Advertisement2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe - First Drive ReviewIf you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.BY K.C. COLWELL, PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREAS LINDLAHR AND THE MANUFACTURER
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Since the 2008 C63 AMG went on sale, Mercedes has sold nearly 20,000 examples worldwide of the sedan and its not-for-the-U.S. wagon counterpart. Not bad for a hard-core enthusiast machine, but Mercedes still thinks it’s leaving something on the table. Enter the latest addition to the C-class AMG lineup, this C63 coupe. It just so happens that the C63’s biggest competition, the BMW M3, comes in coupe and sedan shells, too.
According to Tobias Moers, AMG’s “Dr. Frankenstein” and director of vehicle development, the C63 coupe was engineered according to a strict “no compromises” brief. When pressed, Moers admits that the Benz marketers added a two-pane glass roof as standard equipment. According to him, the added bulk barely affects the curb weight or center-of-gravity height. But the 17-year AMG veteran still claims he can feel it.
Most drivers won’t. They will be too busy basking in the glory that is 451 horses underhood bucking upwards of 7200 times a minute. Tack on another 30 with the AMG Development package (DP). Normally, when an option pack uncorks a few ponies, it does so with virtual octane, i.e., by remapping the engine computer. While the AMG DP does indeed include a reflash, it also throws in SLS-borrowed engine internals (forged pistons and a lightweight crank and connecting rods) for the 6.2-liter V-8. The new parts reduce reciprocating and rotating mass by seven pounds. Peak torque remains more than satisfactory, at 443 pound-feet, while the top-speed governor jumps from 155 mph to 174.
Pricing is still in limbo, but expect the AMG DP to add no less than $6000 to the estimated base price of $63,500 when the coupe hits showrooms in September. Those fluent in the styling language of AMG will recognize the AMG connection by the red brake calipers and the small carbon-fiber lip spoiler on the trunk. The really nosy ones will see synthetic-suede trim on an ovoid steering wheel.
Compared with the C63 sedan, the coupe is, well, short two doors and one seating position. As in the four-door, aggressive AMG styling cues start at the large, lower-grille opening and finish in back with a diffuser. The new coupe reaps the benefits of the sedan’s 2012 chassis tweaks, too. The wheels are aligned with increased negative camber, and every bushing has been retuned, as have the springs and shocks. The wet-clutch-pack engine-to-transmission coupler got the nod, thanks to its improved efficiency (fewer losses than a torque converter) and quicker shifts (as little as 0.1 second).
At 3900 pounds, the coupe is some 100 pounds lighter than the sedan. But as before, off-the-line traction is the limiting factor in initial acceleration. Thankfully, the updated transmission includes launch control, slingshotting the C63 with DP to 60 mph in no more than 3.8 seconds, with the quarter-mile mark passing in 12.1. Non-DP C63s will lag slightly behind in the quarter.
Speaking of traction, the old C63 was notoriously adolescent—it just loved ass-happy antics. Chassis updates quell this a bit, inching the balance closer to neutral. The back still comes around in lift-throttle situations and with salubrious applications of throttle. Catching the tail is child’s play despite light steering and the extra corrections needed to hold a cornering line. Plus, there is more wiggle room on center than we prefer.
If the firm ride doesn’t remind passengers that they are in a special Benz, the high-side seats and wicked exhaust wail will. A comparison with the M3 is imminent. Until then, let’s just call this another in a line of monster AMGs.Specifications
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
ESTIMATED BASE PRICE: $63,500
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 379 cu in, 6208 cc
Power (SAE net): 451 or 481 hp @ 6800 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 443 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 108.9 in Length: 185.3 in
Width: 70.7 in Height: 54.8 in
Curb weight: 3900 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 3.8 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 9.0 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.1–12.2 sec
Top Speed: 155–174 mph
PROJECTED FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST):
EPA city/highway driving: 14/20 mpg
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