Can Mercedes more efficient biturbo engine provide the same thrills as the old 6.2-litre V8? The experts at Car & Driving check out the Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe.
Ten Second Review
The C63 coupe is Mercedes' flagship small coupe offering and this generation ushers in the first ever turbocharged engine in a C63 as well as a more cosseting ride and suave, sophisticated styling. Despite being the most sporting variant in the C-Class range, the coupe is designed to be the most luxurious and comfortable small coupe in its segment.
Mercedes have finally given in to emissions legislation and discontinued the naturally aspirated engines from the C-Class AMG coupe range. This means the iconic C63 no longer comes with the incredible 'M156' 6.2-litre V8 of its predecessor. Instead, Mercedes have downsized to a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with two different power outputs. This is still a significantly bigger and more powerful engine than any of its current rivals so the early signs are good. Even the lesser-powered version still comfortably outpunches its closest rivals. The previous generation C63 AMG coupe was a great car but its styling split opinion and the lack of space in the rear was something of a disappointment. Mercedes have addressed these issues by ensuring this model is more spacious, smoother riding and even more expensively styled. Inside the C-Class is another area that has undergone a transformation; it retains the quality of the previous car but adds a healthy dose of style and technology.
Though the C63 is considered a sports coupe, it's not as focused on outright handling ability as certain rivals. The optional AIRMATIC air suspension system says a lot about what it believes customers want from their Mercedes coupe. The AIRMATIC suspension also features self-levelling for optimum comfort even when the vehicle is fully loaded. The suspension itself is a four-link system for the front axle and a five link at the back, allowing greater control over the movement of each wheel for a better ride quality and more sure-footed handling. To help put the power down, a mechanical limited slip differential is standard on the C63, while the more powerful C63 S gets an electronic item. Both items are fitted to a C63-specific rear axle. Drivers can choose between four driving modes on the C63 and five on the C63 S. The bi-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine looks to be a suitable replacement on first glance. It not only produces more power and torque than its predecessor, but also more than any of its current rivals. Choose the C63 S and you'll have the full fat 517PS and 650Nm of torque, whereas the standard model has to make do with just 483PS and 600Nm. Any worries of forced induction ruining the soundtrack are quickly dispelled - this turbocharged V8 sounds fantastic and with the torque coming in so much lower, the performance is not only stronger but more accessible.
Design and Build
To cope with the massive amounts of power and torque on offer, the C63 has a wider track, AMG RIDE CONTROL suspension with electronically controlled dampers and various other suspension tweaks to maximise grip and comfort. The engine is the same 4.0-litre unit found in the GT sports car and also comes in two power outputs. Its turbochargers are inside the vee, which provides the best possible response as well as making the engine very compact and having relatively low emissions. Wider wheel arches provide the necessary space for tyres of up to 255mm at the front and 285mm at the back, which are vital for maximising traction and agility. Each model has a different set of wheels and tyres; the standard C63 gets 10 spoke 18-inch alloys whereas the more powerful S model gets larger 5-twin-spoke, lightweight 19-inch items. The aluminium bonnet of the C63 is 60mm longer than that of the regular C-Class coupe and has two distinctive powerdomes which gives the front end a very muscular look when combined with the wider track and "twin blade" radiator grille. The three large air vents in the bumper also hint at the car's vast performance. At the rear, it's a scaled down version of the S-Class coupe and while the styling cues such as the wraparound lights and trapezoidal quad exhausts look great, the proportions aren't quite as good as the bigger car.
Market and Model
The C63 coupe's list price is around £62,000 with the S version coming in at a shade under £70,000. The basic car's price is several thousand more than rivals such as the BMW M4 and Audi RS5 and the S model comes in at around £10,000 more. It does attempt to justify that extra cost by having significantly more power and torque than either, as well as having a more comfortable and planted ride than before. Also standard on the C63 is an exhaust system with flap technology controlled by the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT system. It is automatically map-controlled and provides a sound fit for long distance or emotive driving depending on the driver's selection of mode, engine speed and the power demanded. An optional performance exhaust allows the sound to be modulated at the press of a button. DINAMICA leather sports seats come as standard on both models. However Mercedes do offer a performance seat with a lower seating position and more pronounced bolsters, holding the occupants in place even more tightly. The C63, though extremely talented, goes into a segment of the market in which there are numerous very capable rivals. BMW's M4 has a huge amount of performance and is significantly lighter than the Mercedes, giving it greater agility. Audi's RS5 however, is quite a way behind in the power stakes but does counter with its all-wheel drive grip.
Cost of Ownership
Mercedes claim that either variant of the C63 can achieve around 34mpg on the combined cycle and that they only emit between 200-209g/km. This is extremely efficient for a car of this weight with such significant power and performance. Insurance is group 47 for the standard C63 and 48 for the C63 S. The smaller, turbocharged engine and double-clutch gearbox are mostly responsible for this significant increase in economy and lower emissions. The engine is over 30 per cent smaller than before and the two turbochargers allow the engine to breathe more freely. Residuals are expected to be similar to the saloon, which is predicted by experts to have retained 49 per cent of its value after three years. Mercedes' service package offers owners the choice of spreading the maintenance cost and only paying £40 per month. Though the C63 will still be an expensive car to run, these major costs are almost identical to the smaller-engined and less powerful BMW M4, though that car's list price is much lower.
Though Mercedes have priced the C63 quite a way above its rivals, the combination of a more comfortable ride and the best performance in its class by some way make up for this extra cost. The styling of both interior and exterior is another reason people may prefer the Mercedes - it looks more classy and the materials used are second to none. Not only is the C63 every bit as economical and efficient as its rivals, it also offers more power and torque, providing huge performance from anywhere in the rev-range, unlike certain rivals. AMG's suspension work has really paid off on the C63 - its excellent control is thanks to the complicated multi-link setups front and rear and the adjustable damping means there's a mode to suit all roads. Where certain rivals compromise comfort to achieve maximum grip and agility, the Mercedes doesn't need to. It blends g-inducing grip with a smooth, quiet ride to give the best of both worlds.