Click for Larger Image

Story by Zerin Dube & Michael Mills
Photography by Zerin Dube

Price: $60,380 (est)
Major equipment: : 6.2L V8 engine, AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7-speed automatic transmission, AMG seating package: premium leather, memory seats, 4-way power steering column ($2,980 option), Premium Package 2: rear sunshade, bi-xenon headlamps ($1,100 option)

In the fleet: August 2008

Z. DUBE: Anyone who has known me long enough knows that I lust after family sedans that have been pumped up with a healthy dosage of horsepower. My love affair for sedans on steroids started with my former “B5”-generation Audi S4; it started life with the factory-provided 250 horsepower, but through some careful part sourcing and a bit of fiscal irresponsibility, my relatively calm family sedan turned into a 400+ horsepower monster. There’s nothing more satisfying than stomping a Corvette or Mustang Cobra in a four-door luxury sedan. Unfortunately, all this power came at the cost of a voided factory warranty. Pumping up a B5 S4 to those horsepower levels required that the engine be pulled out of the car, painstakingly tweaked, and then stuffed back in so it could generate enough heat to roast a pig. Back then though, this was the route you had to take if you wanted that level of performance in a sedan.

More on the C63, and on-track timing/impressions from Grand-Am/NASA GTS driver Michael Mills, after the jump.

Click for Larger Image

Thanks to a little bit of friendly intramural German mega-sedan competition, voiding warranties to get a mega-horsepower family car is a thing of the past. Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz will all cheerfully sell you a small sedan with 400-plus V8 horsepower, but the king of the class, packing half again as much displacement as the competition, is the monstrous C63 AMG. The mad scientists at AMG’s Affalterbach facility took a base C-Class sedan and stuffed it with a massive 6.2-liter V8 which produces a pavement shredding 451 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels by way of an AMG tuned 7-speed automatic transmission which Mercedes calls the Speedshift Plus.

Fitting the 6.2-liter V8 under the hood of the C63 was no simple plug and play procedure. All the sheet metal from the windshield forward is model-specific, with flared fenders to accommodate the 1.4-inch wider front track and a more aggressive hood that is nearly 3-inches longer than the one found on the standard C-Class. Front suspension geometry has been tweaked and fitted with a thicker sway-bar to improve steering response and stability. The rear track has also been widened by a half-inch to accommodate the wider 18-inch tires. An assortment of spoilers, vents, and gills sets the C63 apart in almost any crowd.

Click for Larger Image

Inside, it’s a slightly different story: mostly standard C-Class fare, with the exception of the extremely supportive AMG sport seats and the AMG logo on the 200-mph speedometer. As interiors go, it’s not bad — for a $35,000 C300. If you want a cabin more appropriate to a sedan costing nearly twice that much, Mercedes-Benz will cheerfully sell you an E550, but you won’t find any frills or upmarket ambience in the C63. Every bit of that markup from a base “C” to the AMG goes into the hardcore hardware. Drivers who are willing to overlook the occasional cheap-feeling plastic dashboard fitting will find their attitude amply rewarded once the big V8 fires up.

On the road, the C63 is an absolute delight to drive. The 7-speed automatic has three different shift modes available, with varying degrees of shifting speed and aggressiveness. Since the C63’s manual setting is more of a gimmick to me, I left the car in Sport mode for the majority of my trips. Under wide-open throttle, the C63 downshifts extremely quickly and the massive torque rockets the car to speeds that are well above the legal speed limits with ease while the exhaust sings a note so beautiful that I think I shed a tear or two while driving it. Though the C63’s suspension is fairly stiff, ride quality is still quite good even on bumpy Houston roads. As one would expect in a car with a giant V8 under the hood, observed fuel economy was fairly poor with a combined average of only 14.6 miles per gallon.

Click for Larger Image

All in all, the C63 AMG is my new favorite muscle-sedan on the market today. No other German sport sedan in this class has given me the rush of excitement while driving that I experienced in the C63 AMG. While it might not be quite as refined around the track as the new BMW M3, it’s definitely Mercedes-Benz’s best effort yet at building a track ready performance sedan.

M. MILLS: I loved the C63’s “DTM” styling and musclecar exhaust note, but none of that stuff matters once you pull out of the pit lane onto MSR Houston’s road course. After a few practice laps in the C63 with varying degrees of ESP, and several spins later, I finally found a setting that worked best. With ESP completely off, the C63 is simply too twitchy due to the lack of tire found on the rear end. Despite the 255/35R18 tires in the back and 235/40R18 tires found up front, the massive amount of torque was enough to spin the tires all the way around the track.

Once switched to ESP Sport Mode, the C63’s computers helped keep the car pointing straight. The computer helper’s actually kind of track-savvy — it’s not just for bad weather and ham-fisted club-crawlers. AMG cars tend to be better-suited for the street than the track, but this car is their best effort yet outside of the “Black Series”. Turn-in is sharp, and the C63 went exactly where pointed with the help of a few brake jabs and throttle blips. I finally managed a lap time of 1:50.1, four tenths faster than the V10 BMW M5 we had out on the track earlier in the day. You can compare these times with our times from Supercar Saturday and Imaginary Internet Millionaire Test, but the bottom line is that this sedan is well into sports-car territory around MSR.

Click for Larger Image

Braking was exceptional even after repeated use, thanks to the C63’s 14.2-inch cross-drilled and vented discs and six-piston calipers up front, and four-piston 13.0-inch disc brakes at the rear.

You really have to love a sedan that goes like the C63. It’s way into what we used to call “supercar” speed. The Achilles’ heel is low grip; it simply doesn’t have enough tire. Sure, it’s fun to throw it around and burn rubber, but with a little more cornering ability it would be a better-balanced car, which would make it just plain better. It’s a great street car… and it could be a really great track car, too, with tires to match the motor.

See the complete C63 gallery HERE.

Click for Larger Image

About author View all posts

Zerin Dube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *