AMG made its mark in 1987 with the Hammer; a 355 horsepower tire-melting luxury sedan that, fitting to its name, pounded every exotic performance car of the day.
Since then, the performance brand has expanded into a full model line which includes everything from 4-cylinder hatchbacks to 12-cylinder SUVs.
Despite the evolution, AMG hasn’t lost its touch for stuffing regular Mercedes models full of exceedingly powerful engines and other go-fast bits. The Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a perfect example of this ethos.
The C63 is available as both a sedan and coupe, with my test car being the latter. Coupes are well-known for being less practical yet more expensive than their sedan counterparts. The only real reason to choose one is for the styling, and the C63 Coupe is quite a looker. Not only is it more attractive than its sedan cousin, its alluring design mimics that of the far more expensive S-Class Coupe, only on a smaller scale.
Opening the door reveals what is, without a doubt, one of the most richly-appointed interiors in the segment. One glimpse of the network of fine leather, aluminum, carbon, and alcantara is enough to admire the incredible attention that went into every detail. Here again, the parallels with the S-Class are impossible to ignore. The infotainment system has longer than normal learning curve, but it’s pretty decent once you get used to it. A little more padding on the otherwise excellent AMG sport seats wouldn’t hurt though for those longer drives.
The C63 feels equal parts luxury car and performance car, and switching between the two is as easy as turning the drive mode selector. In Comfort mode, the exhaust is muted, the 7-speed transmission takes a leisurely approach to gear changes, and the ride is well-sorted over all but the worst bumps in the road. Race mode takes things to the other extreme and turns the C63 into a firm, edgy, race car. Individual mode, with the suspension left in Comfort and everything else in Sport+ turned out to be my favorite combination. The car felt all fizzy and full of character, but with a properly comfortable ride that an M3 could only dream of.
BMW and Alfa Romeo make a convincing case for 6-cylinder power these days, but there’s nothing quite like a proper V8. The twin-turbocharged 4.0L engine is the C63’s showpiece. It produces a pavement eating 503 horsepower and 479lb-ft of torque. Stabbing the throttle results in neck-snapping acceleration with the tires left begging for mercy. Unlike in some rivals, turbocharging doesn’t seem to have diminished the noise and overall character in any way. The raucous exhaust note is as mean and vicious as any American muscle car. Perhaps more so. The sounds in Sport+ mode right from startup all the way up to redline are just spine-tingling. This may very well be the best boosted V8 on the market.
On top of the already high-performance C63, the S model adds massive brakes, dynamic engine mounts, an electronic limited-slip differential, and the Race setting on the drive mode selector. The coupe even uses a unique rear axle setup from the sedan for added agility, and it certainly seems to work. The M3 fanatics will be quick to point out that Mercedes-AMG cars lack that razor-sharp precision and chassis finesse of a BMW M product. That may be true, particularly at 10/10ths on a track, but the C63 is more fun where it counts; in the day-to-day drive where 99.9 percent of time is spent. On the road, any minor dynamic deficiencies simply fade into insignificance thanks to the all-dominating engine and that menacing exhaust note.
Aside from an irritating engine start/stop system (that can fortunately be switched off) and an alarming thirst for fuel, the Mercedes-AMG C63 S is near impossible to fault. It’s just about the best way to spend $85,800, or $96,490 as tested here. The idea that you can get the same V8 engine as the nearly twice as expensive AMG GT supercar in a sedate, under the radar C-Class has huge appeal. The outrageous noise and over-the-top power of the engine adds a level of drama and excitement unmatched by anything in this class. But the fact that it combines that monstrous performance with equal parts luxury and comfort is what really makes it a standout. If that’s a formula that resonates with you, Mercedes-AMG has your ride.