Teutonic Road Runner

From its bellowing rumble to its utter disdain for traveling anything below an Autobahn-like gate, Mercedes-AMG GmbH's '08 C63 sedan is a court date waiting to happen. No less than three members of our convoy of test-driving journalists were ticketed by Arizona's finest for abusing the posted limits. Not that policing of the desert playground near Paradise Valley isn't a bit overzealous the newest

Mike Sutton

April 1, 2008

3 Min Read
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From its bellowing rumble to its utter disdain for traveling anything below an Autobahn-like gate, Mercedes-AMG GmbH's '08 C63 sedan is a court date waiting to happen. No less than three members of our convoy of test-driving journalists were ticketed by Arizona's finest for abusing the posted limits.

Not that policing of the desert playground near Paradise Valley isn't a bit overzealous — the newest member of the AMG family just loves to run.

By stuffing a big 6.2L V-8 into the already-fresh C-Class, the C63 is given a much larger 451-hp stick to swing at the all-new 8-cyl. BMW M3 and Lexus IS-F.

Both the Bimmer's frenzied, 8,400-rpm 4.0L and the Lexus' torque-mongering 5.0L have nothing on this AMG mill. It makes power at all bandwidths, with a soundtrack worthy of NASCAR.

Mercedes' AMG-tuned SpeedShift 7-speed automatic shuttles power to the rear, where 18-in. Pirelli PZeros routinely are reduced to stripes on the pavement.

This joyous disregard for rubber is a welcome change from Mercedes, which long has pushed electronic-stability controls that cannot be muted entirely.

In the C63, ESC modes include on, sport and off; otherwise known as safe, controlled tail-wagging and full-on drift.

Although not as intimate as the BMW's 6-speed manual, nor as fast as some dual-clutch units, the SpeedShift automatic feels sharp and never saps the fun out of blipping up and down the gears with the steering wheel-mounted paddles.

But the intimacy of the experience — or lack thereof, compared with the edgy M3 — is less an issue because the new IS-F is more the C63's match, not to mention the one most likely to be cross-shopped.

Mercedes says the C63 is all new from the A-pillar forward, and digging into a hard corner reveals the wider front and rear tracks and stiffened suspenders do wonders for improving grip and road feel.

A reinforced axle, additional suspension camber and big, fade-free brakes contribute to what may be some of the best road-holding yet from Stuttgart.

All this drama resides in a stylish body kit, with four AMG-stamped cannons sounding the horn of thrust out back.

Equal amounts of pizzazz and restraint spice up the interior, highlighted by severely bolstered sport seats capable of securing front occupants in a centrifuge.

As an added bonus, AMG will offer on '09 models a performance package ($3,900) consisting of a more aggressive suspension, limited-slip differential, lightweight compound brakes and an Alcantara-lined tiller.

Less than $55,000 will be needed to get into a bare C63 when it hits U.S. dealers this month. However, adding leather and multimedia packages easily will raise the sticker beyond $60,000.

The sum is similar to that of the M3 sedan and IS-F and is impressive for a luxury sedan that Mercedes says will hit 60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.3 seconds.

The C63 comes off as the most effective compromise between performance, luxury and style in its class, and it's by far the most powerful.

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'08 Mercedes C63 AMG

Vehicle type: Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger sedan

Engine: 6.2L DOHC V-8

Power (SAE net): 451 hp @ 6,800 rpm

Torque: 443 lb.-ft. (601 Nm) @ 5,000 rpm

Compression ratio: 11.3:1

Transmission: SpeedShift Plus 7-speed auto

Wheelbase: 108.7 ins. (276 cm)

Overall length: 186.0 ins. (472 cm)

Overall width : 70.7 ins. (180 cm)

Curb weight: 3,649 lbs./ 1,665 kg

Base price: $54,625

Fuel economy: 12/19 mpg (20/12 L/100 km)

Competition: Audi RS4, BMW M3, Lexus IS-F

[+]PROS/CONS[-]

Big-block rumble

Big-block thirst

Vice-grip seats

Numb sense of speed

Bang for buck

Traction limited

Read more about:

2008
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