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Mercedes-Benz C-Class C63 2008 Review

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Now the fifth generation of AMG C-class brings us the C63. In 1999 Mercedes purchased controlling interest and since that time the cache of the AMG name has continued to grow.

The C63 is a powerhouse of performance and technology, with its own unique bonnet and twin power bulges it all starts with the engine, a built 'by one set of hands' AMG-designed masterpiece with a tuned exhaust note that should make HSV owners weak at the knees.

Engine

The 6.2-litre/6208cc V8 engine develops 336 kW/457hp (the German Touring Race cars develop 470hp) and 600Nm of torque at 5000rpm. With a torque curve from 2000 to 6250 rpm that always produces at least 500Nm, the engine revs freely to over 7000rpm, and has outstanding responsiveness and enormous pulling power. It develops over 30 per cent more torque than comparable engines in this performance class.

Built almost completely from a high-strength silicon-aluminium alloy, the engine has four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, and a variable intake manifold. The cylinder bores feature a twin-wire-arc-sprayed (TWAS) coating which makes them twice as hard as conventional cast-iron cylinders.

Transmission

Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a seven-speed AMG Speedshift automatic transmission that can be shifted manually by either a conventional lever or paddles on the AMG steering wheel, a wheel that features a flat bottom that just feels perfect in hand. Drivers have total control of shifting, manual mode doesn`t allow any computer intervention. In auto, shifting is 35% faster with an automatic "throttle-blipping" during downshifts. This jolt-free downshifting process reduces load-change handling response, and improves braking in advance of turn-in. The transmission features three driving modes, “S” (Sport), ” C” (Comfort) and “M” (Manual) They differ in their shift characteristics and speed: shifts in “S” mode are around 30 percent faster than in “C”, and no less than around 50 percent faster in “M” mode. Pressing a button is all it takes to activate the desired driving programme.

Chassis

The chassis features a redesigned front suspension including stiffer shocks and springs all around, as well as new bearings, a stiffer stabilizer bar and 1.4-inch wider track. At the rear, the multi-link suspension has been re-engineered, plus track at front is a half inch wider with increased negative camber for improved cornering. The new wheel location provides greatly improved lateral dynamics and allows for significantly higher cornering speeds. Modified steering characteristics, make a further contribution to increased precision.

18-inch AMG light-alloy wheels are standard and there is 19-inch wheel/tyre combination as an option. Behind these wheels are 360 x 36-millimetre discs with six-piston fixed callipers on the front, while the rear gets 330 x 26-millimetre discs with four-piston fixed callipers. The brakes deliver great sensitivity and high fade-resistance.

The Electronic Stability Program ESP is configured for the dynamic performance; the C63 is the first model to feature the 3-stage ESP with a Sport function. This system offers three different control settings from full intervention via changes, to handling dynamics and torque control, to — none. The system’s traction control is active in all three modes. If one of the drive wheels threatens to spin, specific brake pressure is applied to create the effect of a mechanical differential lock.

Exterior

Visually the C63 AMG features a noticeably wide stance with a muscular front apron with large air intakes and side air outlets. There is a `6.3 AMG’ badge on each front fender, and side sill skirts continue the aggressive theme to the rear, where the rear apron features three pronounced diffuser fins that help enhance aerodynamic performance at high speeds.

Interior

Inside drivers are treated to newly developed AMG leather sport seats that hug you like no Mercedes seats before. The unique AMG instrument cluster was developed specifically for the C63 AMG with redesigned analogue gauges and red needles.

The central display includes special Warm-up, Setup, and Race modes that can be viewed via the multi-function buttons on the steering wheel. Warm-up displays engine oil and coolant temperatures, while Setup shows the current ESP and transmission shift modes, and for owners who enjoy adjusting their vehicles to even higher limits, Race activates a timer that allows the driver to measure lap times.

The C63 AMG is a masterpiece and the pinnacle in performance sedans and at $140,000 is somewhat of a bargain in comparison to its competition.

DRIVING

In the short time since the C63's launch at Geneva in 2007 it has become a market changing car for Mercedes AMG. Single-handedLY, it has told performance car enthusiasts where AMG is headed — and that is directly into the domain held for so long by BMW. Praise is heaped on the small Merc in every review and at every track test. It is well documented that this car redefines AMG as builders of cars for drivers and not just Mercs with big engines.

So given that it has already well and truly had its neck wrung by other reviewers — and passed with flying colours — my approach to my time with the 63 was somewhat different. A weekend of family driving. After all, this is a four-door sedan of a practical size for my family.

I predominantly like performance coupes, my wife likes four doors, cupholders, heated seats and vents in the back for the kids. Was this a car that could satisfy us both?

Steering lock is amazing and you could park this thing on a dime. Looking at the car, my wife commented that while it looked great, at the same time it looked ordinary. In red it could pass as any just another performance four-door sedan. So a bright red Mercedes, that can do 0-100km/h in under 4.5 seconds and de-limited around 320km/h can go largely unnoticed and appear as just another family sedan.

I was somewhat concerned what my wife would think of the firm ride, but crawling through urban 50km/h zones was so smooth she was all smiles.

And the smoothness of that engine, coupled with the attention to retaining a quiet cabin, meant it always feels like a luxury interior. Stopped at a set of lights you basically can't hear or feel that the car is going. How did a big thumping V8 get this refined.

It is also probably one of the safest cars ever built, not just for its unquestionable build quality, but also because it has the power and braking capability to get you out of nearly any situation the traffic could throw at you.

Shopping gave the car another nod, with the big boot getting an equally big tick from my wife – and permission to put it on the list as the new family car. If only I had the spare dollars.

So does it pass all our requirements for a new family sedan? Hell yes. It will just mean a small sacrifice with the family budget. I’m trying to convince the wife we don’t really need to eat for the rest of the year.

VERDICT: 9.5

Pricing guides

$12,523
Based on 74 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$6,499
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Range and Specs

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C230 Evolution 2.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $11,700 – 17,160 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2008 C230 Evolution Pricing and Specs
C230 Evolution AMG 2.5L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $12,700 – 18,370 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2008 C230 Evolution AMG Pricing and Specs
C200 Kompressor 1.8L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $9,600 – 14,520 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2008 C200 Kompressor Pricing and Specs
C180 Kompressor Evolution 1.8L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $9,300 – 13,970 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2008 C180 Kompressor Evolution Pricing and Specs