In the world of small performance sedans, nothing reigns supreme as much as the AMG C63 S does. If you’re in the market for such a vehicle, you might as well get the best one. Trouble is, this car promises so much that it almost seems like it can’t possibly be real. It’s been overhyped to the point where I’m even starting to question if it’s real. What I’m saying is, can the C63 S really be as good as the stats and everyone else claims? To find out we took one for a test drive in Qatar, testing it in the city as well as an empty stretch of road in the North.
Visually, the C63 S is a lot more appealing than any of the other German offerings (M3, RS4). You may disagree, but the combination of smooth lines and curved edges really works. The M3 is a lot sharper in some areas, but not necessarily in a good way. The BMW looks more aftermarket than the Benz does, especially with the massive flared arches front and back. It has a certain boy-racer feel, let’s just put it that way. Although you can tell this is no ordinary C-Class either, it’s a lot more subtle. The attention to detail seems to be on a completely different level as well.
Our example came finished in brilliant matt gray, giving the car that aggressive edge without becoming too obnoxious. The front fascia is arguably its best side, but I really like how to entire roof slopes down to meet that rear end. It hasn’t got a massive spoiler ruining the looks, and even though there are big quad tail pipes out back, they’re not sticking out too much.
As a design exercise, I genuinely prefer the C63 over any of the other competitors. It manages to give off a luxurious and sporty vibe at the same time, something neither of its two German rivals can. Although it’s available in over a dozen different colors, matt grey is the one to go for. You can opt for the traditional white or black, but grey really suits the car’s character. My personal tip would be to avoid getting the side stripes since they mess with its lines. It doesn’t have to be shouty because that’s not the C63’s thing. Keep it clean and simple and you can’t go wrong, I promise.
Mercedes is in an interior sweet spot at the moment. Most of the cabin is identical to the standard C-Class, which is to say brilliant. It utilizes the same design on the dash, the center console and most of the door panels, but obviously you get more of everything. Mercedes hasn’t spared any cost in using high-quality materials throughout the entire cabin. We’re talking expensive wood, genuine leather, brushed metallic inserts… the whole package. The fit and finish is bespoke too, it feels like it could last several decades which I’m sure it actually can.
Being the flagship AMG model, the C63 S gets a custom instrument cluster with the dials turned up to 11, a unique AMG-badged steering wheel with a center stripe, and special performance seats. They offer immense lateral support but more importantly, lower the feeling of center of gravity by placing you lower in the cabin. It’s as though you’re sitting inside the car rather than on top of it. For a performance sedan, that’s not an easy thing to accomplish.
Elsewhere it’s pretty much standard C-Class. There’s just as much space both inside the cabin and in the trunk. If you want you can specify over several dozen different options, but even as base the thing comes loaded. Unless you absolutely want to have everything, you can just spec the basic things and keep the cost down.
Engine and Performance
As great as it is both inside and out, the C63 S’ crowning jewel is its engine. When Mercedes dropped the 6.2-liter naturally-aspirated V8 along with the last-gen C63, we all thought it was the end of the crazy AMG era. Turns out, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Mercedes has shoehorned the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 from the AMG GT in the small sedan platform, with minimal intrusion. The ‘base’ model makes 469 horsepower and 649 Nm of torque, but S variants like the one we’re driving put out an astonishing 503 horsepower and 699 Nm of torque. Although the small increase in power is nice, that torque figure absolutely dwarfs anything this segment has to offer. The M3, by comparison, makes 550 Nm of torque.
The figures speak for themselves. The sprint to 100 km/h takes 3.8 seconds and the top speed is electronically limited to 290 km/h. The way it gets there really boggles your mind however. It’s so effortless and smooth that you don’t realize the speed you’re doing until you look down at the speedometer. On the road, the torque figure dominates the entire driving experience. Put your foot down and the thing just takes off. Any speed, any gear, and any revs. It feels electric in that sense.
The sound however is anything but electric. If anything, the new car sounds even better than the old one because you get the added pops and turbo spools you just didn’t with the last naturally-aspirated unit. At its core though, this is still a muscle car. In an era where everyone is downsizing both in cylinders and in displacement, Mercedes is the last of the German manufacturers to offer a V8 performance sedan. If that’s not reason to celebrate I don’t know what is.
The chassis is predictable and neutral. Old AMGs were incredibly tail happy and difficult to drive quick. The M cars always had them pinned in that respect. Not so with the newest C63 S. It’s got loads of grip and finding the limits of it is impossible on the public road. It’s still a hooligan at heart though and will light up the rears with no issue. It’s a civilized hooligan now however, and you get to choose your moments.
This has to be the best small performance sedan I’ve ever driven. You can keep your M3’s and RS4’s, because nothing sounds and goes as well as the C63 S. The brilliant cabin is just the added cherry on top of the cake.