AMG. Three letters that set a true enthusiast’s pulse racing with their very mention for they know all too well what they mean. AMG is a tuning firm that’s been busy making great cars even better, and are now full owned by Mercedes; giving their already exceptional models even more grunt by shoehorning massive 8 cylinder engines into bays that can barely contain them. That may sound like a match made in heaven, and indeed, it is!
You see, a typical Mercedes C class sedan has engines ranging from 1.8L 4-cylinder motors to 3.5L 6-cylinder ones. So, when you put a big V8 under that very bonnet, and tweak all the important bits to improve performance and handling, you have the makings of one of the greatest motor vehicles money can buy. And that’s quite a lot of money, mind you!
So, what sets the C63 AMG apart from the rest? Let’s find out.
Exterior – Design and Build
On the outside, for the layman, it will seem like a regular Mercedes with big wheels with four big exhaust pipes at the rear. Look closely, and you notice the bulges on the bonnet, the wider and lower stance as well as dribbles of AMG badging on the side, the rear and on the brake calipers. The front grille is pronounced and has just one chromed slat across the center as opposed to the dual slat grille on regular smaller-engined Avant Garde variants.
The W204 C class is a much larger car than its predecessor, offering subtle changes on the outside, and more space on the inside. From the flared wheel arches to the headlamps with their LED signatures to the light alloy wheels with wide tires and those twin dual exhaust pipes at the rear that border on vulgar, the AMG C class exudes power and athleticism even when standing still. Whichever angle you view it from, it’s quite evident that it is no ordinary C class.
Interior – Comfort and Equipment
On the inside, the C63 AMG is just as you would expect it to be; finely crafted with meticulous attention to detail. Everything you see is electronically adjustable. The seats are a red and black two tone affair, and are superbly supportive. They are trimmed in Artico and Dinamica. Dinamica is a new type of fiber which is soft to touch, breathable and has a high degree of lightfastness, and is used to upholster the central segments of seat cushions. The seats also can be adjusted in a multitude of ways, with even the bolsters on the side allowing you to adjust them so they hold on to you better.
Once you’re seated comfortably, you come to grips with the chunky steering wheel, which feels substantial to hold on to. The gear shift paddles for the 7-speed GTronic automatic transmission are mounted just behind and I can’t help but steal a quick flick in sheer excitement. The three pod console looks fantastic, and is easy to read, making it easier still to see how quickly the engine builds the revs! The gear lever is not too large, but only serves to shift four positions. A little dial right next to it allows you to switch from C, S, S+ and M modes on the fly. Interesting bit, that, so more on it later. And finally, if there ever was anything to crib about, it’s the number of stalks behind the wheel which tends to confuse you at first, but it’s nothing a quick drive won’t sort out.
Safety – Active and Passive
Whatever the level of performance it has on tap, at the end of it, the C63 AMG is a German premium saloon. This means that it has the full complement of Mercedes’ trademark safety features from Pre Safe preventive safety procedures to the full complement of airbags. The Electronic Stability Program can be switched between three modes depending on the driving circumstances. The AMG high performance braking system uses an advanced fade-resistant anti-lock braking system and features internally ventilated and cross-drilled rotors that deliver massive stopping power.
Of course, it doesn’t end there, with several proven safety features from the S-class and CLS-class being included in this C-class, the list of equipment is extensive. The Adaptive High Beam Assist helps manage lighting responsibilities while the Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Blind Spot Assist make sure you don’t have trouble switching lanes; particularly useful on highway drives. Also present is the Attention Assist system which alerts you if it detects driving characteristics brought on by drowsiness. The Cruise Control is further aided by the Distronic Plus system. Furthermore, you have a Speed Limit Assist; while parking duties are made much easier with the Reversing Camera equipped ParkTronic system.
Drivetrain – Engine and Transmission
This is where it gets really interesting. If you’re wondering about the 63 badging, it’s because under that bonnet lies a massive 6208cc V8 motor, which Mercedes-AMG prefers to call a 6.3. Mind you, it’s not any lazy large displacement motor with a focus on bottom-end grunt. This mighty V8 revs all the way to 7000 rpm in barely a couple of seconds if you don’t pay attention. With 457 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 600 Nm of torque all going through the 7-speed multi-clutch sports transmission to the big rear wheels, this isn’t one bit of a slouch. 0-100 km/h is dismissed in 4.5 seconds, and the C63 sprints to an electronically limited top whack of 250 km/h.
Now, as mentioned earlier, that dial next to the gear lever. While it is rather small, it sure looks like it does a lot; and indeed it does! This little dial has four modes –
“C”, or controlled efficiency mode, shifts up early at lower engine speeds to deliver comfortable shifts and enhance fuel efficiency.
“S”, or sport mode, focuses on acceleration and on delivering the fastest gear shifts and the quickest pickup; even allowing double declutching!
“S+”, or sport plus, turns the car into an even more agile machine, responding even quicker than S, with gear shifts taking just 100 milliseconds!
“M”, or Manual, turns over control to you! The paddles behind the steering wheel can be used to shift as and when you desire. You can hold the revs at the redline and enjoy that bellowing baritone, or shift up quickly to save fuel and make less noise, like a boring person.
There’s even a “Race Start” facility to enable the driver to explore the full acceleration potential of the vehicle.
Dynamics - Ride and Handling
This was the part I had been waiting for. But, before setting off, I had to sign a declaration stating that I was aware of the potential that AMG vehicles have and could end up being seriously or even fatally injured. I read the declaration twice, a million thoughts flying through my mind, before I put pen to paper. Then it was time to set off. The first thing I noticed is how low you actually sit, and second, how everything just falls into place brilliantly. Push the starter and the big V8 roars to life, with a deep baritone sound that is hard to forget, ever. Move the gearlever into D and we’re off. Even in C mode, the C63 jumps with every nudge of the throttle, and that serves as a warning for the power on tap waiting to be unleashed. You have to be careful, you really do. One wrong move with your foot and you might end up somewhere you surely don’t want to be in a hurry.
On the road, the C63 is silent, even eerily silent; until you put your foot down that is! Find an opening, and putting your foot down results in some serious acceleration coupled to that low-pitch bellow from the big V8 that is a sheer joy to every sense. The C63 throws you into the back of the seat with angst, until you quickly get a grip on the situation and begin to enjoy it. Numbers are racked up rather quickly and I have absolutely no doubt in the claimed 0-100 time of 4.5 seconds. In S+ mode, the gear shifts are all but imperceptible, if you happen to be listening to the engine notes as keenly as I was. There is a surge of excitement every time you get on the throttle and after every blip it starts all over again; munching away at the tarmac that looked so plentiful just a few seconds ago!
On the move, the AMG tuned suspension is rather nice. It soaks up the bumps, and the ground clearance isn’t as bad as you think it is. Noise insulation is fantastic, as with every Mercedes, and it lets you keep your thoughts about you without any uncalled for interruptions from the world outside. At less ferocious speeds, you can look around the cabin and enjoy all the little details. I look around and smile every time I notice something with an “AMG” label or inscription on it. Every little bit of the console and instrument panel is a showcase for attention to detail.
The C63 AMG is the flagship of the C class saloon range for good reason. It is a case of obscene excess. The big V8 in the C63 is very powerful, and more than substantial for a car of its size. Apart from power, it is also a usable four-door saloon car. It lets you do whatever it is you want to do with a saloon car, only that it lets you do it all much faster! There is so much to be appreciated about this car, owners will spend a while trying to figure out what all it is that they have paid for!
Engine Configuration: V8, 4 valves/cylinder
Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection
Fuel Type: Premium Petrol
Displacement (Bore x Stroke): 6208cc (102.2mm x 94.6mm)
Rated Output: 336 kW (457 PS) / 6800 rpm
Rated Torque: 600 Nm (61.18 kg-m) / 5000 rpm
Maximum engine speed: 7200 rpm (governed)
Compression Ratio: 11.3 : 1
Transmission: 7-speed AMG SpeedShift MCT sports transmission
Drive: Rear wheel drive
Steering: Hydraulic, speed-dependent, rack-and-pinion system
Braking: Dual circuit, ABS with Brake Assist
Front Suspension: Three-link independent
Front Setup: Coil springs, double tube shock absorber, torsion bar stabilizer
Front Brakes: 360 x 36 mm ventilated, cross-drilled rotors, six-piston fixed calipers.
Front Wheels & Tyres: 8.0J x 18, 235/40 R18
Rear Suspension: Reinforced multi-link independent
Rear Setup: Coil springs, single tube shock absorber, torsion bar stabilizer
Rear Brakes: 330 x 26 mm ventilated, cross-drilled rotors, four-piston fixed calipers.
Rear Wheels & Tyres: 9.0J x 18, 255/35 ZR18
Body Type: Four door saloon
Length: 4707 mm
Width: 1795 mm
Width (including mirrors): 2008 mm
Height: 1433 mm
Wheelbase: 2765 mm
Turning Circle: 11.1 m
Kerb Weight: 1730 kg
Maximum Payload: 440 kg
Gross Vehicle Weight: 2185 kg
Maximum Roof Load: 100 kg
Closed Boot Capacity: 690 L
Fuel Tank: 66 L
Reserve: 14 L
Emission Class: Euro V
CO2: 280 g/km
City: 18.2L / 100 kms (5.5 km/l)
Highway: 8.4L / 100 kms (11.9 km/l)
Combined: 12.0L / 100 kms (8.3 km/l)
* - Data as specified by Mercedes-AMG as of July 2011.
I would like to thank B. U. Bhandari, Pune, the authorized dealer for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and AMG performance vehicles for Pune City, for a first hand experience of the C63 AMG.