The fight for compact-performance-sedan supremacy between luxury auto makers is back on, now that Mercedes-Benz has returned to the party with the rechristened Mercedes-AMG C 63 four-door, and its new, racier twin, the C 63 S. While rivals have been climbing down to smaller six-cylinder engines, the C 63 sedan continues to intimidate with big, burly V-8 engines and rear-wheel drive.
These engines are the heart of these vehicles: All are available in more fuel-efficient, quieter and more politically correct four- and six-cylinder versions that will cost less, drink less and growl its snarly DNA less. That's particularly true of the C-Class, Mercedes-Benz's long-time best-selling model, redesigned and refined for 2015, with the outgoing C 63 AMG sedan the best-selling AMG model ever. But buyers crave more than refinement and luxury toys – they want thrills.
Thus, with key rivals BMW, Audi and Cadillac all sticking to six-cylinder engines, the Mercedes-AMG (note the missing Benz moniker) C 63 is the only luxury sedan of this size to still offer a muscular V-8. And a more-powerful, twin-turbocharged one at that.
To smack the point home, Mercedes-Benz brought us to the south of Portugal to drive the white-knuckle-heavy Portimao circuit, leading us on an eye-watering 240-ish km/h rush down the long front straight, chasing the C 63 S version's top speed of 290 km/h, compared to the electronically limited 250 km/h Vmax of the C 63. The non-S is down 34 hp, but at 469, it'll still allow owners to talk smack to BMW M3, Cadillac ATS-V and especially Audi S4 drivers.
With such powerful beasts, there's no noticeable difference in either C 63's fierce acceleration, the S coming in at four seconds flat in the 0-100 km/h benchmark sprint, according to Mercedes-Benz's international performance stats. That's 0.1 seconds quicker to 100 km/h than the regular C 63, using the car's launch control system. Yet any Mercedes-AMG C 63 owner who wants to explore the C 63's full-performance thrust will want the S model, if not for the higher top speed then for the optional and massively powerful carbon-ceramic brakes.
Hitting the market in April, Canadian prices for the 2015 Mercedes-AMG C 63 and C 63 S still haven't been confirmed.
There's no denying that this car throws down an aggressive performance gauntlet for Mercedes-Benz and its AMG division, sacrificing all-wheel drive of most other AMG models on the altar of ultimate handling. When it's about all-out performance though, you have to be ready to go all out.
You'll like this car if ... You don't mind spending a little extra on fuel to hear that roar of a V-8 underfoot.
- Base price: N/A (2014 C 63 AMG sedan: $65,460)
- Engine: 4.0-litre twin turbocharged V-8
- Transmission: seven-speed paddle-shift automatic
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 8.2 (New European Driving Cycle), using premium gas
- Alternatives: Audi S4, BMW M3, Cadillac ATS-V
- Looks: From the aluminum-look lower-body accents to the hidden bolt pattern of the largest optional wheels that give it a race-car-like quick-change appearance, there’s an ever-teetering balance of aggressive sportiness and restrained sophistication.
- Interior: The floating tablet in the centre stack looks as if it’s ready to be pulled off for use inside the house. This car is not as warm and inviting as some other Mercedes interiors, but the adjustable seats offer a good compromise between sporty snugness and all-day comfort.
- Performance: As the only compact luxury sport sedan to offer more than 500 stampeding horsepower from a turbocharged V-8, the C 63 S is nibbling at the heels of long-established mid-size sport sedans such as the BMW M5, while offering a much more practical body than the Mercedes-AMG GT two-seater that also shares this engine. This S model features a unique Race mode designed for track use.
- Technology: There’s a sizable phalanx of advanced safety and convenience features available with the top-line C-Class sedan.
- Cargo: Its trunk is sizable and can fold down for extra capacity, but those looking for extra cargo room will have to look elsewhere.
Good looks, a reasonably comfortable ride for commuting and snarling response and handling when you want it.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.
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