To slightly misquote Bob Dylan, how many parts must a manufacturer change before it becomes a true facelift? Well, in the case of the C63 S, Mercedes reckons the car's mid-life facelift contains 6500 new or revised parts. That's a lot of bits, but on even close examination, it just looks like a new grille on the W205's nose.
The C63 is a familiar fixture on our roads. AMG knows how to create an audio signature for its cars - my wife can recognise a C63's V8 dirty bark a mile off, and she's not quite as keen on cars as I am. It's the highest-selling AMG in the country, so Mercedes Australia won't want serious changes to upset their apple cart.
After counting at least 15 of the 6500 new bits, a refreshed interior and one of the great road car engines left well alone, we went on a road trip to the Bathurst 12 Hour to see what's what.
Off the line, the C63 comes with 19-inch forged alloys from the AMG GT, a new stability and control electronics package, fully digital dash with telemetry pack, 13-speaker stereo system, auto LED headlights with active high beam control, active cruise control, auto wipers, head up display, Nappa leather, a naff IWC-branded analogue clock and a tyre repair kit.
The C63 scores the same 19-inch forged alloys as the AMG GT.
The car I drove also had the air-ionizing and fragrance system that made the car smell like an Emirates A380 cabin.
A huge 10.25-inch media screen sits atop the console and features Mercedes' 'Comand' system, controlled by a rotary dial with that weird tongue with the touchpad arching over it. Comand is getting better over the years and is now quite usable, although Mercedes is resisting making the screen responsive to touch.
The new C63 doesn't look all that much different apart from the front. The new Panamericana grille we've already seen on the GLC63 has trickled down from the AMG GT, the old C63's grille is now on the C43. The current C-Class is a fairly conservative design - as are all the German sedans in this segment - but the AMG additions help it stand out from the rest of the range providing a C200 buyer hasn't slapped on the AMG pack. Apart from the grille and diffuser, the C63 also has red brake calipers.
From the front, the new C63 doesn't look much different from the outgoing one.
The current C-Class is a fairly conservative design, but the AMG additions help it stand out from the crowd.
Inside is roughly the same. The interior is really from a time when Mercedes weren't really doing nice looking cabins. There's certainly nothing wrong with the quality, but the mixture of materials is a bit much. The open-pore wood is lovely, with a nice texture to it and it looks good, certainly nicer than over-polished slabs of tree from of old. The AMG front seats, with a massive amount of adjustment, are excellent and hugely comfortable.
Front seat passengers enjoy a useful pair of cupholders and a good size central bin with two USB points inside it to join the one in the cubby under the climate controls. The glove box is large enough to fit the massive owners manual. Each door has a bottle holder, too, but you'll be lying them on their side.
Front seat passengers enjoy a useful pair of cupholders and a good size central bin with two USB points inside.
In the back you've got very welcome air vents, easily room for two adults as long as the front seats aren't occupied by giants and a rear armrest with dual cupholders (for a total of four). The plastic shells on the back of the excellent front seats might be a bit hard on a taller person's knees, though. If your feeling squished, you can poke the driver's shoulders through the fake belt slots on the front seats.
Rear passengers get air vents and enough space for two adults.
The C63 is blindingly fast, cracking the ton in around four seconds. If we had the space and the law had a sense of humour about these things, top whack is a mildly incongruous 300km/h. It might even go faster if AMG didn't whack on a limiter.
The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 remains unchanged at 375kW/700Nm.
The MCT is like a motorbike clutch where a number of clutch plates are in an oil bath and there's just a single input shaft rather than all the doubling-up of a twin-clutch transmission.
The C63 also has a electronic rear diff to ensure maximum fun if you've got a good tyre budget.
The harsh reality is that when you give it the beans, you'll be up around the 14.0L/100km mark, which we saw with a fair amount of, shall we say, spirited driving. Having said that, one wonders if a less enthusiastic right foot might realistically hit 11.0L/100km or so.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
3 years / unlimited km warranty
Mercedes throws in a segment-standard (but industry-lagging) three-years/unlimited kilometre warranty. Somewhat generously, you get three years roadside assistance and remarkably sensible 12 months/20,000km service intervals.
Servicing remains the same as before, with the first service in the standard program at $656 and the latter two at $1352 each for a total of $3360 over three years. Not cheap but not horrific either.
As you might imagine, the V8 engine dominates the C63. Spectacular power and torque figures and the AMG performance exhaust mean that even pottering around is a treat, with just a toe's weight required to get it moving and a lovely V8 burble following you around. In Comfort mode it's firm but perfectly comfortable, an improvement on the first go at the car.
From the driver's seat, one of the reasons I don't like that tongue on the Comand dial is that it obscures the rocker switch that controls the driving mode selection. Not a big deal, just annoying (and it's probably only a right-hand drive problem) but AMG has fixed it.
The V8 proves spectacular power and torque figures and sounds the business.
On the new steering wheel is a Ferrari Manettino-style twisty-wheel with a little screen in it. Turn the dial to the right and you cycle up from 'Comfort' through to 'Race'. On the other spoke is a pair of shortcut buttons so you can turn up the noise or turn it down without taking your hands off the wheel.
As ever, changing the mode changes the way the car behaves. There's a new slippery mode for wet or snowy surfaces and there is also a slip control feature for when you want to unstick the rear end and a new set of chassis modes - 'Basic', 'Advanced', 'Pro' and 'Master'. So, plenty to choose from, and you can mix and match in the configurable I mode.
The MCT transmission is awesome. It feels just like a well-sorted, sports-tuned automatic when you're tooling around but when you get on it, the shifts are lighting fast. The gears are weirdly long considering how many of them there are, but there's so much torque ninth gear is longer than Trump's ties. Highway speeds have the engine turning at 1200rpm.
Over rough surfaces, the cabin can get a little noisy.
If you're worried about this long build-up, let me put you out of your misery - the C63's wild-child reputation is undimmed. The new system settings merely give you more choice over how wild this car can be. 'Sport' and 'Sport +' are the choice modes out in the real world, with a bellowing exhaust but a set of loose-but-not-too-loose reins to keep you from flying off the road. The giant torque figure ensures plenty of, er, driver involvement as an injudicious right foot will mean a lively rear end. Move into 'Race' and you'll be busy.
The C63's philosophy of fun rather than the outright sharpness of its Audi RS and BMW M rivals is unashamed. If a C63 went to the track, it won't be the fastest through the corners, but you'll be having the most fun and working super-hard, in a good way.
On the track, the C63 wouldn't be the fastest through the corners.
Backing up all that power is a set of what Mercedes confusingly call composite brakes - what that means is that the inner ring is made of aluminium while the actual braking surface of the 390mm (front) discs is steel. Given their size, you can reasonably expect them to be rather effective and you would be correct. What's more they have plenty of feel and the bite is just right - not too grabby but you're never in any doubt that they're there and ready.
The cabin can get a little noisy over less-than-perfect surfaces. The tyre rumble will require a deployment of some loud music to cover the racket from the sticky Michelin Sport Cups.
This facelift must have been an unenviable task. The C63 is wildly popular, particularly in Australia and there wasn't much wrong with it before. The addition of the new driving modes offers yet more adjustability and the refreshed suspension has delivered a better ride.
Leaving the core of the car alone means it remains an exceptionally appealing sports sedan. You can easily live with it as your only family car because it can carry four moderately-sized people in comfort with the genuine ability to scare the crap out of them.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
Does the refreshed C63 grab your attention? Or does the similarly-priced GLC63 tick more boxes?