But this car, the twin-turbo, V8-powered C 63, is the backbone of AMG's climb to prominence. And Mercedes-Benz invited us to its own backyard in Northern Germany to be among the first to sample a new-and-improved version of its heavy-hitting, compact muscle car. In Australia's case the higher performance S version only.
Not much has changed in terms of the exterior design aside from a new nose treatment incorporating the iconic Panamericana grille design with vertical chrome slats, now spreading across the AMG range, and inspired by the 1952 Panamericana road race-winning 300SL.
The front splitter receives an 'A wing' treatment, and this transverse fin has been added to the outer air inlets with the intention of improving air flow and emphasising the car's width. Plus, the diffuser has been resculpted and the twin tailpipes are now finished in high-gloss chrome.
Not much has changed in terms of the exterior design aside from a new nose treatment.
The diffuser has been resculpted and the twin tailpipes are now finished in high-gloss chrome.
The AMG C 63, offered in sedan, wagon, coupe and cabriolet variants.
There are new trim materials inside, including open-pore wood finishes, or a more carbon rich environment if you prefer. And an even grippier sports steering wheel with built-in 'Touch Control' buttons, plus, a 12.3-inch-digital instrument display, and 10.25-inch media screen.
The AMG C 63, offered in sedan, wagon, coupe and cabriolet variants, is as practical as any garden-variety Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
All offer plenty of breathing space up front, with 12 volt and USB outlets supplied, as well as an 'aux in' in audio input.
There are two cupholders in the centre console, decent door bins with space for bottles, a storage box between the seats and a sizeable glove box.
The sedan and wagon seat five, with ample head and legroom for this 183cm tester, while the coupe and cabriolet seat four in a 2+2 configuration. Rear room in the latter pair is squeezy for grown-ups, although headroom in the cabrio is especially generous with the roof down.
There are new trim materials inside, including open-pore wood finishes, or a more carbon rich environment if you prefer.
There's ample head and legroom for this 183cm tester in the back of the sedan and wagon.
All variants feature individual ventilation control for those in the back, which is a big plus, and as you'd expect cargo space varies wildly according to body style.
In ascending order, the cabrio's boot volume is 285 litres with top folded, and 360 litres with it up; enough for a cheeky weekend away for two. The coupe sits at 355 litres, the sedan offers 435, and the wagon, complete with 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat, offers up 460 litres rear seat up, and 1480 with it down.
The wagon also features a netted storage space behind the passenger side wheel tub, four cargo tie-down points, an auto load cover, cargo barrier net, 12-volt outlet and usefully bright lighting.
Towing is a no-go zone for the C 63 S, so if you need to haul a boat or camper, best to look elsewhere. And all models roll on run-flat tyres so don't bother searching for a spare of any description.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
Pricing is yet to be confirmed for the upgraded C 63 S, but expect cost-of-entry to stretch from around $160k (sedan) to somewhere just north of $180k (cabriolet) when it arrives in Australia at the end of August.
Specific pricing for the C 63 S sedan, wagon, coupe, and cabriolet bodystyles are yet to be confirmed.
For that money, as well as all the safety and dynamic performance tech detailed below, you can expect dual-zone climate control air, ambient interior lighting, 19-inch alloys, active cruise, alloy-faced pedals, electrically-adjustable and heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, nappa leather trim, keyless entry and start, a sunroof, 13-speaker audio with digital radio and TV, satellite navigation, as well as the 12.3-inch-digital instrument display, and 10.25-inch media screen.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
The C 63 S is powered by the all-alloy, direct-injection, 4.0-litre (M177) twin-turbo V8, produced in line with AMG's 'One Man. One Engine' hand-build philosophy (surely there are women interested in bolting engines together, too).
Maximum torque (700Nm) is available from 2500rpm all the way to 5000, with peak power (375kW) taking over at 5500rpm and remaining at full force until 6250.
Throttle response is instantaneous and mid-range thrust monumental.
Drive goes to the rear wheels via the 'AMG Speedshift MCT 9G' auto transmission, replacing the previous seven-speed unit. It features a wet start-off clutch in place of a torque converter, for quicker shift response.
An electronically-controlled limited slip diff, working in concert with the standard torque vectoring system. ensures drive is going to the wheel that can make best use of it.
Claimed fuel economy for the combined (European NEDC) cycle (with CO2 emissions in brackets) ranges from 10.4L/100km (236g/km) for the cabrio, 10.1L/100km (230g/km) for the coupe, 10.0L/100km (229g/km) for the wagon, and 9.9L/100km (227g/km) for the sedan. A start-stop system is standard.
Interestingly those numbers are slightly higher than the Australian ADR 81/02 figures quoted for the out-going seven-speed version of the car, so we'll wait and see how that pans out when this updated version lands here at the end of August.
Not surprisingly, the C 63 S drinks 98 RON premium octane unleaded only, and you'll need 66 litres of it to fill the tank (on all models).
We had the opportunity to drive the C 63 S over the brilliant B-roads around the beautiful Teutoburg Forest region, roughly 100km south-west of Hanover, and hot lap one of the best private test facilities in the world.
As a first step we might have experimented with the launch control feature, and can validate the factory claim that acceleration from 0-100km/h tap-dances around the magic four second mark, with the quickest Coupe only a tenth or two ahead of the rest.
Featuring a wet start-off clutch in place of a torque converter, for even quicker gearshift response, the new nine-speed auto keeps things on the boil. Shifts in manual mode are positive and ridiculously fast.
The Bilster Berg Drive Resort is a 4.2km private race track designed by F1's go-to circuit architect, Hermann Thilke.
Maximum velocity, available on Germany's sweet, sweet high-speed autobahns, is pushing up towards 300km/h. And Merc-AMG claims that's electronically limited!
Engine noise is typically thunderous thanks in part to a variable flap in the exhaust, which Merc says can vary the rumble from “discreet” to “robust”. Make that very robust.
And al la BMW, Audi, and Porsche, AMG has nestled this V8's turbos in the hot vee between the cylinder banks to shorten the distance between the inlet and outlet side of the engine and the turbos. As a result, throttle response is instantaneous and mid-range thrust monumental.
Body control on the C 63 S is beautifully buttoned down.
Despite standard 19-inch rims, ride comfort is excellent. Yes, Germany is a ludicrously prosperous and organised country; even its backroads are velvet smooth. But the C 63 S's dynamic engine mounts help minimise drivetrain vibration, with the four-link front, and multi-link rear suspension working in concert with the active damping system to further smooth out the journey.
After some backroad blasting and relaxed rural cruising it was time to hit the track, but not just any track. Opened in 2013, the Bilster Berg Drive Resort is a 4.2km private race track designed by F1's go-to circuit architect, Hermann Thilke with support from none other than the man himself, Walter Rohrl.
Covering 46 hectares it's like a mini Mount Panorama, swerving, diving and climbing through 19 corners, the most challenging of which is named the “curve of courage”. Gulp.
The AMG specific instrument layouts allow a vast array of functions and data to be dialled up, including engine boost and race timing.
Trailing a tame racing driver in a lead AMG GTR we pushed up to the car's limit and can confirm it's superbly balanced.
The speed-sensitive electromechanical steering is accurate with great feel, and thanks to the active damping, body control is beautifully buttoned down.
The 'AMG Dynamics' system incorporates settings for engine response, suspension, and ESP, which overlay pre-set driver preferences across six drive programs.
With the system wound up, the fat Michel Super Sport rubber (slightly wider on the coupe and cabrio) gripping hard and the limited slip diff (now electronically-controlled) doing its thing, power down is super impressive.
You can actually dial traction control intervention up or down via a rotary control on the steering wheel, the car remaining stable, communicative and responsive at stupid speeds no matter what the setting.
This car is a blast to drive, delivering the acceleration and dynamic refinement of supercars costing twice as much.
New design 'Performance' seats are as grippy as they are comfortable, and the brakes are fantastic, with 390mm vented rotors at the front clamped by six-piston calipers. Even the rear discs are ventilated 360mm dinner plates. Under extreme pressure on the track they showed no sign of stress.
AMG specific instrument layouts allow a vast array of functions and data to be dialled up, including engine and systems status, G-force, and race timing.
An optional 'AMG Track Pace' package even adds race circuit graphics down to individual sectors, specific bends, braking points, and delta speeds.
This car is a blast to drive, delivering the acceleration and dynamic refinement of supercars costing twice as much.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
ANCAP safety rating
All the expected active safety boxes are ticked, with standard tech across the board including ABS, BA, EBD, ESP, traction control, and AEB.
You can also expect, auto LED headlights with active high beam control, active cruise, rain-sensing wipers, a colour head-up display, a tyre pressure monitoring system, 'Traffic Sign Assist', 'Lane Change Warning', and 'Lane Departure Warning'.
Safety at slower speeds is covered by 'Park Assist', a surround camera system, and parking distance control front and rear.
The current C-Class received a maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was assessed in 2014
But if all that isn't enough to avoid a collision, all body styles, except the cabriolet, feature front head and side airbags, as well as full-length curtains, and a driver's knee airbag. There's even a well-stocked first aid kit on board.
Obviously, curtain airbags aren't an option on the cabrio, but torso bags for rear seat passenger and pop-up hoops that deploy in the event of a roll-over are a solid plan-B.
The current Mercedes-Benz C-Class received a maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was assessed in 2014, with the cabriolet also ranked five stars when it was tested in 2017.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
3 years / unlimited km warranty
Mercedes-Benz offers a three-year/unlimited km warranty, with 24-hour roadside assist included for the duration. Not exactly leading edge when you think about Kia at seven years/unlimited km and Tesla's eight year/160,000km cover.
Scheduled maintenance for the C 63 S is set at 12 months/20,000km, and service plans are offered at silver and platinum levels for up to five years/100,000km.
The first three fixed price services for the current C 63 S sit at $676 (year one), $1352 (year two), and $1352 (year three).
The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S is brutally fast, and satisfyingly raucous. Everything a good muscle car should be. But add engineering sophistication, top-shelf quality and the best of Benz luxury and it becomes a super special package. In terms of the value/performance equation the sedan is the pick of the range, this new model adding more high-octane fuel to the already raging Mercedes-AMG fire.
Would you pick the updated C 63 over the new RS4? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.