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.