by Sebastian Cenizo
When you think of Mercedes, words like luxury and elegance come to mind. When you think of AMG, the tone changes. Suddenly images of smoke billowing from the rear wheels and an engine powerful enough to send a man to the moon are the default thoughts. In the Mercedes-AMG C63 sedan, the luxury performance sedan billing fits perfectly and encompasses both preconceptions perfectly. A 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 produces up to 503 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, all of which is directed to the rear wheels with the aid of a nine-speed automatic gearbox. As good as it is, the C63's job is made a little easier by the withdrawal of the BMW M3 until the new G-series model arrives. Starting at $68,100, the current 2020 edition of the AMG brute is only a little more expensive than last year's model and gains a number of new features as we'll discuss below.
The 2020 model has seen some slight alterations following on from 2019's extensive refresh. For the new model year, 64-color ambient lighting along with illuminated AMG door sills are standard. Other than that, the C63 is essentially unchanged for 2020 as Mercedes develops a new C-Class. Emotion Start has also been made standard for all 2020 AMG models, meaning if you hold the upshift paddle when you start the car, the exhaust baffles open and the V8 roars to life with enough of a cacophony to wake your mother-in-law 32 miles away.
Brutish. Muscular. Aggressive. Menacing. All of these words can be used to describe the C63's design. Flared wheel arches, a bulging hood, a Panamericana grille, quad-exit exhausts, and AMG-specific wheels in 18-inch sizing all set the C63 apart from its non-AMG relatives. LED headlights and a special fender accent, as well as numerous AMG badges, also help the C63 stand out. If you opt for the S model, 19-inch wheels are thrown on, and various gloss black accents and badges subtly hint at the increased performance. To balance menace with luxury, a sunroof is standard with a panoramic version optional.
On a technical spec sheet, cars in this segment all look similar in terms of dimensions. Since this is an AMG, however, the C63 is a little wider and a touch shorter than the regular C-Class. Overall length measures 187.3 inches with a wheelbase of 111.8 inches. Width is 79.5 inches excluding the wing mirrors, and height is measured at 56.1 inches. Curb weights between the C63 and its more powerful S sibling vary, with the regular model weighing in at 3,874 lbs, while the upgraded model is even less likely to float away if you attach balloons to it, with a curb weight starting at 3,900 lbs on the dot.
The color palette is unchanged from that of the 2019 model, with six choices to choose from on both trims of the C63. Polar White is the solitary no-cost option, with four metallic options each adding $720 to your end cost. These are Selenite Grey, Iridium Silver, Brilliant Blue, and Obsidian Black. If you care to dare a little more and don't mind the increased cost of a designo paint choice, Diamond White metallic can be had for $1,515.
If you want to guarantee the best possible result when challenging that BMW M4 that lines up next to you at a traffic light, you'll want the C63 S. It uses the same 4.0-liter twin-turbo engine found in the regular model but produces even more power, with 503 hp, all of which goes to the rear wheels. Torque output is higher too, at 516 lb-ft. This allows the C63 S to be clocked at 3.8 seconds in the sprint from 0-60 mph, just ahead of the regular model's 3.9 seconds. However, the real difference lies in how fast the S is. Find a stretch of road long enough, safe enough, and legal enough, and you can top out at a ridiculous 180 mph. All while getting your butt warmed and listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons in perfect clarity. If such high speeds don't interest you, the regular C63 can be had, but this model is still something of a rocketship. With 469 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, this "lesser" version is limited to a 155 mph top speed.
Each of the two Mercedes-AMG C63 variants is powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, coupled to a nine-speed Speedshift MCT automatic transmission. Remember when people moaned about a turbocharged AMG, and especially the fact that the engine was smaller? Well, a hybrid could be the next source of propulsion for the C63, and it may not even be paired to a V8. Until that day comes, we'll relish the critically acclaimed power plant that we still have access to. A gem of an engine, the M177, as it's internally designated, is almost completely free of any semblance of turbo lag, providing almost instantaneous throttle response and a ridiculously usable breadth of torque. In the regular C63, it produces 469 horsepower and 10 more units of torque. In the C63 S, output is increased considerably, all the way to 503 horses and 516 lb-ft. Despite the extra thrills, this variant is just as responsive to stabs from your right foot, and thanks to excellent noise insulation, it's alarmingly easy to get into triple figures with total nonchalance. Naturally, the exhaust does provide drama if you foray into the middle and upper areas of the rev range, and the available active exhaust can heighten the drama further.
As good as the engine is, it's nothing without a good transmission. Fortunately, the nine-speed auto that accompanies the V8 in both models is silkily smooth and will hold onto gears when you want it to and shift early when you're cruising. If you choose to swap cogs manually via the steering-mounted paddles, your inputs are rewarded with immediate responses and no clunkiness.
As we mentioned at the outset, the thought of the AMG marque is usually accompanied by images of wanton tire destruction and more clouds than your local stanced-Subaru vape meet. Mercedes-AMG has no reason to be ashamed of the ability its C63 has to change the weather from sunny to overcast, but they do have lap times and bragging rights to worry about. As a result, the C63 can rip up the rear tires at will but is also dynamic enough to be a fast circuit racer if the mood takes you. Turn-in is direct and sharp, albeit devoid of feel at low speeds, and the rear wheels can be kept fully clothed in rubber so long as you're careful with the throttle and show this car respect. In addition, the brakes inspire confidence and are solid, with the appropriate pedal feel and easy modulation that makes it easy to push the C63 harder. If you want to really make the most of this car's abilities, however, carbon ceramic brakes can be specced for even more stopping power and less fade over extended periods of high intensity. True track enthusiasts will want to opt for the C63 S, however, as this model gets dynamic engine mounts as standard.
When you want to relax, the standard AMG Ride Control adaptive suspension damping helps you switch from a firm ride with minimal body roll to a relaxed and compliant one with plenty of comfort.
The C63 is a powerhouse of performance, but it still has to be relatively economical. Both the regular and the S variants, despite their differing power outputs, score the same EPA figures of 18/27/21 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. With a 17.4-gallon gas tank, this equates to an estimated mixed range of 365.4 miles. These EPA ratings are marginally better than those of rivals like the BMW M4 and Audi RS 5, vehicles with scores of 17/25/20 mpg and 17/26/20 mpg respectively.
The Mercedes-AMG C63 has a beautiful interior, with typically solid build quality and an abundance of high-end materials. With space for five and an impressive sound system, as well as numerous comfort features that include standard heated front seats, the C-Class has a luxury feel. Bright aluminum, slathers of Alcantara, and dashes of carbon fiber help offset the luxury feel with one of sportiness. Numerous technological enhancements are optionally available too, including a head-up display, a lap-timer, and a digital driver info display.
The C63 sedan seats five people. Although rear legroom and headroom are not the worst we've encountered, taller individuals are likely to squabble over the front seats. Fortunately, getting in and out to swap seats is simple, with large door openings and not much contortionism required. Whoever the lucky passenger is that gets to sit shotgun, that person gets standard heating as well as 14-way power adjustment and memory functions. These seats are comfy and supportive, but those who want a more confining feel may wish to opt for the available AMG Performance seats. These won't suit all body types, but for those that the seats do suit, support is immense. In the driver's seat, the view in all directions is good, and thanks to multiple available adjustments on the steering wheel, a good driving position is easily acquired.
As standard, the C63 features Mercedes' version of a leatherette, named MB-Tex. This comes in black and is contrasted with Dinamica, a faux suede, on the inserts. Breaking up the standard aluminum and gloss black accents is a choice of four different wood finishes on the trim accents or, if you're willing to spend $975, carbon fiber. Back to the upholstery, and Nappa leather is available at a cost of $2,590. This comes in plain black, Platinum White Pearl/Black, Red Pepper/Black, or Magma Grey/Black with yellow contrast stitching. Various combinations of Nappa and faux suede, Piano Black, or carbon fiber are available for the steering wheel too. The C63 S gets the same color options for its seats but features black Nappa leather as standard and offers the other choices at no charge.
The C63 is a luxury sedan that is meant to achieve both high speed and a decent level of practical capacity. Fortunately, it comes with 12.6 cubic feet of trunk space to suit that end, allowing owners to comfortably fit luggage for four with relative ease. Increasing convenience is a standard hands-free power trunk lid. Should you need to maximize the available space, the rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 split.
In the cabin, decently-sized door pockets feature recesses for drinks bottles, while the spot underneath the center armrest can house your wallet and keys. A useful space in the center console looks after your phone, while a quartet of cupholders is spread among the fore and aft sections of the cabin.
As standard, the C63 is big on luxury features, with the aforementioned 14-way power-adjustable heated front seats welcoming occupants. Also included are features like keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, launch control, an IWC Ingenieur analog clock, a sunroof, a hands-free power tailgate, 64-color ambient lighting, and illuminated AMG door sills. You also get adaptive dampers, a rearview camera, an electronic limited-slip differential, a drowsy driver alert, crosswind assist, LED headlights and taillights, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and Pre-Safe collision preparation. Optionally available are features like a surround-view camera with automatic parking, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and rear-collision preparation. A performance monitor with a lap timer is also available, as are a panoramic sunroof, a head-up display, a 12.3-inch digital cluster, and ventilation for the front seats.
A 10.25-inch display sits on the dash for access to the COMAND infotainment system, which you control via a rotary controller, touchpad, or the redundant steering wheel controls. As standard, this is hooked up to a 13-speaker Burmester sound system and features SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, and connections for Bluetooth and USB. Wireless charging, navigation, and an SD card slot are optionally available. Altogether, there can be no fault found with the speakers or the abilities of the infotainment system, but the slightly unintuitive interface is overdue for an update, and the MBUX system that has already been developed for other models would be a welcome addition for the C63.
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S has been subject to a recall issued on February 7th, 2020, for an inaccurate vehicle location for emergency services. Interestingly, this recall did not apply to the regular C63. However, it's worth noting that the C63 has been subject to numerous recalls over the years, with J.D. Power only giving the 2019 model a predicted reliability score of three stars out of five.
Fortunately, a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty covers the car from the date of purchase and covers the powertrain too.
While the NHTSA has not yet rated the C63 or the regular C-Class on which the AMG model is based, the IIHS has awarded the 2020 C-Class with a Top Safety Pick+ award, which is applicable to models with the adaptive headlights fitted. Fortunately, that feature is available on the C63 too.
As standard, the 2020 C63 and C63 S come with eight airbags, with protection for rear passengers and front knee airbags among the suite. Also included are features like crosswind assist, a drowsy driver monitor, collision preparation, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. A rearview camera and the usual traction and stability management systems also feature, but those who want full peace-of-mind can avail themselves of options like a surround-view camera, lane-keep assist, a head-up display, rear-collision preparation, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and adaptive LED headlights.
With the demise of the BMW M3, the current C-Class has few direct rivals from Europe, but even towards the twilight of its time with us, the C63 is an intoxicatingly powerful and ridiculously fast four-door luxury sedan with attractive styling and a gorgeous interior. While the infotainment system is not particularly brilliant, the Burmester sound system, standard seats, adaptive suspension, and smooth gearbox are all brilliant. Playing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde comes naturally to the C63, a car that is happy to potter along quietly and will just as excitedly snap your neck as it surges towards the horizon or obliterates its rear tires at any opportunity. Even though it's been with us for some time, the C63 commands respect for its impressive performance ability and its duality of purpose. It has its foibles but, in a way, they give the C63 character, and the sound of that glorious V8 should be savored while it's still available.
The 2020 C63 starts at a base price of $68,100 before its destination fee of $995. The more powerful C63 S model is subject to the same fees and taxes that apply to the base model and starts at $75,700. This model, when fully loaded with available options and features, will set you back around $97,000.
The C63 is available in two trim levels: C63 and C63 S. These two trims are largely the same and both feature a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, a nine-speed automatic gearbox, and rear-wheel propulsion.
The base C63 features synthetic leather and faux suede seats, as well as a sunroof, 18-inch wheels with six-piston brake calipers in front that are painted gray, a pair of heated 14-way power-adjustable front seats, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a hands-free power trunk lid, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, and a 13-speaker Burmester sound system. Its engine produces 469 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque.
The C63 S is more powerful, with 503 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. It rides on 19-inch wheels and features upgraded brakes with red calipers. A number of subtle badges and accents help set it apart, and the steering wheel features an AMG drive mode selector with Race mode as standard. Dynamic engine mounts are also added for improved handling. Other enhancements include standard Nappa leather upholstery and a special steering wheel trimmed in Nappa and faux suede as standard.
As always, a number of options are available that range from the useful to the ludicrous. One that falls into the latter category is an illuminated three-pointed star badge for the front grille that costs $450. A more practical use of your money would be the Exterior Lighting package. For $900, this adds adaptive LED headlights with adaptive high beams. Those who are more interested in spicing up the racy looks of the C63 may wish to spend $1,750 on a carbon fiber package that adds carbon wing mirrors and a carbon trunk spoiler. Comfort features include ventilated front seats for $450, but those who would prefer to upgrade the safety of their vehicle can get the Driver Assistance package for $1,700. This adds adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and a host of other safety enhancements. If you want carbon-ceramic brakes to maximize performance, you can only get these on the C63 S, where they are a $5,450 option.
The base C63 is an impressive and rapid machine, but for its standard leather, increased power, heightened top speed, and enhanced handling ability, we'd have to opt for the more expensive C63 S. In addition to a better interior and dynamic engine mounts, the C63 S also boasts a Race mode, and if that doesn't excite you, nothing will. Along with the base model's adaptive suspension and other comfort features, this enhanced mode allows you to truly feel like a professional driver. To be fair, if you're rubbish behind the wheel, this mode will also humble you, as everything is sharpened and the stability control is pared back. Having the option to go from ultra-quiet and comfy to full-on racecar is worth every penny, and that's why the S is the better car.
Sibling rivalry. It makes one stronger and more competitive, but sometimes it also means giving up the best stuff to the dominant family member. In the case of the C63, its big brother is the E63 S 4Matic. This model only comes as an S variant, but its 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is switchable. This means that when you want to be a lunatic, you can slip and slide on the track and when you want to drive to the shops in the middle of a blizzard, you don't have to borrow the neighbor's Jeep. Also powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, the E63 S produces a ridiculous 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque. The interior is similar to that of the C63, but it boasts a beautiful dual-screen driver-info/infotainment setup. It's naturally bigger too, making it more comfortable for occupants and more capacious in the trunk. However, it costs a lot more too, with a starting price exceeding $107,000. Depending on budget and how comfortable you are with larger cars, the E63 S may be off the cards, but we'd definitely consider it just as good if not better than the C63.
This is another pricey comparison. The RS5 Sportback starts at $74,200, but it's been recently refreshed and boasts definitively modern styling. Despite its increased price, this quattro all-wheel-drive model is not as powerful as a C63. Powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6, the RS5 generates 444 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. However, it has a middling top speed of 155 mph in base form (although it's worth noting that the regular C63 has the same top speed), and is more spacious in the back as well as more practical too. Thanks to its hatch-like tailgate, the RS5 Sportback has 11.6 cubic feet of volume. Although this is below the C63's 12.6 cubes, the Sportback has a much wider opening that allows you to fit larger items through the back. With the rear seats folded, cargo volume expands to 35 cubes. All that is good and well, but when it comes to a car like this, it's the heart that makes the decisions, and we can't help but feel that the new RS5 may be a bit boring compared to the insane C63.