Currently reading: First ride: 2022 Mercedes-AMG C63
The C63 has ditched its legendary V8 for a hybridised four-pot. How does this change it on the road?

Let’s not beat about the bush. You’re here because you want to know if a four-pot can really replace the legendary V8. And well, there’s no escaping it: even with all its turbo whistles and synthesised noise, the new Mercedes-AMG C63 doesn’t sound as special as it would have done with a V8. 

Mercedes-AMG knows this. “Our customers come from a V8 sound, and of course this four-cylinder isn't going to have this V8 sound any more,” says AMG product manager Arne Wiebking. “But it's a transition. We all know that at some point in the future, V8s will have to be gone for good, and this is our interpretation of what a performance car needs to look like in today's world.”

Truth be told, from inside the C63 and in Race (aka full angry) mode, it does sound good. It’s synthesised, but in a believable way. AMG hasn’t made a bad pastiche of a V8: instead there are notes of V6, of Weber-carbed twin cam, overlaid with some turbo whistles and even some flat four, like a car show having a rev battle.

It stands comparison with the BMW M3’s straight six, which in its current turbocharged form is also a far cry from the snorting E46 M3 CSL.

Amg c63 e autocar interior

There's no doubt that, having lost its unique V8 calling card, the C63 needs to impress even more in other areas.

Our driver, René Szczepek, AMG’s head of vehicle dynamics, starts out in EV mode, and although the smooth roads of AMG’s proving ground aren’t the most challenging surface, it's notable how quiet it is inside and how composed the 20in wheels remain when thumping over drainage covers.

Szczepek is particularly proud of the GT3-style dampers in the new C63, explaining: “Damping is the game we really wanted to invest in, because you gain so much character of the car by just having good dampers. How confident you are in the car, how good you feel going into a corner, you need that feedback from the axles. And that's one thing we as a performance brand can't lose in this new game [of electrified performance cars].”


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Merc's factory tuner turns up the C-Class wick to unparalleled levels. Few other super saloons can compete for sheer petrol-burning exuberance

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Amg c63 e proto rear

Anyway, enough electric pottering about. The engine fires up and we go straight into launch control, named Race Start. Taking just 3.4sec to 62mph is nothing new, but in the C63 it does feel particularly violent, with not a hint of slip or even a chirp from the tyres.

Onto the handling course and with two power sources, variable four-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering, there's plenty of scope for the driving modes to influence how the car behaves.

In Comfort mode, the engine sounds muted and more four-cylinder-like than before, while the electric motor contributes only up to 25% of its maximum power. Through the corners, the balance feels secure and front-led.

Up into Sport and with the electric motor dialled up to 65%, the performance becomes noticeably brisker. There's a hint of the rear axle helping out but no chance of any lairiness.

Sport+ is more of the same, with up to 80% of the electric power and the beginnings of a four-wheel drift when Szczepek throws the car into a long downhill sweeper.

Amg c63 e autocar interior 2

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Race mode is the real event. The engine sounds especially healthy, and even from the passenger seat, you can feel that there’s a lot going on to make this 2.1-tonne car feel agile.

The rear easily steps out on the power, but there’s enough torque being sent to the front that the car never reaches big drift angles. Meanwhile, the rear-wheel steering will adjust the yaw mid-corner. 

So far, we’ve not talked much about the plug-in hybrid system, because in practice it doesn’t shout too much about itself. AMG’s aim was to make the powertrain feel as linear and natural as possible, and that it does. 

Unlike many PHEV systems, it’s also pretty good at taking care of itself and using the battery and motor’s 100kW of regenerative capability to keep the battery topped up. Using the Boost mode limits the electric power slightly to make the battery last longer on track, but whatever mode the car is in, the battery level gauge zips up and down quite quickly depending on the load.

Amg c63 e proto static

It’s impressive how AMG is making use of all the technology in its arsenal, but there is a real danger that the C63 will end up feeling artificial from behind the wheel.

We’re also curious about how it will translate to the road. Happily, we don’t have to wait too long to try the car for ourselves, and we will be able to bring you a review later this year.

Illya Verpraet

Illya Verpraet Road Tester Autocar
Title: Road Tester

As part of Autocar’s road test team, Illya drives everything from superminis to supercars, and writes reviews, comparison tests, as well as the odd feature and news story. 

Much of his time is spent wrangling the data logger and wielding the tape measure to gather the data for Autocar’s eight-page road tests, which are the most rigorous in the business thanks to independent performance, fuel consumption and noise figures.

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BonesRSA 7 October 2022

Perhaps MB should change the name to something other than C63 as the C63 has always been associated with a big bellowing V8.

Boris9119 6 October 2022

The review by Autocar of this bastardization of the C63 will be telling. Recently Autocar has sat on the fence, unwilling to upset any major manufacturer for fear of becoming increasingly irrelevant. Unfavorable comments by other motoring magazines and you tubers suggests this vehicle is not an improvement on its predecessor, quite the opposite. It will be interesting to see whether Autocar still has any sphericals?

F6C 7 October 2022

Not surely it's really all about upsetting manufacturers. The real problem is punters. They lap up all the turbo flappy paddle crap being produced these days and while most of it won't be to the Autocar road test team's taste, as they do know what they're talking about, they also have to review cars with a view to what buyers want. hardly any buyers are actually driving enthusiasts, at best they are car enthusiasts which is not the same thing. So, Autocar has to embrace what they like, even if it's a dumbed down playstation driving experience, or else alienate the readership. They aren't a boutique outfit that can aim for the purist market. They have to be pretty mainstream to be viable.

Marc 6 October 2022
Be interesting to find out just how much more efficient this hybrid system is over the V8, considering it weighs some 300 kilos more. No car the size of a C class should be 2.1t, but at least it can roll away in electric mode. Keeps the finger waggers happy.
Boris9119 6 October 2022

Marc, agreed. When I was driving a Taycan Turbo last year (GT4 having its transmission replaced) I was impressed with the overall feedaback when driving in town and then I had to make a 90 degree turn from 50mph into my community and the mass finaly revealed itself! That said, I would rate the Taycan above all Panamera if your use is mainly urban. The Taycan is nice, but its not a 911 GTS, never mind a GT3. Caveat emptor.

jason_recliner 7 October 2022
They're all made by We Dudded You, you'd have to be a sad chav/bogan to buy any of them. What's your point?