by Michael Butler
People have always loved a good convertible Mercedes-Benz, especially when they're fast. The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible follows in a long line of fast drop-top Mercs, and thanks to years of development, it's one of the best compact performance execs on the road today. Power comes from a potent twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 with 469 horsepower in base guise and 503 hp in S trim, and doles out large dollops of midrange torque to get the C63 to sixty in the low four-second range. Mercedes-AMG has done a good job of packaging the drop-top C63 in a way that doesn't compromise interior space too much, and as always, the interior feels refined and robust. It won't be the fastest around a track, and the BMW M4 might be a bit of a sharper tool, but the Merc feels well balanced and is arguably the better-looking car. The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible starts at an MSRP of $77,300, but as the cheapest way of getting behind a drop-top V8 AMG, it's worth every penny.
Mercedes-AMG has kept things more or less the same for 2020 models, but a few equipment changes have taken place to keep the C63 Convertible relevant in the new decade. All new C63 Convertibles now come with a standard Aircap feature that cocoons the occupants of the car in a wind-free bubble thanks to deflectors. The C63 Convertible also receives a set of power-folding side-view mirrors, and Iridium Silver Metallic joins the color palette.
The C63 Convertible is a shapely thing with beautiful lines, but AMG has added some of their unique spice to give the exterior some extra bite. In the front, the AMG Panamericana grille is flanked by a pair of LED headlights, and the wheels (18 inches on the base and 19 on the C63 S) are tucked beneath widened wheel arches. The soft top makes use of three layers to improve cabin acoustics and can be lowered at speeds of up to 31 mph - it takes only take 20 seconds to do its thing.
This compact executive performance convertible is on the larger side of things when compared to its rivals the BMW M4 Convertible and Jaguar F-Type Convertible. Total length comes in at 187.1 inches, which is over 11 inches longer than the Jaguar. With the side mirrors included, the C63 sits 79.4 inches wide and stands 55.3 inches tall. The C63 AMG rolls on a 111.8-inch wheelbase and has a ground clearance of four inches. The C63 weighs in with a curb weight of 4,242 lbs, growing to 4,255 for the S.
Lurking behind that beautifully sculpted hood lies the Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible's greatest party trick; a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 bi-turbo engine with a compression ratio of 10.5:1, a redline of 7,000 rpm and enough power to see off most hot hatches, although you can never tell what they're packing these days. Power output levels read as follows: 469 hp between 5,500 and 6,250 rpm and a chunky 479 lb-ft of torque between 1,750 and 4,500 rpm. The C63 S ups that power to 503 hp between 5,500 and 6,250 rpm, and offers 516 lb-ft of torque between 2,000 and 4,500 rpm. That's a wide powerband, which translates to serious mid-range acceleration. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a nine-speed AMG Speedshift automatic transmission. This 'box is responsive enough, but suits the more laid back personality of the convertible, lacking the quickfire shifts of a DCT as found in the M4. The C63 Convertible will sprint to 60 mph in only four seconds, and the S will dip into the three-second range by a tenth of a second.
AMG has worked their magic on the C63 Convertible range: there's minimal scuttle shake, and the car feels responsive and pointy, but can't match the sharp BMW M4 Convertible in the dynamics department. Mercedes-AMG fitted the C63 and C63 S with four-wheel independent, AMG Ride Control sport suspension with three-stage damping, which allows the driver to cruise around in comfort mode when out and about (it's still a rather stiff drive) or tune it all the way up to Race mode, where the suspension stiffens up, and the traction control system gives the driver a free pass. The end result is a convertible that feels planted, eager to take on corners and offers excellent responses to steering inputs, but can feel overly stiff when cruising around at suburban speed limits.
If you were to tell a Mercedes-Benz engineer in the nineties or even the early 2000s that they would be building 503-hp twin-turbo V8 C-Class Convertibles with decent fuel economy in the year 2020, they would have probably shrugged it off as impossible, but lo and behold, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible won't guzzle gas nearly as fast as you'd think. The EPA rates the C63 Convertible at 17/24/20 mpg city/highway/combined, matching the BMW's 17/25/20 mpg. The Jaguar F-Type Convertible is the heaviest drinker here with a gas mileage figure of 16/24/18 mpg. The S model shares the same figures despite being more powerful. The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible is fitted with a 17.4-gallon fuel tank, which should enable the C63 to travel for up to 348 miles before needing a top-up, although the C63 settles for nothing less than premium unleaded gasoline.
Despite losing its roof, the Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible has enough interior space to seat four average-sized adults in comfort. Front passengers will appreciate the 38.8 inches of headroom, which is more than enough for six-footers, and with 42 inches of legroom, most will stretch out comfortably. In the rear, things are more spacious than you'd expect from a compact executive convertible; you get 35.6 inches of headroom and 32 inches of legroom - it's not great, but shorter adults - or at least teenagers - will be able to fit without feeling overly cramped on short journeys.
Compact executive convertibles aren't renowned for offering the most impressive levels of trunk and cargo space, but as a four-seater, the C63 should be able to carry enough baggage for at least two of the four passengers on board. Mercedes-AMG gives a figure of 8.8 cubic feet when the top is up; that's a class-leading amount of space. The BMW M4 manages 7.8 cubic feet while the Jaguar F-Type Convertible only gets 7.3. Small-item storage is adequate for front-seat passengers: you get a glovebox, center armrest storage bin, and a small storage nook in front of the infotainment dial, while the rear passengers get a fold-out armrest between the seats.
There's no doubt about it: the 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible is quite the luxury car and offers an impressive amount of standard features inside and out; but a lot is also left to the options list, which can get pricey. The exterior of the C63 features LED headlights, an illuminated entry system, new standard power-folding side mirrors, and a remote opening system for the windows and soft top. Step inside the C63 and find the cabin illuminated by 64-color ambient interior lighting. The heated front power seats get 14-way adjustability with memory, and things are heated and cooled via a two-zone automatic climate control system. Small luxuries such as extendable sun visors, a HomeLink garage door opener, and an Airscarf neck-level heating system nicely rounds up the standard premium offering.
Mercedes-AMG has upped their game significantly in past years, and the infotainment system in the 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible is proof of that. All the conceivable features you'd expect from a premium car in 2020 are present. One of the first things you notice when sitting in the front of the C63 is the massive 10.25-inch high-resolution center display that lights up in vivid color and integrates contemporary services such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth audio streaming, dual USB audio ports, an HD Radio receiver, and SiriusXM with a six-month trial subscription. An optional AMG race timer keeps track of your personal best times from your soon to be ex-wife's house to your side-meal floozy, all while a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system with a FrontBass booster fills the cabin with clear bass and treble tones.
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible is recall-free so far for 2020, but has been subject to two minor recalls in the past year. Issues such as lock nuts that could break on the steering rack and the brake assist system not engaging were some of the more serious recalls. Mercedes-AMG covers the C63 with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which includes corrosion, drivetrain, and roadside assistance.
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible is a very niche model in the wider C-Class family and has therefore not been individually tested by the NHTSA or IIHS. But its sibling, the standard C-Class Sedan, has been extensively tested by both, and returned class-leading results, with the IIHS even awarding the 2019 C-Class with a Top Safety Pick Plus award. Standard safety features on the C63 include cross-wind and blind-spot assist as well as adaptive braking and ten airbags.
We're living in an age where convertible performance cars are expected to perform as well as their hard-top siblings, despite their inherent weight and structural disadvantages. The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible is one such car; in tin-top form, the C63 is a competent German muscle car, especially the more potent S model, but was never destined to be one of the sharpest handling machines in its class. Instead, it goes for a balance between comfort, ease of driving and impressive straight-line gusto, while still maintaining composure through the bends. The convertible takes this to the next level by offering a wind-in-your-hair experience, all the while retaining much of the poise and capability we love in the hard-top. The ride might be overly stiff for some, but the C63 Convertible is otherwise a great everyday performance car that, despite having a power-folding roof, offers good space for four adults, and still has enough trunk space for a decent grocery trip. The twin-turbo V8 engine is sensational, and the interior is as refined as you're going to get in this class. It's a solid all-round package from Mercedes-AMG.
The C63 Convertible is a properly fast and capable performance car and features all of the modern luxuries you'd expect from a car in this class. So what will you pay for the privilege of driving one of these down to your local driving range? Mercedes-AMG will ask for $77,300 of your hard-earned dollars for the standard car, and $84,900 for the S, which excludes a destination charge of $995, taxes, title, and registration. The BMW M4 starts at an equal $77,650, but to buy a Jaguar F-Type that can match the abilities of these cars, you'll have to stretch for the 380-hp supercharged V6 model, which goes for $87,400.
The C63 Convertible is available in two trim levels, with the C63 S being the most powerful and expensive. Both cars come with a good amount of features, but you can have a look at the extensive options list if you want something more unique. We would go with the C63: you won't miss the extra power of the S, and you can spend the money you save on kitting it out with cool features. Mercedes-AMG offers a healthy number of optional packages that will see the C63 Convertible's asking price shoot through the roof. We would have one in the $720 Selenite Grey Metallic, with the AMG carbon-fiber interior package and throw in the driver assistance package, which adds active steering assist, active braking assists with cross-traffic function, as well as active lane-change assist, speed-limit assist and route-based speed adaptation. It might also be worthwhile getting an additional maintenance plan, which starts from $1,490 for a two-year/20,000-mile package.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz have been mortal enemies for decades, and it has always been interesting to see how they go about building cars that compete in the same classes. BMW tends to create more driver-focused machines, while Mercedes-Benz has preferred the more laid back luxury approach. The BMW M4 is a good example of this ethos: its 3.0-liter BMW M twin-turbo inline six-cylinder doesn't have the rough and ready feel of the Merc's V8 but delivers smooth and consistent power. Its 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque are significantly less than the C63 and C63 S, and its sprint time of 4.4 seconds to sixty reflects that. The C63 might have a larger and more powerful engine, but both will do 20 mpg on a combined cycle. On the inside, the BMW offers more space but doesn't feel as sumptuous as the Merc; instead it feels clinical and clean cut. Where the BMW really shines is on track, where it feels sharper and more intuitive. At the end of the day, neither of these cars is going to be track day stars, and both are equally priced at around $77,000, so we'd rather go with the C63, which looks and feels more laid back.
Firstly it should be said that the Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible offers space for two more human beings than the F-Type, which is strictly a two-seater sports car: that will be the most significant deciding factor for most looking to buy in this price range. The F-Type has been around for a while now, and its good and bad traits are well-known. To be genuinely competitive in terms of performance, you'll have to stretch for the 380-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V6, at least, which costs over $10,000 more than the Merc - another big factor to consider. The Jaguar is a beautiful car to look at and drive, and that supercharged V6 engine must be one of the best sounding modern performance engines on offer. Where the Jaguar falls short is in terms of interior space and overall practicality. If you're happy with only having one open seat next to you, then great, the Jaguar will do. But the Mercedes-AMG C63 Convertible offers two extra seats, goes just as well, arguably looks as good, and costs $10,000 less. Let your heart do the talking here.