It was the kind of car that came as standard with bikers camped expectantly at the rear quarter, waiting for the chance to go flat-chat bonkers in your jet wash. It wasn't a match for the BMW M3 in handling terms, but what came between the madness hardly seemed to matter. It was badass.
For its turbocharged replacement, AMG has opted to clamp down harder on the bit. Where once there was depthless largesse, there is now a hard-edged leanness, characterised chiefly by more speed, less burble, better grip and wider discomfort.
The latter rears its head on Scottish B-roads quicker than an appreciation of the new power delivery; the C 63, even in Comfort mode, is unable to mitigate the crash-bash of a badly scarred length of asphalt without prodding its occupants.
Repeat customers may well be familiar with the level of coarseness, but Mercedes buyers in general are certainly going to notice a higher level of vibration and road noise than normal; even the dashboard has a habit of groaning at the greater stress being put through it.
Fortunately, where it counts, the C 63 is still ferociously on message. I'm still not convinced the new V8 generates quite the sweaty, frenzied ardour of its predecessor - and its snare-drum warble occasionally feels more like an additive than an organic ingredient - but nevertheless, its advantages are startling.
King-size displacement meant that the old V8 was hardly tardy from low crank speeds, yet even its comparative earnestness is swept aside by the unceasing zeal of the new C 63‘s tag-teaming turbochargers.
Best of all, its naturally linear forced induction properties have been steeply inclined to give you something to build up to - not, perhaps, a rival to the high-rev venom of the M4’s twin-turbo straight six, but certainly a prodigal pace-setter in the AMG mould. It's helped no end by the transformation of the gearbox from unwilling slusher to crisp and responsive participant.
AMG has mated the brawny, breakneck powertrain to a similarly thick-necked chassis. Stepping up from default briskness to immoderately fast is easier than it was before, and conspicuously less hard work than it remains in the M3.
The speed-sensitive steering, while not faultless, is fast and meatily weighted and - thanks in part to all that latent stiffness - keeps you solidly connected to the C 63's abundant grip. The real pleasure, though, is found, without ever having to look hard for it, in the nose-to-tail cornering balance.
The C 63 makes the transition from neutrality to rear-end involvement so progressive that it almost qualifies as gentlemanly. Or it would if it didn’t occur in a swirl of bass notes, and as a precursor to that glut of mid-range torque.