The new C63 engine is 2.2 litres smaller than the last. The missing displacement alone would be enough to power a small car. That’s a disconcerting reduction, but before you grab your pitchfork and march on the AMG offices in Affalterbach, consider that the new engine is better in almost every way.
The old naturally-aspirated 6.2 AMG V8 will always have a place in our hearts here at MOTOR, and we could only wish we had a place for one in our salaries. However, this new 4.0-litre engine is a thing of beauty. This generation C63 is also a marked improvement over its predecessor and uses a lot less fuel, too.
Advancement is not limited to the engine bay, though. The recently introduced W205 C Class that the 63 is based on has won praise for its handling, ride and equipment, and the hot version builds on this. Indeed, the C63 is more refined, has a more elegant interior, and is easier to use as a daily driver. More importantly, it goes much harder when you decide to drop the hammer.
It was a revelation on the wet and slippery winding roads that carve up through the hills near the Victorian harbour town of Apollo Bay. The chassis is wonderfully forgiving and the new electric steering precise and perfectly weighted. It helps makes the C63 feel smaller, and there is little doubt the smaller and lighter engine at the front assists each change of direction.
Some of these forest roads appear permanently wet and slippery, but the Mercedes was able to maintain high corner speeds. It displayed a high level of front grip and although the rear wanted to break away early and often, it was easy to control with the throttle.
While the previous C63 seemed to be more of a sledgehammer that preferred slamming down straights instead of dancing through bends, the new one has no such preference. A new electrically-controlled locking differential, which replaces a mechanical one, is effective and consistent.
I don’t usually like the use of ‘modes’ that can sometimes do little to improve the drive experience, but they should be mentioned in this case. In the sportier modes, the variable engine mounts (filled with metal-speck laced fluid) stiffen when exposed to an electric current in the name of handling. They revert to the soft setting in the comfort mode to help absorb vibrations and harshness.
Other tools that vary the drive experience include suspension damper valves, steering, throttle, gearbox and driver-aid thresholds, as well as a separate loud exhaust button. The breadth of character in the C63 is impressive and it can lie low as a high-end executive saloon with everything set to the comfort settings, although the suspension is always a touch firm.
The beautiful interior design, the premium surfaces and fancy bits such as the Swiss watch on the dash all aid the impression of civility. But in Sport, Sport Plus or Race, the C63 is an angry beast indeed.
It sounds wicked. The noise is different to the old 6.2 V8 – a thundering devil that monstered your ears at any rpm – but is still very aggressive. With the cop-baiting exhaust mode engaged, it gives a delightful low boom at idle and the anger builds with the revs. To change gears or back off is to bring on an artillery barrage of cracking and popping that sounds so good it's tempting to drive like a tool just to hear it.
The engine is, as it should be, the centrepiece of the new C63. Thanks to the two turbochargers snuggled up in the V of the eight, it can dole out 375kW and a healthy 700Nm. The engine makes its maximum torque from 1750rpm and doesn’t stop until it reaches 4500rpm.
The claimed 0-100km/h figure of 4.0 seconds seems legit out here as it fires out of the tight corners and urges you to surge towards the cut out at 7000rpm.
With all that torque, you don’t have to change gears often, but there is fun to be had swapping cogs with the improved seven-speed wet clutch automatic that appears the perfect solution for this car. It is fast enough for furious driving, but also changes smoothly and surely when left in full automatic mode.
This duality is at the core of the C63’s appeal. You really can enjoy using it as a daily driver before pressing a few buttons and climbing into the cannon. It isn’t cheap at $154,510 (wagon version is $157,010), but this is just a brilliant performance car.
Yes, the engine is smaller, but size isn’t everything. Thank goodness.
4.5 out of 5
Engine: 3982cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin-turbo
Power: 375kW @ 5500-6250rpm
Torque: 700Nm @ 1750-4500rpm
0-100km/h: 4.0sec (claimed)
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