2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 / C63 S-Model Sedan

2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 / C63 S-Model Sedan 2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 / C63 S-Model Sedan
First Drive Review

Anger-management therapy seeks to help control emotion. Anger will not control us, anger will not define us, just count backwards from 10—that sort of thing. Mercedes-AMG doesn’t appear to be interested in any of that. Fine by us. We like an angry AMG, and the angrier the better, in fact, and no car better personified vehicular anger than the previous-generation C63.

Recapturing that essence for the all-new C63 wasn’t a given, though, as the clean-sheet C-class sedan introduced last year vectored a course into more luxury-oriented territory, being quieter and more subdued than before and with styling heavily influenced by the mother of all vehicular refinement, the S-class. It turns out we needn’t have worried about AMG finding a ball of hate lurking within the C: After a brief drive of European-spec models, we can conclude that the new C63 sedan is still pretty pissed off.

As Before, the “63” Means Very Little

The C63 also remains a tortured soul. Benz is still calling it a C63 even though the V-8 engine has been downsized from the epic, naturally aspirated 6.2 of yore to a twin-turbo 4.0-liter unit. (This engine will also power a new C63 coupe and Euro-only wagon, as well as perhaps a convertible.) Yet, in feel and sound, the 4.0-liter does a strong impression of the old 6.2. The new engine shares much with the M178 unit in the AMG GT, and through clever tuning of turbocharger boost, ignition, and fuel mapping, the blown V-8 ably mimics the old engine’s big-displacement response and linear rush of acceleration. A series of valves in the tuned exhaust open and close to play the anguished big V-8 jazz we loved from the old C63, and we didn’t detect any whistle from the two turbos that snuggle together in the valley of the 90-degree V-8. This is good, because whistling doesn’t suggest anger. The riflelike reports you hear from the quad pipes on full-throttle upshifts and under engine braking, now that’s anger.

The V-8 makes 469 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque in the basic C63. Pay a bit more—figure $10K or so, although pricing hasn’t been announced yet—and AMG will send more air into the engine to the tune of 503 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. Four variations of the 6.2-liter were previously available, making from 451 to 510 horsepower, but the turbocharged V-8 makes more torque than all of them. Weight may be down from the nearly 4000-pound curb weight of the old C63, but we won’t know for sure until we park the car on our own scales; for now, we estimate the U.S. version of the new C63 to come in at right about 4000 pounds.

Numbers Game

For those with an interest in top speed, the C63 S’s is a governed 180 mph, while the regular car hits an electronic wall at 155. Both variations have a seven-speed automatic with a multiclutch pack instead of a torque converter. Launch control is standard and makes claimed 3.9- and 4.0-second runs to 60 mph easy and repeatable. Shifts are quick but without the instantaneous snap of the dual-clutch seven-speed in the AMG GT. Wheel-mounted paddles can override the gearbox’s software and there’s a manual mode that will provide additional control. BMW’s M3 continues to offer the ultimate one-mode gear-ratio control device, the six-speed manual transmission. It might not be as quick as a modern automatic, but there’s no computer between you and the transmission. There’s never been a C63 with a three-pedal manual, and that makes us a little angry.

A thick-rimmed steering wheel swings a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sports that are attached to an AMG-exclusive front suspension. (The Michelins are fitted out back, too, of course.) Assist effort changes depending on which of the four driving modes are selected. In any mode, the steering has direct feedback and reliably reports the distress of the Mercedes-spec rubber—a distinct advantage over the M3.

Front-end grip is strong, even on track. The AMG’s front stance is wider than the standard C-class, and while the rear suspension retains the C-class architecture, it’s tuned specifically for the 63. (The rear end also features a limited-slip differential.) A three-mode electronically controlled suspension varies the damping in degrees that range from firm to harsh. But even on the 19-inch wheels that come on the S version, the ride is better than that of the old C63. One gripe is that the Michelins hum loudly on most types of pavement.

No AWD Here, Bub

With the exception of the AMG GT, four-wheel drive has proliferated across the AMG lineup, but the C63 is exclusively rear-drive. We applaud that decision. It makes for a more interesting car. There are also these reasons: Despite the limited-slip differential—mechanical in the base C63 and electronically controlled in the S-model—it takes patience and skill to apply the right amount of power on corner exit, it’s harder but more gratifying to launch from a stop, you can do burnouts, and it means the C63 won’t suffer fools gladly, especially those of the type who completely shut off the two-stage stability control. Don’t have the talent? You will feel the wrath of a sideways C63.

Heavily bolstered AMG sport seats are optional and keep gluteal sliding to a minimum. Contrasting stitching, piano-black trim, and unique gauge faces with carbon-fiber accents are the major AMG-specific touches inside. Rear-seat space remains tight despite a three-inch wheelbase stretch over the last C-class.

On the outside, the AMG version has wider front fenders with subtle flaring and a menacing gape below the front bumper, yet it can’t match the aggressive look of the old C63 and its strakes, slats, and flares. But despite the old car’s meaner countenance, the new iteration is definitely angrier. Indeed, if the 2015 C63 attended any anger-management sessions, it only went to one, stayed for perhaps five minutes, threw a chair through the window, and stormed out. This makes us very happy.