by Roger Biermann
The 2019 AMG C63 and AMG C63 S are the high-performance variants of the classic Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is traditionally AMG's best selling range. Though classified as a compact luxury coupe, the AMG C63 doesn't conform to the trend of downsizing. Equipped with a 4.0-liter bi-turbocharged V8 the base C63 manages outputs of 469 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque while the AMG C63 S dials things up to 503hp and 516 lb-ft. Quicker than its sedan counterpart by one-tenth of a second, 0-60 mph arises in 3.7 seconds, making it nearly half a second quicker than chief rival - the BMW M4. Boasting a bespoke rear suspension setup to differentiate it from the C63 sedan, can the coupe live up to the razor-sharp expectations of the segment?
The AMG C63 advances into 2019 receiving a moderate facelift and a few feature upgrades. As part of the facelift, the C63 gets the new Panamericana grille design being rolled out across the AMG range, along with updated front and rear bumpers, new exhaust finishers in high-gloss chrome, and restyled LED head and taillights. It also receives a new AMG-designed sports steering wheel, new interior cosmetic options, and the AMG Dynamic Drive system receives an additional drive mode for rain-and-snow-optimized settings, labeled Slippery. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality are now standard.
While it's debatable whether Mercedes-Benz's sedan design fits with the aggression of an AMG, the coupe's most certainly fits the bill. The C63 Coupe is more than just a sedan with the back doors chopped off, and the rear end is all the proof you need to support that point. While the Quad-AMG tailpipes are a standard fixture, the taillights differ completely from the sedan, as do the wider rear haunches. Filling subtly flared wheel arches are 18-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels on the base C63, while the C63 S gets 19-inch twin five-spoke items. 2019's mid-cycle refresh sees an almost all-new face for the C63 Coupe, with the now-signature AMG Panamericana grille taking center stage with its vertical slats looking like prison bars caging in the unruly V8. Flanking the grille are newly designed LED headlights, while the front splitter and lower front bumper have been remolded as well.
Built on the same platform as the C63 sedan, the compact luxury coupe rides on the same 111.8-inch wheelbase but measures 0.2 inches shorter at 187.1 inches. With the mirrors taken out of the equation, the Coupe measures substantially wider at 73.9 inches to the sedans comparably skinny 60.9, indicative of the coupe's widened rear track and bespoke rear suspension. It's lower to the ground than its four-door sibling too, standing just 55.2 inches tall to the sedan's 56.1. Curiously, while the conversion from sedan to coupe sees most rivals shed pounds, the C63 gains weight in the transition. 235 lbs up on the base C63 sedan, the Coupe tips the scales at a porky 4,109 lbs, while the C63 S gains 25 lbs more at 4,134 lbs overall.
At the heart of any true AMG-badged Mercedes lies a handcrafted heart, built with the one man, one engine philosophy that sees a single engineer assemble an AMG motor from start to the first time it fires up. In the case of the C63 Coupe, it's a 4.0-liter V8 housing two turbochargers in a hot-vee configuration, screaming rebellion in the face of manufacturers downsizing to six-cylinder alternatives. In base guise, it develops 469 hp and 479 lb-ft - by no means meager figures - but in its most wicked state of tune, the C63 S Coupe delivers 503 hp and 516 lb-ft. Both derivatives use the same AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic transmission, and in true compact luxury coupe fashion, the drive is sent to the rear axle. 0-60 takes 3.7 seconds in C63 S guise, with the standard model only a tenth of a second behind.
The V8 engine and AMG performance exhaust system work in unison not only to create a truly visceral soundtrack but also connect the driver to the core of the car. With no perceptible turbo-lag and instantaneous thunder at every throttle application, the V8 tugs at the heartstrings of every driving enthusiast, while delivering bone-crushing performance that establishes the C63 Coupe as a true German muscle car. The transmission delivers precise and fluent shifts, and when hustling down a twisty road will rush up and down the gears impeccably. It might not be as quick at the act as a modern dual-clutch, but it's smoother and easier to live with, while just as effective at full blast.
Simplify, then add lightness - that was the creed of Colin Chapman at the helm of Lotus and it was an ethos that helped build some of the finest handling sports cars of all time. But Mercedes-AMG is a far cry from Lotus, and the extra 200+ lbs the C63 has gained in its transition from sedan to coupe is a testament to that. But despite packing on the pounds, the Coupe is the better of the two to drive. It boasts a rear suspension exclusive to the two-door version, along with a wider track and a lower center of gravity. These aspects matter more than weight in the case of the compact AMG, giving it more grip and natural balance than the already super-composed four-door.
There's grip in abundance from the broad rear rubber, and the steering feels fluid and intuitive without being overbearing. In comfort-biased drive modes, it even errs on the side of being too light, but it weights up naturally through corners and as you pile on the speed. It communicates deftly without overloading the senses, giving the C63 an air of precision while still maintaining a sense of luxury.
The Coupe is sprung firmer than the sedan, and it's noticeable over bigger bumps for the most part, where the body rises and falls more sharply with the changing surface. But it flows well and irons out most smaller imperfections, particularly with the adaptive dampers in the softest of their three modes. The most hardcore is best reserved for only the most mirror-smooth of surfaces, as it simply overwhelms the C63 with rattles that loosen every filling you've ever received in your life. But regardless of the damper mode, one thing can't be avoided: with the widened rear track, the C63 Coupe tends to tramline and track camber a little too aggressively. It makes tackling a twisty road a wrestling match as you try to balance steering inputs with suspension response and changes in the surface beneath you, all while trying not to overwhelm the rear tires with an eruption of torque from the eager V8.
It doesn't have the alacrity of an M4, and it's certainly a more serious beast, but there's immense pleasure to be had when things come together in the C63 Coupe that simply can't be had from behind the wheel of the BMW. It's a more emotional car to drive, and a large part of that comes down to the soulfulness of the V8 under its hood.
Gas mileage estimates from the 2019 AMG C63 Coupe twins are reasonable, surprisingly matching - and in some cases beating - core rivals, despite the extra liter of displacement and the two extra cylinders that need feeding. With EPA estimates of 17/26/20 mpg city/highway/combined on both the base and S derivatives and with a full 17.4-gallon tank of premium unleaded gas, sedate driving should yield around 348 miles of range in mixed conditions. Of course, you'll need to stay off the loud pedal to achieve anything close. The 2019 BMW M4 presents similar estimates of 18/25/20 mpg while the 2019 Lexus RC F - the only other V8 competitor - proves less efficient with estimates of 16/25/19 mpg.
The Coupe variant of the C63 seats a total of four occupants. The seats are comfortable enough for daily drivability and adequately supportive for routine performance driving, but serious drivers will no doubt want the optional AMG Performance front seats. These offer greater lateral support without sacrificing daily comfort, and they're stunning to look at. 14-way power adjustment is standard on either set of seats though, and the seats sink low to give the driver a sense of oneness with the car. Headroom and legroom in the front cabin are generous, but the same can't be said for the rear pair of perches, where style compromises practicality. The sloping roofline detriments rear headroom, while legroom is also limited substantially - reserving the rear seats for the smallest members of the family. The Coupe is easier to live with than many two doors, with ingress and egress made easy thanks to surprisingly light front doors that are painless to use in tight parking spaces. Accessing the rear is a little more tricky, but it's a worthwhile trade-off.
The C63 Coupe presents 10.5 cubic feet of trunk space, sacrificing 2.1 cubic feet from the sedan at the altar of style. The aperture is small but wide, and the trunk lid opens high to maximize access, allowing you to squeeze in two large travel bags between the wheel arches. The rear seats are 40/20/40 split-folding and expand the trunk capacity to improve storage versatility. The trunk itself is favorably deep and features hands-free access and an electronic trunk closer for convenience.
Inside the cabin, you'll find appreciably sized door side pockets that hold large bottles, as well as two cupholders, a sizeable center armrest console, and a moderately sized glovebox. There are another two cupholders and a compact storage cubby in the backrest between the two rear seats. Rear side pockets are also present but are compact. However, their clever design still enables them to hold most bottles.
Featured as standard on both the C63 and AMG C63 S Coupes is a SmartKey with keyless entry and push-button start capability. Also present are 14-way power-adjustable and heated sport front seats with memory system, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping three-spoke steering wheel with touch control buttons, brushed aluminum pedals, an IWC "Ingenieur" analog clock, a high-resolution multifunction display with analog gauges, dual-zone automatic climate control, and AMG Dynamic Select with Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Slippery, and Individual modes. Both models also feature a power tilt and sliding tinted glass sunroof as well as a hands-free access trunk with electronic trunk closer. The AMG C63 S receives AMG DRIVE UNIT controls on an AMG Nappa/DINAMICA Performance steering wheel, along with AMG S instrumentation, silver seatbelts, pre-installation for SD-card navigation, and the addition of RACE-mode to the AMG Dynamic Select. Not compromising on technology for the sake of performance, advanced driver assists are available, including car-to-X communication, adaptive steering for the adaptive cruise control system, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and automatic emergency braking. An AMG head-up display is optionally available to keep all important information in the driver's line of sight.
A 10.25-inch high-resolution center display tethered to a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system provides the entertainment in both C63 derivatives. It is controlled by either the touch control buttons on the steering wheel or the remote control module on the center console. It is integrated with an HD Radio receiver and offers SiriusXM Radio, while also enabled with Bluetooth audio streaming and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality as standard. Navigation isn't included as standard but is available on the options list, paired with live traffic updates powered by TomTom. In the center armrest console are two USB ports for device charging and connectivity, and a 12-volt outlet is situated on the center console. Though the system is of high-quality, the interface isn't as user-friendly as many rivaling infotainment systems.
Two recalls have been issued for 2019 C63 Coupe derivatives, both of some severity. The first recall was for the potential failure of the active brake assist functionality, while the second pertained to a steering rack locknut that may fail. Mercedes does, however, cover the AMG C63 Coupe with a standard four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, and gives the option to purchase warranty extensions of up to 100,000-miles.
Though the NHTSA is yet to crash-test the 2019 year model of the C-Class Coupe, we expect the overall five-star rating given to the 2018 year model to carry over, considering the substantial level of standard safety and advanced driver-assist features suited to the 2019 year model. The IIHS hasn't evaluated the coupe but did award the C-Class sedan the title of 2019 Top Safety Pick+. In addition to high-performance brakes and eight standard airbags, including knee airbags for both front occupants, the C63 Coupe can also be equipped with a range of active safety equipment like automatic high-beam assist, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and Pre-Safe Plus, which prepares the coupe for rear impacts when detected.
Never before has it been so difficult to choose a compact luxury sports coupe. Where the answer was always M3 Coupe (now M4), Mercedes-Benz has stormed through the front door in a cacophony of V8 fury. Sure, it may be less practical than an M4, and it may be less clinical in its ability to dismantle corners - particularly with the C63's substantial weight penalty - but the C63 Coupe is one of the best driver's machines Mercedes-Benz has produced in recent years. Fluid handling, a classy interior, and an intoxicating soundtrack are packaged in a stylish coupe body with a heavy dose of AMG aggression. The updates for 2019 have seen the smallest AMG coupe cement its place as one of the benchmarks in the segment, and while the M4 may still be favored on track, the C63 is perhaps the best of the lot on-road.
Prospective buyers can expect a starting MSRP of $68,750 for the base 2019 C63 Coupe, while opting for the more potent C63 S will bump that sticker price up to $76,450. Prices exclude tax, registration, and licensing fees, and Mercedes' transportation and processing charges of $995. In typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, a number of options can be added which quickly drives the price skyward, so it pays to be discerning when speccing your C63.
Considering the C63's position in the market as a high-performance AMG coupe, opting for the top-of-the-range C63 S would be a sensible decision. Along with the S's increased outputs and bragging rights of more than 500hp, it also receives enhanced functionality such as dynamic engine mounts, additional drive modes, and more aggressive styling in the form of 19-inch alloy wheels. It doesn't forego any of the luxury equipped as standard on the base C63, with standard dual-zone climate control, 14-way power-adjustable sports seats, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, and a 10.25-inch COMAND infotainment interface with a standard 13-speaker Burmester sound system. We'd opt for the additional comfort and support of the AMG Performance front seats, carbon-fiber exterior detailing, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and AMG head-up display to maximize the appeal of the C63, which pushes the price up to $83,640.
Performance is the key fundamental in this comparison and falls to the side of the 2019 AMG C63 in any measurable terms. Up to 503 hp vs the BMW's 425 hp, and a 0-60 mph sprint nearly half a second quicker than the M4 secure the AMG's dominance on paper, while a lower base price tips the scales further in the AMG's favor. But in the real world, things are a lot closer than it may seem. The M4 punches above its weight, and at the same time uses its lower weight of nearly 500 lbs to ensure that it handles more clinically, dismantling corners with utmost efficiency. It's still the favored track tool, sharper to the senses, and is recommended for any track enthusiast; but the character and outright muscle of the C63 is a joy on the road where it plays the dual role of a luxury cruiser by day, and muscle car by night. Both are brilliant, and the choice ultimately resides in personal needs and tastes.
The 2019 Lexus RC F is priced around $4,150 cheaper than the 2019 C63, but also falls short of the AMG in many respects. Both play host to loud and brawny V8 engines, but the C63 generates substantially more torque by virtue of its two turbochargers. This translates to better performance on paper, while a more impressive chassis makes the C63 a more engaging coupe to drive. Both boast luxurious interiors, but while the Mercedes places emphasis on industrial chic, the Lexus feels like a lounge on wheels, complimenting its GT-car nature. Coupes are never the most practical, but the RC F is the least practical of them all, with a smaller trunk than the C63 and less rear passenger space. The RC F may have improved since its debut several years back, but it's comprehensively beaten by the C63 in just about every aspect.