The AMG family line-up has a new member; a two-door coupe which joins the C-Class lineup. One of the latest additions to the German automaker’s ever-expanding stable of AMG performance models shares much of its brisk hardware with the 2012 C63 AMG Sedan, which also received an upgrade over the Summer.
The C63 AMG Coupe comes rather late to the market, despite this, it does fill a noticeable gap found alongside the BMW M3. With the current coupe version of the M-Powered 3-Series ageing, the Germans from Stuttgart decided to release an AMG version of their Coupe as a direct answer to the evocative BMW M3 Coupe. For us, the chance to experience the ass-happy antics, bludgeoning sound track and rubber-devouring, petrol-glugging character of this AMG sports car.
The basic engine in both the coupe and sedan C63 AMG models is the familiar AMG-tuned 6.2 liter V8, which delivers 451 horsepower and 600Nm of torque. The optional performance package, which was fitted to our test car pushes the output to 480hp at 6,000rpm, some 66hp more than the M3’s 4.0 liter V8. The top speed sees an increase from 250km/h to 280km/h and the 0-100km/h acceleration time is trimmed from 4.5 to 4.4 seconds. The package offers the same pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft used in the SLS AMG, but gets its own beefed-up front brakes, carbon fiber boot lip spoiler, and an Alcantara and leather-rimmed steering wheel with a squared-off bottom.
Some may wonder why the coupe C63 AMG doesn’t feature the new 5.5 liter twin-turbo V8, which is currently the choice of engine as far as AMG engineers are concerned. Due to the presence of turbos the new V8 wouldn’t fit into coupe’s engine bay. So instead we were left with an old-school V8 on four wheels equipped with loads of torque and horsepower transferred entirely to the rear-wheels. A formula often referred to as one of the most joyful emotional experiences a driver can have in a sports car.
AMG have hooked the engine up to its Speedshift seven-speed transmission with a wet startup clutch replacing the torque converter to improve efficiency and quicker shifts, and a rather complicated Race Start launch function which doesn’t fit the raw character of the C63. Four different gearbox selections are available – comfort, sport, sport+ and manual – all controllable via aluminum paddle shifters behind the wheel and the central gear selection lever.
Surprisingly there is no AMG button, there are no special modes, and no buttons to change calibrations to the setup of car. There are only two choices. You are limited to changing the shift speed via the rotary dial on the transmission tunnel and the ESP threshold between ESP mode, a Sport mode and no ESP – selected after holding down the button for five seconds. But that is it! So let’s pick the first one. The Comfort mode is what you expect, nothing more and nothing less, just smooth changes and throttle response. Sport offers slightly more revs in every gear, but Sport+ is the choice for when you want to focus on taking an excellent turn-in and practice your racing lines. The overall combination is one of a correct exhaust tune, shift times of up to 100ms and the power distribution whenever you ask for it.
That brings us to the final mode, Manual. Only applicable if you feel the need to use the paddles behind the steering wheel. But there is no real need for it, because S+ is just as good at holding gears and picking the perfect shift points, so why would you use it? In addition, while down- shifting you must wait until one gear has engaged before you can select another, this is unlike most dual clutch manuals, where you can double or even triple tap a paddle and receive an instant result. So in the end we positioned the gear switch in S+ mode, tapped the ESP into Sport mode and focused on the track-biased suspension setup.
The handling is a two-sided affair, it is pretty much as you would expect from a modern rear-wheel drive car with loads of torque and performance. Safe, secure and confidence inspiring with all the electronics switched on, or hugely sideways and smoky with them turned off. As well-balanced as the C63 coupe is, it still feels like power, grip, and a stiff chassis are AMG’s strong points, not agility, technical achievements and gismos. At higher speeds the suspension provides outstanding body control and a superb ride. It really encourages you to push harder at the sort of speeds where you might otherwise consider backing away from the throttle. But the setup is too hard for daily drives. It simply delivers some nasty thuds when you hit an average-size pothole. In this case an adjustable damper setting would come in handy.
On the inside, the C63 Coupe gets the same new dash, steering wheel, and seats as the sedan version. You either love it or hate it. The overall experience of what is available for the interior is rather scarce. The content of the central screen doesn’t offer the latest in technical highlights, nor do the controls feel logical. The center panels of the new seats are covered in a synthetic suede-like material, referred to as Dinamica in the brochure. The cabin has richly upholstered door panels as well as aluminum and gloss black trim. The high-side seats are wonderfully shaped and offer a decent positioning behind the wheel. The two-door Coupe comes standard with a panoramic glass sunroof. The glass top helps brighten the interior, but you would rather keep it closed than open. Because when opened, the protruding wind deflector isn’t a pretty sight.
Video by Claus Moller, Bil Magasinet Denmark
On the outside, the C63 AMG Coupe is lovely car to look at, especially in the white trim of our test car. The AMG Coupe differs from the normal model on parts features like the LED daytime driving lights, the heavily contoured aluminum hood, its bigger 18 inch AMG alloy wheels painted titanium gray with 235/40R18 front tires and 255/35R18 rears, flared wings with matching sills, additional air intakes, and spoiler at the front. The Performance package provides Brembo brake calipers and a carbon fiber lip spoiler on the trunk to the exterior looks.
In the end, we loved the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe for one simple reason. It was hard to get out of the driver’s seat. The handling, performance and wonderful precision of the steering are a great plus for the package. That ecstatic sound track provides for an addictive extra. This AMG sports car is not for techies or eco-weenies, but focuses on the hardcore diehards that love to go sideways and could not care about the less than comfortable ride inside this dramatic tail-happy rubber-burning monster. A comparison with the M3 is all that’s required to finish off this review, and it’s with a conflicted heart that we’d reconmend the German from Bavaria, simply because of its all-round character.