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.
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.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG C63 Sedan||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
|AMG C63 S Sedan||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
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.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
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.
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.
|Mercedes-AMG C63 Sedan||671 hp||17/26 mpg||TBC|
|Audi RS5 Sportback||444 hp||18/25 mpg||$78,200|
|BMW M4 Coupe||473 hp||16/23 mpg||$74,700|
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.
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