It’s perhaps not entirely fair to say that the C 63 is the first AMG C-class to be thoroughly and comprehensively re-engineered to suit its market, because both the C 32 and C 55 were excellent cars. But you do get the impression that the C 63 represents a step up by Mercedes, both in design and engineering commitment, compared with its predecessors.
So while the 6.3-litre V8 engine very much remains the centrepiece of the car, it’s no longer the dominant factor. Just about all the parts of the C 63 that move – and plenty of things that don’t – have been redesigned, and the result is a more complete car that feels entirely separate from the rest of the C-Class range.
The engine itself, claims AMG, develops around 30 percent more torque than any other rival in the marketplace. So while the 451bhp at 6800rpm is deeply impressive (the M3 has 414bhp at 8300rpm), it’s the 443lb ft at 5000rpm that hits hardest. And the real killer is that at least 370lb ft of this is available between 2000 and 6250rpm; the M3’s 4.0-litre V8 produces a best of 295lb ft at 3900rpm.
The C 63 puts its power to the road via a seven-speed semi-automatic gearbox with paddle shifters fixed to the steering wheel, and which has three different shift modes: full manual (in which it will categorically not shift up unless you ask it to), sport auto and finally comfort auto, in which the shifts occur less quickly and more smoothly than in sport auto.
The C 63 is the first AMG to feature self-blipping on downshifts, once again indicating how badly AMG wishes to attract would-be M3 pilots.
There is also a three-stage ESP system that, at last, can be switched off entirely if you so wish, a move that requires a fair bit of bravery on a wet and windy B-road in December.
As standard the diff is not a full limited-slip item (you need to specify the Sport pack to get one of those, which also brings even stiffer suspension and 19in wheels), but the C 63 will still perform oversteer tricks on demand with a bootful of throttle – wildly so with the ESP switched off, slightly so with it set on ESP Sport.
The suspension has been completely redesigned for the C 63. Although the basic layout remains, the springs and dampers are different, the anti-roll bars are beefier, the tracks are wider front and rear and the ride height is lower. Even the steering has a faster rack with just 2.4 turns across a still-decent-size 10.8m turning circle.
The brakes, too, have been substantially uprated to include 360mm/330mm ventilated discs front and rear with six-piston calipers at the front. Standard-size wheels are 18in front and rear with 235/40 tyres at the front and relatively narrow – considering the vast power they have to transmit – 255/35 covers at the rear. The test car wore Pirelli P-Zeros.