by Gabe Beita Kiser
Before the debut of the CLA- and GLA-class models to Mercedes-AMG's compendium, the C-Class lineup was the most affordable means for a Mercedes buff to get behind the wheel of an AMG forged vehicle, cementing the AMG C63 as a firm fan favorite. But things have changed a little, with AMG embracing downsizing and turbocharging in one fell swoop. Quaking beneath the hood of the W204-generation AMG C63 lies a newfangled twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine, which has already managed to prove doubters wrong, proving itself a worthy successor to the M156 that developed a cult following in the previous generation C63. Having always rivaled the BMW M3, the AMG C63 Sedan steps into the fray with two states of tune offering up to 503 horsepower, posing itself as the butcher's cleaver in contrast to BMW's scalpel. Equally as sharp, the C63 a more robust and undeniably brazen contender.
The AMG C63 Sedan rolls into 2019 with a mid-life facelift and a few updated features. From the styling department, the C63 gets AMG's signature Panamericana grille along with newly molded bumpers and revised air intakes. Out back, the tailpipes and rear diffuser are also new, while the taillight design has been reworked, too. Inside, there's an updated COMAND infotainment system and a revised steering wheel now incorporating the AMG Drive Unit. The optional AMG Performance seats now boast heating and ventilation, the latter previously omitted. Under the hood, the power outputs the same, although Mercedes-AMG has seen fit to equip the C63 with a new nine-speed automatic gearbox in place of the old seven.
With Mercedes-Benz's typical cab-back design as a canvas, the AMG team has set to work to turn the C63 into something bold and brazen. They've given it flared fenders to accentuate the muscled stance typical of an AMG, while the hood boasts twin power domes hinting at the two banks of cylinders beneath it. Upfront, the new Panamericana grille design ensures the big V8 breathes enough, while out back, the AMG-specific rear bumper and diffuser houses quad trapezoidal exhaust tips. Filling those masculine arches you'll find 18-inch ten-spoke AMG alloy wheels on the base C63, while the S derivative not only gets subtle badge enhancements but also 19-inch twin five-spoke alloy wheels. The result - a body builder's physique in a finely tailored suit, both brawny and classy.
With widened bodywork and enhanced mechanical wizardry beneath the skin, the C63 presents substantially altered dimensions to a base C-Class. The wheelbase may remain much the same at 111.8 inches, but at 56.1 inches tall and 79.5 inches wide it's both shorter and wider than the commuter with which it shares its DNA. It also measures a little longer at 187.3 inches. The standard C63 and the more potent C63 S share these dimensions, but where they differ is in their curb weight, with the base C63 weighing 3,874 lbs, while the mechanically superior C63 S tips the scales a few pounds heavier at a nice round 3,900 lbs. While the footprint of the C63 might be typical of the segment, it's a bit of a heavyweight, tipping the scales at approximately 300lbs more than the BMW M3.
Along with bespoke bodywork, the AMG C63 gets 11 colors to highlight its newfound muscle. Paint options range from the sedate Black and Polar White to more striking hues like Iridium Silver, Lunar Blue, Brilliant Blue, and Emerald Green. Metallic colors command an extra $720 over Black and Polar White, but for those who wish to stamp their financial superiority over the rest designo Cardinal Red Metallic can be optioned for an extra $1,080 and designo Diamond White Metallic for an extra $1,515.
The luxury midsize sedan segment is offered referred to as the 'sports sedan' and for good reason. With benchmarks like the BMW M3, performance is readily available, and it's into this arena the AMG C63 steps. It's ready for battle, though, armed with a hand-crafted twin-turbo V8 that develops in excess of 500 horsepower in its most potent C63 S guise. Coupled with 516 lb-ft of torque and a new nine-speed automatic gearbox, this pinnacle of the C-Class lineup roars from 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds, with the lesser-powered model meeting the target a tenth of a second slower. The extra two gear ratios for this year's nine-speed automatic gearbox have improved that sprint by 0.1 seconds over last year's model, but what hasn't changed is AMG's reliance on rear-wheel-drive - a staple drivetrain for the sports sedan used by all rivals with the exception of Audi's RS5 Sportback.
The purists said the new M177 V8 could never match the character of the old 6.2-liter M156. They were wrong. Simply put, the hand-crafted 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is one of the best examples of a turbocharged engine we've ever sampled. It may not howl in the same way the old one did, but its roar belies the two turbochargers housed hot in its vee, and the response to throttle inputs doesn't even carry with it a whiff of that infernal thing known as turbo-lag.
It's available in two states of tune, with the base C63 developing 469 hp and 479 lb-ft while the full-fat C63 S turns the dial up to 503 hp and 516 lb-ft. Both derivatives send the power rearwards through an AMG-tuned nine-speed Speedshift automatic gearbox, which replaces last year's dated seven-speed auto.
The base engine is a true brute, with potent acceleration and massive overtaking potential. It's the Bane to BMW's Batman - relying on strength rather than street smarts. The C63 S is what happens when Bane gets an extra-strong dose of venom, unleashing his full potential with even more muscle.
On the road, you wouldn't really notice the difference though, as both deliver big hits of addictive turbocharged torque with strong pull right until the engine's redline. The nine-speed auto makes light work of swapping cogs, and while it's no dual-clutch, it fires off rapid shifts to salvos of gunfire from the quad exhausts - particularly with the active AMG exhaust equipped. It's loud enough to wake the dead at full tilt, but swap it into quiet mode and it's a perfectly behaved gentleman, still but ever-present.
AMG has created a die-cast mold by which all models have historically been cast. Big bruisers with more power than grip at the rear axle, turning clear sunny days into overcast storms of tire smoke and mayhem. But with the W204 generation C63 they've broken the mold completely. That doesn't mean it's impossible to unstick the rear end - that still happens with a mere prod of the throttle - but there's more restraint here than any previous iteration of a sedan bearing the C63 badge.
Lean on the tires and there's an abundance of mechanical grip. It allows you to carry immense speeds through corners, while also being able to ease on the throttle earlier than ever before. An all-wheel-drive alternative will still have more grip, but the newfound restraint has brought to light Affalterbach's chassis engineers' talents. They've tied together these high levels of grip with impressive steering. Yes, it's numb for general use - making it easy to maneuver in and out of tight parking spaces, but under duress, it loads up naturally and responds keenly. Turn-in is direct, but not jumpy, and the rear follows accurately. Approaching the limits of grip there's a natural weight to the wheel, which lets you know when you'd about to overcome the adhesion to whatever surface you're on.
As a sports sedan, there's a firmness to the C63 range that's expected of this category. But the AMG Ride Control adaptive suspension manages to strike a fine balance between hard and harsh, and when left in its softest mode it encourages a suppleness from all four corners that's as comfortable on the daily grind as it is hunting down apexes through your favorite canyon road. It maintains contact with the road and deals with smaller imperfections impressively well, but larger bumps, ruts, and camber changes still manage to upset the apple cart a little, as the broad rear tires tend to track camber changes quite aggressively.
Adding the final layer to the performance cake are high-performance six-piston brake calipers clamping down on ventilated and cross-drilled 15.4-inch steel discs up front and 14.2-inch discs rear. They provide ample stopping power for all occasions barring the heaviest track abuse and the pedal provides good responses with linear escalation in stopping power accompanying increased pedal application. Carbon ceramics are available for track use, but for day to day driving the seel stoppers are superb.
Despite the C63's newfound maturity, it can still play the hooligan. But it's partially due to the ever-present sense of weight. It's not light on its feet, and under duress, you can feel there's more weight at play than in an M3. It may settle the overall ride quality, but it also means the C63 will never feel as sharp as the BMW.
Gas mileage estimates from the 2019 AMG C63 are relatively good, despite the available power and eight-cylinder engine configuration. The EPA gave the small luxury sedan estimates of 18/27/21 mpg city/highway/combined for both the standard and S derivative. The BMW M3 and Audi RS 5 are marginally less fuel-efficient, receiving estimates of 17/25/20 mpg and 17/26/20 mpg respectively. The AMG C63 carries a gas tank of 17.4-gallons, which when full with premium unleaded gas as recommended, gives the sedan a range of 365.4 miles in mixed conditions.
Both AMG C63 Sedans are impeccably well-built from the inside out and are outfitted with high-quality materials meticulously fitted and finished with impeccable attention to detail. This results in a cabin that not only looks appealing but exudes quality and refinement, while still living up to the sportiness of the AMG badges that adorn it. Bespoke seating, instrumentation, and a new-for-2019 AMG steering wheel all let you know you're behind the wheel of something special, as do dashes of carbon fiber. The rest of the cabin is standard C-Class though, which means seating for five, plush leather, an abundance of tech, and a broad, richly finished center console oozing class and refinement
Both the AMG C63 and AMG C63 S Sedans competently seat a total of five occupants. Those in the front are cosseted in substantially bolstered sport seats with 14-way power adjustment, heating, and memory functions. They are luxuriously comfortable for daily accommodation and effectively supportive for routine performance driving. Optionally, and highly recommended, are the AMG Performance front seats, which for 2019 boast heating and ventilation, but still retain their elevated levels of lateral support, along with superior comfort and breathtaking beauty. Overall room up front is adequate, however, with six-foot occupants sitting up front, head and legroom in the back of the cabin are somewhat limited. Considering the low-set sports seats, ingress and egress from the vehicle and seats remain effortless and the sedan is easy to live with.
The interior of the AMG C63 Sedan comes default in black MB-Tex/DINAMICA combination upholstery available in black with red stitching and with either natural grain gray oak wood, natural grain walnut wood, dark brown linden wood, or natural grain black ash wood and aluminum trim. For an additional $2,590 the interior can be upholstered with either black, platinum white pearl/black, red pepper/black Nappa leather, or Magma Grey/Black Nappa leather with yellow stitching, all of which are standard options for the AMG C63 S model. For an additional $975, applicable to both models, AMG silver fiberglass or AMG carbon-fiber trim can be optioned.
The AMG C63 Sedan offers 12.6 cubic feet of trunk space or capacity enough for two full sets of racing overalls, gloves, boots, and helmets, with space to spare for your business briefcase. The AMG C63's trunk capacity is relatively good considering that the BMW M3 and Audi S5 offer only 12 cubic feet. Some versatility is provided with the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats which fold down flat to expand trunk space for larger or odd-shaped cargo. The trunk is appreciably deep and for convenience features power hands-free opening and electronic closing.
In-cabin storage solutions comprise decently sized door side pockets that fit bottles in all four doors, two cupholders up front, a sizeable center armrest console, and a moderately sized glovebox. There are two cupholders and a small center console located in the backrest of the rear center seat.
Standard vehicle features remain predominantly similar between the AMG C63 Sedan models, the key features including keyless entry, push-button start, sport front seats with 14-way power adjustment, heating, and memory, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, tilt-and-telescoping three-spoke steering wheel with touch control buttons, high-resolution multifunction display with analog gauges, dual-zone automatic climate control, and AMG Dynamic Select with Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Slippery, and Individual modes. As standard, both also feature power-operated windows and a power tilt and sliding tinted glass sunroof as well as a hands-free access trunk with electronic trunk closer. The AMG C63 S Sedan also features AMG Drive Unit controls on the steering wheel as standard and the addition of Race mode to the AMG Dynamic Select, while the steering wheel is upgraded to an AMG Nappa/DINAMICA performance steering wheel. Standard driver-assists across the lineup include driver attention assist and blind-spot assist while car-to-X communication, a driver's head-up display, surround-view monitor, and lane change assist among others can be optioned via the available packages.
The standard setup in both AMG C63 Sedan models comprises a 10.25-inch high-resolution center display hooked up to a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound audio system. The COMAND infotainment system is controlled via the steering-wheel-mounted touch control buttons or the central controller which features rotary inputs and a touchpad. It features an HD Radio receiver and SiriusXM satellite radio with a six-month trial. Bluetooth audio streaming is enabled and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality are incorporated as standard. The system as a whole is high-quality and boasts a high level of functionality, but it's not as fluid to operate as BMW's iDrive or Auri's MMI systems.
Along with previous year models, the 2019 AMG C63 has been subject to several recalls, with issues ranging from minor to major, from airbag status errors, dysfunctional seats to faulty airbags. J.D. Power nevertheless gives the 2019 AMG C63 a predicted reliability rating of three out of five stars, placing the C63 as average in its segment. Mercedes covers the AMG C63 with a standard four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, with the option to purchase warranty extensions of up to 100,000-miles.
The NHTSA hasn't yet evaluated the 2019 C63 or the base C-Class from which it's derived. While the IIHS hasn't tested the C63 derivative specifically, the institution did award the standard C-Class with the top honor of 2019 Top Safety Pick +.
The AMG C63 and C63 S both come with a good range of standard vehicle safety and advanced driver-assist features. The standard airbag consignment is linked to the Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call service and comprises eight standard airbags including driver and front passenger knee airbags. Standard advanced driver assists include ESP, dynamic cornering assist, active brake assist, attention assist, crosswind assist, and blind-spot assist. Default safety features also include a rearview camera and the obvious benefits of high-performance brakes. More extensive and significant safety and advanced driver-assist features can be added via the available optional packages, with available features including car-to-X communication, a driver's head-up display, surround-view monitor, and lane change assist among others.
Half-way through the W204 generation's lifespan, the Mercedes-AMG C63 wasn't feeling particularly dated. But with a new M3 on its way, Mercedes-Benz has made enough updates to the model to future-proof the sports sedan until such time as they can respond to a new breed of M3. The C63 gets a lot right, with a high-quality cabin, practical trunk, and a characterful V8 soundtrack, but those are the easy things to do. They've managed to tick the difficult boxes as well, giving the C63 a duality of comfort in day to day use and dynamic ability when the situation arises. It's a new breed of AMG that still has the same aggression as the brand has always been renowned for, but with a level of control and sophistication that elevates the C63 in stature to be a true M3 rival. It feels fluid and precise, and yet it doesn't try and emulate the M3. In much the same way as it's let down by its sheer weight, there's also a sense of heft to the controls and its general demeanor. The M3 is quick and sharp, agile and to the point - a cheetah on an open African plain - but the C63 is something more. It's equally as deadly with teeth just as sharp, but there's more substance to its nature. It's a grizzly bear when it needs to be, but it's clothed in a sophisticated three-piece suit.
Though it's no longer the most affordable AMG money can buy, the C63 is still one of the cheaper ways of getting behind the wheel of Affalterbach's finest. Pricing starts at $67,000 on the base model before options, tax, licensing, registration, and a destination charge of $995. The C63 S carries an MSRP of $74,600. In true Mercedes fashion, ticking options on your order form can quickly see the price rise to nearly $100,000. Pricing is more or less in line with direct rivals, with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio priced at $74,245, while the 2018 M3 was priced at $66,500 before being discontinued for 2019.
Mercedes-Benz sells the AMG C63 is two trims: C63 and C63 S. Both are equipped with a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 engine in two states of tune, developing 469hp in the base C63 and 503hp in the S. In both variants, outputs are sent to the rear wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission.
At its default level, the standard C63 Sedan is equipped with 18-inch twin ten-spoke alloy wheels with AMG high-performance six-pot brakes and features gray-painted brake calipers with AMG logos. It also features the standard AMG Dynamic Select, as well as keyless entry, push-button start, sport front seats with 14-way power adjustment, heating, and memory, tilt-and-telescoping three-spoke steering wheel with touch control buttons, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt and sliding tinted glass sunroof, and a hands-free access trunk with electronic trunk closer.
The AMG C63 S Sedan is equipped with larger 19-inch twin five-spoke alloy wheels with an AMG High-performance Composite Braking System and features red-painted brake calipers with AMG logos. Its standard AMG Dynamic Select is augmented with a RACE mode, and AMG Drive Unit controls are added to the steering wheel which adjusts performance settings. The engine in the AMG C63 S is enhanced with computer-controlled dynamic engine mounts purposed to maximize handling in extreme driving. Above the AMG C63, it also receives a bespoke AMG Nappa/DINAMICA performance steering wheel, AMG S instrumentation, an IWC Ingenieur analog clock, silver seatbelts, and pre-installation for SD-card navigation.
As with any Mercedes product, a range of standalone options and packages can be equipped, quickly driving the price of the C63 sky-high.
Available to both models is an Exterior Lighting Package which for $900 adds an intelligent light system with ultra-wide beam headlamps and the adaptive high-beam assist. The $2,300 Multimedia Package upgrades the infotainment system with COMAND navigation, enhanced voice control, and car-to-X communication. It adds a touchpad controller and includes complimentary online navigation map updates for three years and three-years of Live Traffic services provided by TomTom. The $1,090 Parking Assistance Package comprises active parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and a surround-view camera. For $1,800, the Driver Assistance Package comprehensively outfits the vehicles with fully adaptive cruise control, active steering assist, evasive steering assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic function, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, Extended Restart in stop-and-go traffic, and Congestion Emergency Braking.
For the more performance-minded buyer, the AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber package gives you carbon fiber mirror housings and a carbon lip spoiler for $1,750. You can get matching carbon interior trim for $975, and you can get the exceptional AMG Performance front seats for $2,500 - a must-have on any C63. Red seat belts are a $500 option, while an AMG head-up display will set you back $990. Those in search of the fastest lap times may also want the $5,450 AMG carbon-ceramic front brakes.
Thinking objectively and logically, the difference in performance between the C63 and the C63 S is negligible, and you're not ever going to be able to use all the potential of the standard model on-road anyway. With a lower price tag and all the luxury, it makes the most sense to opt for the base model. But when has logic ever been the deciding factor in buying a sports sedan? It's an emotive decision that often hinges on how it makes you feel, and there's something special about knowing you have 503 hp lying in wait under your right foot. We'd opt for the C63 S, with some AMG cross-spoke alloy wheels ($1,750), the $900 Exterior Lighting package, and the AMG Night Package dark exterior trim. Inside, the AMG Performance front seats are a must and the AMG Dinamica steering wheel feels superb in hand. Throw in the AMG head-up display and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and you've got a fully comprehensive C63 S for a hair over $80,000.
Audi's fast RS cars have always been a third-wheel in the battle between the M3 and C63, but the new RS5 Sportback looks to get more involved than the coupe or wagon derivatives that have fought in the segment for ages. On price alone, the C63 makes more sense, undercutting the RS5's $74,200 price tag by $7,000. The base C63 generates more power than the RS5 too, as Audi's turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 only develops 444 horsepower and a far less satisfying soundtrack than the brawny AMG V8. The RS5 carries a trick up its sleeve, though, and equipped with permanent all-wheel-drive, it manages to offset the power deficit and sprint from 0-60 a tenth of a second quicker than the AMG. But the AMG is more precise, more wieldy, and more fun, while the RS5 is easy speed - grand tourer style. If you're after easy, comfortable speed and all-weather control, the RS5 is the obvious choice, but if its a driver's sedan you're looking for, the C63 simply has more character.
The age-old battle of BMW vs Mercedes, M vs AMG, and M3 vs C63. But there is no 2019 M3, as BMW is busy readying the next one, and so the M4 coupe might be on your radar. Naturally, the M4 sacrifices practicality and rear passenger space by losing a pair of doors, which also makes it stiffer and lighter than the AMG by a substantial margin. It's more clinical in its handling too, and recent refinements have seen the turbocharged straight-six deliver its 425 hp in an effective manner that gives it identical straight-line performance to the C63 twins. Both performance cars are devastatingly quick, but the M3 is precise and light on its feet, dancing from apex to apex with speed and precision, while the C63 is more brutal in the way it bludgeons the road into submission. The M4 is the better track tool - lighter, more focused, more precise - but on the road in real-world situations, the C63 is not only more luxurious, but it's easier to live with. It rides comfortably when needed but clears its throat with a spine-tingling roar and impressive dynamics when the situation arises. It's a more rounded performance car, making it our pick for real-world situations.