By Georg Kacher
05 August 2011 09:00
First, some history. AMG has been updating and upgrading mid-size two-door Mercs for much longer thank you might think. The go-faster business began in the late 1970s with the W123 range – it came in three different AMG tuning stages, from the humble 2.3-litre four, past a 2.8-litre six, to the mighty 5.0-litre V8.
However, it was not until 2001 that AMG stopped ignoring the entry-level two-door faction and released the 342bhp CLK55. In 2006, the 5.4-litre unit gave way to today’s 6.2, rated at 474bhp in the CLK63 AMG. Even though high-performance coupes did not come much rawer than this, sales were disappointingly slow, and as a result the proposed AMG versions of the E-class Coupe and Cabriolet were ditched.
To fill the void, the Swabian product planners rushed the C63 AMG Coupe to market as a late addition to the range – it shares its 451bhp engine with the C-class saloon and estate. And if you want more, the familiar Performance Package adds 29bhp to the total courtesy of internals from the SLS supercar. Also part of this kit are beefed-up front brakes, a carbonfibre boot lip spoiler, and a Alcantara and leather-rimmed steering wheel with a squared-off bottom.
What else can you tell me about the new Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe?
With the exception of E36 and C43 on which the AMG bodykit was a delete option, go-faster Benzes have always displayed relatively loud liveries. In the case of the C63 Coupe this means piercing LED daytime driving lights, frame-filling tyres, lowered sports suspension, flared wings with matching macho sills, additional air intakes, spoilers front and rear, bespoke wheels and brake calipers, as well as an overdose of carbonfibre inside and out.
Not wild enough? Then opt for the here-I-come 19in rims and the bi-colour seat trim which was dyed Devil´s red and Hell’s black in the case of our white test car. As one would expect, the cabin is a jazzy cocktail of generously applied hide, laminated lightweight fibres and brushed aluminium.
And what’s it like to drive?
Operated via a one-touch joystick, the AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speed automatic ditches the torque converter in favour of a snappier wet multi-disc clutch. The software includes a Race Start function which burns just enough rubber to catapult you forward with maximum efficiency – and a tortured Michelin soundtrack that is catchy enough to interrupt any conversation.
The C63 AMG Coupe is not only about speed and pace and grunt. It also ticks the boxes labelled excess, experience and emotion. Excess, because as soon as you unlock the chastity belt by pushing the ESP button and holding it down for five seconds, lurid oversteer beckons from dawn to dusk. Experience, because this Merc requires a PhD degree in car control to prevent the tail from wagging the dog. Emotion, because this is a highly emphatic plaything that invariably makes the driver talk to himself in loud, short and clear terms.
The best method to get acquainted with the 442lb ft massaging the rear tyres is to select the Handling mode, which is MB-speak for 'Caution – the safety net has been slackened!' In the dry, this intermediate stability control setting permits brief sidesteps from 6 to 9pm on the virtual skidpad. In the wet, however, the swept area increases from 6 to 10 or even 11pm, which is audacious to say the least.