price
It’s not all good news; never is. At low speeds the transmission is harsh and the stiff suspension can make it feel like an unladen semi-truck. Switching drive modes doesn’t make much of a difference. The pseudo-racing buckets don’t help either offering up all the comfort of sitting on a lumpy boulder but they make up for the lack of plushness with large bolsters that hold you in place even through the tightest of corners. Do the seats need to be so hardcore? Probably not, but they certainly fit in with the rest of the image.
Can you still take this Benz on a long drive? Absolutely! All the luxuries you expect from Mercedes are present: heated and cooled seats, dynamic cruise control, a thumping Burmester stereo, fully digital instrumentation, COMMAND infotainment, and yards of leather, suede, and carbon-fibre.
You even get seats in the back for small kids or small adults and a large trunk that will easily swallow your luggage and shopping.
The Bottom Line
The spirit of the Hammer runs strong in the C 63. While that retro-sweetheart is rare and can fetch more than $200K at auction, the $86,200 C 63 S Coupe is a bargain by comparison. In this segment of super sedans, all the players offer supercar performance, luxury, and daily usability. You can’t make a bad choice but the AMG stands apart. It feels special and that’s exactly what you want here.