At the 2018 New York International Auto Show in March, Mercedes-AMG took the wraps off the new C 63 range. Recently, the Mercedes-Benz sports car and high-performance brand invited us to Germany to be among the first ones to get hands behind the wheel of the 2018 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S at Bilster Berg. Here’s our take on the refreshed mid-size high-performance car.
How's it like on the outside?
The Mercedes-AMG C 63 doesn’t look all that different after the facelift, but it does have some intriguing changes. At the front, the new signature AMG Panamericana grille sits proudly in the centre. This forwards-inclined radiator grille consists of vertical louvres and aims to create a “shark nose” impression as in the Mercedes-AMG GT-R in which it made its standard-production debut.
Flanked by the new centrepiece, are new Multibeam LED headlamps that incorporate 84 individually controllable LEDs each. Below them, the outer air inlets have a redesigned transverse fin. Two more changes we’d like to point out are slightly more rounded bumper ends and a revised lower air intake. Moving to the rear, the new C 63 flaunts two remodelled twin tailpipe trim elements in high-gloss chrome and a more expressive diffuser.
As before, the Mercedes-AMG C 63 is made in four body styles: Saloon, Estate, Coupe and Cabriolet.
What’s new inside?
A change immediately noticeable inside the Mercedes-AMG C 63 is the fitment of the new 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster, which the driver can set to any of three AMG-specific display styles: Classic, Sporty or Supersport. It’s optional, and perhaps an irresistible one from the looks of it and the versatility it offers.
Another new noteworthy feature is the new AMG steering wheel with galvanised gearshift paddles for an even sportier driving style and built-in Touch Control buttons. The S model benefits from several more innovative elements, such as a round controller with an integral display beneath the right-hand spoke and two vertically positioned colour display buttons beneath the left-hand steering-wheel spoke.
In all four body styles, Mercedes-AMG offers a new interior trim in open-pore oak wood and open-pore walnut wood as well as a longitudinal-grain aluminium (doors)-black open-pore ash wood (centre console) combination. Of course, there’s a new upholstery option as well - magma grey/black with yellow contrast topstitching, seen in the images of the coupe version here (image gallery).
What’s new underneath the body?
The new Mercedes-AMG C 63 is still the only model among its chief rivals (BMW M3/BMW M4 and Audi RS 5) to use a V8 engine. It’s the same M177 4.0-litre biturbo unit from the old Mercedes-AMG C 63. As before, there are two models: C 63 and C 63 S. The maximum power and maximum torque have remained unchanged, and the engine is well capable of making the car a fire-breather whenever you need to.
In the C 63, the M177 engine produces 476 PS and 650 Nm of torque. In the C 63 S, it is tuned it to deliver 510 PS and 700 Nm. A higher power output would have put the specs dangerously close to that of the Mercedes-AMG GT R, to which the torque output (of C 63 S) already matches.
Mercedes-AMG has, however, introduced a new transmission with the mid-cycle update. Gone is the 7-speed torque converter automatic transmission, and taking its place is a quicker, 9-speed unit featuring a wet clutch. The standard rear-axle limited-slip differential is now electronically controlled even in the base model.
Depending on the body style, the C 63 S takes 3.9 seconds for a 0-100 km/h sprint, and the C 63 does the same in 4.0 seconds. The C 63 S has a top speed of 290 km/h (Saloon and Coupe)/280 km/h (Estate and Cabriolet). The C 63 maxes out at 250 km/h, but there is an option to increase it. Needless to say, these are electronically limited top speeds.
There are six drive modes as opposed to five in the old Mercedes-AMG C 63: Slippery (new), Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual and Race (new). Thankfully, our test units were in the S specification that includes a round controller with an integral display beneath the right-hand steering wheel spoke. The driver can use this little knob to quickly select the drive mode on the go without taking a hand off the steering wheel and fiddling around the centre console for making the selection using the switch, among other switchable functions.
Cruising around the town roads with frequently changing speed limits in Bad Driburg, we drove initially in the Comfort mode, in which the transmission shifts to and stays in higher gears more often than not. Cylinder deactivation technology makes the drive very quiet, and you’d barely feel that you’re in an otherwise growly AMG. There are just so many gears to use, you’d find yourself driving in a different gear almost every few seconds in urban driving, but won’t notice that until you see the count in the cluster; the new transmission is really swift.
A quick flick to the Sport mode and the hand-built V8 engine starts showing its true colours. The transmission holds on to the gears longer, allowing the engine to stay in the higher rev range and ready to unleash power faster.
For even more spirited driving, there’s a Sport+ mode. Of course, there is an Individual mode as well, should you feel the need to adjust the response of the drive system, suspension, transmission, exhaust system and ESP.
The Race mode brings us to our track experience. Developed mainly for closed-off race tracks, this mode makes the Mercedes-AMG C 63 an untamed beast by setting all the parameters for maximum performance. With the abundant power the C 63 S has to offer, it can get a little scary on the narrow stretches and blind corners of the Bilster Berg track. The car doesn’t feel out of place and is very well planted, though, unless you want to deliberately let its tail spin out, and that brings us to a new feature called AMG Dynamics.
AMG Dynamics is a dynamic handling control system that extends the functions of the ESP. Using data gathered from various sensors, it works on keeping a proper and desired level of torque distribution on the rear axle.
There are four modes of AMG Dynamics: Basic, Advanced, Pro and Master (C 63 S). The Basic mode is assigned to the Slippery and Comfort drive modes, while the Advanced mode gets activated on selecting the Sport drive mode. The Pro and Master modes are reserved for the Sport+ and Race drive modes respectively. Switching on the Master mode requires switching the ESP to ESP Sport handling mode or ESP Off. Also new, is the nine-stage AMG Traction Control (C 63 S), with level nine allowing the maximum slip.
To sum up the drive, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG C 63 is a lot of fun to drive and packs substantial upgrades over the old model. While one way of seeing it is a little more complicated, the other is more versatile, and the extremes of these two aspects are opposite ends. Novice drivers have the higher refinement to appreciate, while pros benefit from more extensive customisation choices related to the driving experience. The enhanced safety, on the other hand, is equally advantageous to both.
Should you buy it?
The 2018 Mercedes-AMG C 63 is one of the best mid-size high-performance cars in the business. It’s as brutal as before but more poised, as and when you want it. It’s plusher and offers more convenience with the virtual instrument cluster and the configurable controls on the new steering wheel, and it’s brainier with new features for handling and safety. Also, it’s the only one in the segment available in four different body styles. Prices aren’t out yet, but we are very pleased with the new model overall regardless.
The new Mercedes-AMG C 63 will likely go on sale in India in 2019 and come in exclusively the top-of-the-line C 63 S model. Our market will undoubtedly get the Saloon version. While the Estate and Cabriolet versions are highly unlikely, the Coupe version with wider tracks and tyres is under consideration. We expect the price(s) to fall in the INR 1.25-1.5 crore (ex-showroom) range.