For years, the BMW M3 has reigned supreme when speaking of small European performance, but times are changing. Does it still wear the crown? Not if the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG has anything to do with it.
AMG has been the performance wing of Mercedes for almost 40 years. Their models have been legendary, including the fire-breathing, 604-horsepower, twin turbo
CL65 AMG. But, if you don’t have $200K (cost of the CL65) burning a hole in your pocket, the C63 AMG also offers brute-force performance. The C63’s V8 engine develops 451-horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque and according to Mercedes, accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, while its top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.
The C63 AMG’s high-performance engine is mated to the AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS seven-speed automatic transmission. Equipped with the AMG steering wheel shift paddles and three driving modes, the seven-speed automatic transmission allows a sporty or more comfort-oriented style of driving according to the driver’s preference. The different modes – “S” (Sport), “C” (Comfort) and “M” (Manual) differ in their shift characteristics and speed. Gearshifts in “S” mode are 30 percent faster than in “C”, and 50 percent faster in “M” mode.
The C63 AMG is the very first AMG car to have a new double declutching feature during downshifts, which maintains vehicle balance during cornering. This ensures more dynamic handling and enhanced safety thanks to more rapid downshifting and reduced braking torque on the drive axle. And it sounds way cool, with the downshifting throttle “blip” amplified through the C63 AMG’s true dual exhaust system.
The C63 AMG features speed-sensitive AMG sports steering and a new, three-stage Electronic Stability Program (ESP). The ESP system gives you the option of switching the system “off,” should the desire to hang the C63’s tail out on a racetrack come in to play, and I did just that at the Firebird Raceway in Arizona. With CLK63 AMG Black Series cars with pro drivers pacing us, groups of five in C63s put the cars through the paces. I was incredibly impressed with the C63’s power, but more so with the monstrous brakes that slowed our fast track pace. Mercedes uses rotors that are the circumference of wheels found on many compact cars. These 14.2” rotors are clamped by six-piston fixed calipers to anchor the front braking system. Four-piston calipers and 13” rotors handle rear braking duties.
And speaking of racing, the AMG main menu in the central gauge cluster display allows numerous settings, with “Warm Up”, “Set Up” and “RACE” modes activated via buttons on the AMG performance steering wheel. “Warm Up” displays the engine oil and coolant temperature, “Set Up” the current ESP mode and the transmission mode “S”, “C” or “M”. “RACE” mode makes the RACETIMER available, with which the driver is able to measure lap times on a racetrack.
The C63 AMG styling departs from past AMG C-Class models with a unique hood, with two power domes, widened front fenders and other unique body components. The rear features standard LED lights, along with a black diffuser insert and the AMG sport exhaust system. The AMG spoiler on the trunk reduces dangerous lift at high speeds.
Inside, deeply bolstered special AMG sport seats feature a new design with cross-piping and AMG lettering, and an adaptive backrest with adjustments for the side bolsters and lumbar support. If you are a 737, you will fit comfortably. Wide body 747 types will not enjoy the super tight seating. The AMG instrument cluster features newly styled dials (with red needles), AMG-specific lettering, and a new night-time design.
The 2008 C63 AMG is a car for those who want ultimate performance at a bargain price. Base price is set at $54,625, including destination charges.