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Thread: 2009 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    The Land of The Edentulites

    2009 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

    There is much to be said for the wolf in sheep's clothing. Even more to be said for stuffing a huge (6.3 liters!) V-8 into a medium-sized sedan.

    Just one little acronym will do: C63 AMG


    The C63 AMG is a C-class sedan hot-rodded to the nth degree by Mercedes-Benz' performance arm, AMG. From its custom bodywork to its heavily bolstered race buckets to its 451 hp, 6.3 liter V-8, the only thing it shares with a standard C-Class sedan is the "C".

    MSRP is $55,100 (plus $2,100 "gas guzzler" tax). This is about $25k more than a regular C300.

    And worth every penny, in my book!


    The C63 is a new entrant for Mercedes. It's also one of just two medium-sized luxury sedans available with 6-liter-plus V-8 engines - the other being the $58,575 Cadillac CTS-V.


    A hand-built 6.3 liter V-8 is the centerpiece of the C63. Each engine is put together by a single master technician, whose signature you'll find on a special plate under the hood. The gigantic V-8 - one of the largest available in a passenger car since the '70s - is all-aluminum, has dual overhead cams, a variable intake manifold to enhance airflow at all engine speeds - and produces 451 hp and 443 lbs.-ft. of torque.

    It is a unique powerpant that shares no parts with other Mercedes-Benz V-8s.

    The standard transmission is a custom-calibrated seven-speed automatic transmission with three driver-selectable modes, Comfort, Sport and Manual - with the latter actuated by F1-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

    A manual transmission, however, is not offered.

    Performance is olympian - as you'd expect from this kind of power stuffed into a car that weighs only 3,600 lbs. Zero to 60 in just over 4 seconds. Top speed, 155 mph - electronically limited. (Get rid of the electronic nanny and top speed climbs to 175-plus.)

    Gas mileage is what you should expect - 12 in city driving, 19 on the highway. If you drive like a little old lady. But if you drive like the little old lady from Pasadena, expect single digits.


    This thing's a bullet - one that also goes around corners almost as ferociously as it shrieks down a straight line. The C63's heavily modified C chassis has a 1.4 inch wider front track, both to accommodate the much larger wheels/tires (18x8 inch AMG mags shod with Pirelli P Zero 40-series ZR-rated rubber) than are fitted to a standard C-Class and to reduce wheel loading during high-speed cornering. The much-modded front suspension is covered up by equally modified sheetmetal, including flared front fenders, power-domed hood and unique-to-the C63 front end - with ducts built into the corners to direct airflow over the supplemental high-capacity oil coolers. The driver is connected to all this via AMG-tuned speed sensitive steering - which delivers immediate feedback and feel as precise as the synchronized aerobatics of the Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team.

    The rear suspension is similarly modified, with an extra half-inch of track and more camber built into it. Heavy-duty axles feed the power to even beefier 255/35 series ZR-18 tires, with the V-8's exhaust barking through four oversized chrome-plated tips jutting angrily out of the lower rear fascia.

    Suitably enormous 14.2 inch drilled front rotors with massive six piston AMG calipers (up front) and 13 inch rear discs with four piston AMG calipers round out this most impressive package.

    Unlike BMW's M cars, Mercedes' AMG models are known for their lack of a manual transmission - a situation that's a little strange given the ultra-ultra performance nature of these beasts and also given that lesser C-Class sedans can be ordered with a manual.

    However, the AMG-calibrated seven-speed automatic is a magnifico that has to be experienced to be appreciated. It's the equal of any manual when it comes to the ferocity of its shift quality (in Manual or Sport mode) and superior when it comes to perfectly matching revs/gearing down - and holding it - during extreme high-performance driving, without the driver having to even think about it. The seven speed is also quicker - and it's more consistent.

    And behind the titanic V-8s's tidal wave of torque, very hard to say a single bad thing about.

    Just be careful about turning off the ESP stability control all the way - especially on slick roads. There is so much power on hand that it's very easy to bust the back end loose during a full-throttle 1-2 (or even 2-3) upshift.

    There are other cars with similar power, usually made by smaller engines supplemented by turbos or superchargers. But enormous, naturally aspirated V-8s have their own special charms. You have merely to tap the gas pedal to get instant access to the torque equivalent of two or three small V-6s. The sensation of the entire front end raising up as you ease into the gas pedal is something that only a mega-cube V-8 can deliver.

    This car can lay 50 yards of rubber if you punch it from a standstill. "Acceleration" is a completely inadequate term. You will believe that faster than light travel is possible.


    While the C63 has specific bodywork that distinguishes it from a regular C-Class, you still run a reasonably low profile - especially from 50 yards out. The flared fenders are subtle; the lowered stance discreet. To someone who knows cars, it's easy to ID a C63. But most people - including most cops - will just see a Mercedes sedan. When you're running 10 over the limit with four other cars and there's a cop coming the other way with his radar humming, who do you think he's going to draw a bead on?

    Remember: Radar cannot distinguish a specific car in a group. The cop has to decide which car is the speeding car. If several cars are doing about the same speed, he has to pick one to pull over. Guess which one he'll pick.

    If there's a flashy sports car - or anything with a huge wing or hood scoop, the driver's toast. (That includes drivers of the CTS-V, which looks like it's flexing in the mirror.)

    The C63's ability to fade into the background is very reassuring given what it is capable of. And what is the point of having such a capable car if you cannot use that capability without feeling that every cop you pass is giving you the Hard Stare and just looking for an excuse to pull you over?

    Inside, the C63 is differentiated from the regular C-Class with its own gauge cluster, including 200 mph speedo and tach with 7,200 RPM redline - as well as the expected brushed aluminum trim facings and leather. But the race-ready AMG sport buckets are what truly set the car's interior apart. Heavily bolstered sides with electric adjustment keep you cinched in place during extreme high-G cornering. They are also super comfortable on top of being super supportive, which is what impressed me the most. Often, serious race-type seats are great for a track day - terrible coming home from the track. These were among the best seats I have ever had the privilege of trying out - and I have tried thousands over the years.

    Another point to mention: The current C-Class, though still Mercedes' smallest sedan, is pretty much a mid-sized car these days. Or at least, close to one. I mention this because the original C was definitely a compact. The current model - including the C63 - is almost ten inches longer overall, with three inches more wheelbase (and width) than the old C-Class - so it has a roomier interior that's comparable to current mid-size cars' interiors in terms of passenger space, especially rear seat leg and head room. It also looks much more substantial from the outside.

    Trunk space is still on the small side, however - just 12.4 cubic feet.

    So, pack light.


    Cars that have been hopped-up after the fact sometimes look a little cheesy or are otherwise not quite right. AMG cars (like BMW's M cars) always exhibit superb integration of the upgrades. In truth, the C63 has been so extensively re-engineered it should be considered a separate model in its own right and not merely a hot-rodded C-Class. And like BMW's M cars, any Benz with an AMG package is going to hold its value exceptionally well - and could become a collectible in future years.

    As far as safety: The only thing you need to worry about is getting caught. Accidents are rendered unlikely by state of the art ESP stability control, some of the best brakes you'll find in anything less than a full-on race car (with ABS and Brake Assist, of course) and a "smart" cruise control system that keeps you at precisely the speed you set - no more, no less. If something should go wrong despite all this, you have a cocoon of air bags for protection - including pelvic bags built into the seats to avoid a broken hip if someone T-bones you after running a red light.

    Five star crash ratings across the board.


    The C63 is a true exotic in terms of its performance and its AMG heritage - and unique in terms of its hand-built, super-sized V-8.

    A CTS-V needs the engineering Viagra of a supercharger to exceed the C63's power output and though it's a little quicker, it's also a lot flashier - which is fine if you want to get noticed but not so fine if you'd prefer to be more subtle about what you're up to.
    Last edited by Eric; 04-04-2009 at 06:58 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Jul 2006
    Raleigh NC, USA
    Typo: discrete should be discreet.

    I saw one at the Raleigh auto show a few months ago (might even have been the same one from the press fleet that you drove). There is very little room left under the hood. The monster V8 takes up all of it. Sticker was $54k with the gas-guzzler tax.

    Ahh, if I were to win the Powerball..

    Chip H.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    Aug 2006

    C63 AMG Mercedes
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  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    The Land of The Edentulites
    "I saw one at the Raleigh auto show a few months ago (might even have been the same one from the press fleet that you drove). There is very little room left under the hood. The monster V8 takes up all of it. Sticker was $54k with the gas-guzzler tax.

    Ahh, if I were to win the Powerball..

    Chip H."

    For perspective, 6.3 liters is very close to the size of a mid-late '70s Trans-Am's 400 cubic incher!

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