The best sporting car Mercedes has made in recent history

What is it?

It’s Stuttgart’s latest AMG offering, the Mercedes C 63 AMG saloon. Armed with 451bhp and 443lb ft it’s got a clear power advantage over its nearest rivals, and we’ve already driven it twice; once back in June, when Greg Kable called it “the most entertaining Mercedes since the 190 2.5 Evo,” and once six weeks later, when it seriously impressed Chris Harris.

Chris came away for the International launch of the new Mercedes C 63 AMG feeling very positively about this new Benz super saloon, but this is our first chance to try it in the UK. So will it seem as great in right-hand drive, on our own brand of bitumen?

What’s it like?

I was on the international launch of this car, and the first impression is that without the trick adjustable dampers fitted to Autocar’s launch car, the C 63 treads a touch more firmly than its BMW counterpart, or for that matter the RS4. It’s not so hard as to dent its otherwise impressive cruising capabilities, at least not on the standard 18” wheels fitted here. Lateral instrusions cause the biggest worry though, with the occasional thud, but even these don’t intrude too far into the cabin, and this aside the damping is well judged.

As impressive as the outright performance – with 451bhp from a 6.2-litre V8, it’s not exactly lacking – is the accessibility. Whatever speed you’re doing, in whatever gear, full throttle summons a sledgehammer of torque, 369lb ft anywhere between 2000 and 6250rpm and if you happen to be near 5000rpm the full 443lb ft.

But there’s a lot more to this car than a mighty engine and effortless cruising credentials. As we’ve chronicled all year, the C-Class is blessed with the sort of handling balance that vindicates a preference for rear-wheel drive cars, and the C 63’s considerable extra poke has done nothing to upset this.

On the road the turn-in is keen and controlled via a natural, feelsome steering now complete with a chunky DTM style wheel and a quick 2.5 turns. It’s at the track that things turn considerably more interesting, for even without the optional limited slip differential, the C 63 is happy to wag its tail with the best of them.

Despite carrying really rather serious speeds, the C’s is so remarkably well balanced it positively encourages you to push harder, without harbouring any nasty surprises.

Should I buy one?

Since first twisting the key I’ve changed my mind six times. C 63 or M3? Simple question, very tricky to answer.

Admittedly, our reception to the new M3, has been slightly luke warm, but that’s more to do with the high expectations we set for a new M product rather than any deficiency, for make no mistake the new M3 remains a superb enthusiast’s car. That the new Mercedes C 63 AMG runs the M3 so close, is perhaps, all you need to know – this is easily the best sporting car Mercedes has made in recent history.

If it were a V8 M3 CSL things would be much more straightforward, but its not, not yet. So for its bigger punch, meaner character, better steering and practically-as-good chassis I’ll give it to the Mercedes, at least until I change my mind again.

Jamie Corstorphine

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Jonny1wife 8 May 2008

Re: Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

I have had the fortunate experience of driving this car and I can say with much ease, that it is the most exciting car I have ever driven. I am hoping to have the pleasure of the experience again this weekend. I own a Mercedes, but I do not have a one inch penis.

Mr Angry 27 April 2008

Re: Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Ok, well the story is that I earn my living managing the singer Bonnie Tyler. Last year we did a private party event for the big bosses of Mercedes Benz and after we had played I started chatting and drinking with a guy with whom I got on very well. He turned out to be the chief engineer for the S Class and his company car is the C63. I went on about how much I wanted to try one and he then said that he could fix it for me to be loaned one for a short time in Germany. Last week we had two shows in Munich with Bonnie, again a corporate event but this time for the supermarkey firm EDEKA and saince we were going to be in Munich for three days I took him up on his very kind offer and he was as good as his word and fixed the whole thing up via the main MB dealer in Munich. So thanks a lot Frank Klein, I really do owe you one!

Mr Angry 26 April 2008

Re: Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

I've just been lucky enough to be lent (it's a long story) a C63 by Mercedes in Munich for three whole wonderful days. I cannot say enough good things about this car, it is just the best combination of effortless pootler and absolute V8 hot rod monster I have ever encountered. It has an engine note so glorious that it qualifies a music in my book & if you rev it in neutral the whole car shakes in that touring car manner.It looks absolutely fabulous and, in Munich at least, attracted a lot of admiring attention. With the drivers package fitted (which takes out the speed limiter) I maxed it at around 170mph on a derestricted autobahn with 3 people on board. I've driven the new M3 and, for me it just didn't feel as special or as joyfully a hooligan as the C63, although the interior of the mega merc could be a bit more plush for well over £50k, there was a bit too much black plastic on display on mine. But that is my only criticism, I'm totally in love and I want one!