Four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer, drift mode, e-mode, and a BIG kerbweight. Still want an M3?
It’s a car of massive, mighty numbers, the new Mercedes-AMG C63. Take the power outputs: 680 metric horsepower (or 670bhp), and a frankly baffling 752lb ft of torque. Welcome to a world where a Mercedes C-Class has more power than a Ferrari Enzo.
Yet it’ll also do a claimed 34 miles per gallon and emit just 156g/km of CO2 – about the same as a Golf GTI. And that’s because instead of a thumping great V8, the C63 now has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, and F1-inspired hybrid boost under its nostrilled bonnet.
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Because this requires a battery and motors – and because Mercedes has also heaped in tech like rear-wheel steering, adaptive suspension, four-wheel drive with rear-drive-only Drift Mode, and not one but two gearboxes… it’s heavy. 2,115kg heavy, for the saloon. The estate is 2,145kg – which is more than an Audi RS6. Yowch.
Let’s deal with the powertrain first, because even if you’re furious about the demise of AMG’s glorious V8 lineage, the C63’s drivetrain is a spectacular engineering achievement.
80 per cent of the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine is carried over from the mad, bad A45 S hot hatch. What’s new is an electric motor for spooling up the turbo. This is designed to eliminate turbo lag and increase output – and means a relatively tiny engine generates 460bhp. That’s almost as much as you used to get from the old 6.2-litre V8…
The back axle then joins the party, with an e-motor and integrated electronic limited slip differential. It makes 201bhp, and drives through a two-speed transmission that auto-upshifts at 13,500rpm to give you another kick of boost. Mounting it at the back helps weight distribution, and means the poor nine-speed twin-clutch gearbox doesn’t get ripped apart, like it would if the e-motor was on the engine crank.
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AMG claims 0-62mph happens in 3.4 seconds, and the top speed is limited to 174mph. Very fast, no doubt – but the current BMW M3 is just as quick, despite having ‘only’ 503bhp.
What it can’t do is cruise around without waking up the neighbours. The C63 can. Its 6.1kWh battery allows up to 13km of electric-only range. Other C-Classes have much bigger PHEV batteries, but AMG’s gone for a smaller one here to save weight (it’s a modest 89kg) and force you to use the various modes to get the best out of the system.
There’s a Race mode for when you fancy going wild, or you can save up your electric wildcard and hit ‘Boost’ to unleash all that instant punch for a brief moment of ‘watch this!’ terror. Apparently, the C63 features many lessons learned in the tortured creation of the AMG One hypercar.
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So, that’s the tech spec. But the looks – despite having more power beneath the skin than most air forces – are subtle. Not as punchy as a BMW M3, is it?
The front wheelarches are subtly swollen, you get the familiar AMG Panamericana front grille, some (fake) quad pipes and 20-inch rims. Carbon-ceramic brakes and a carbon skirt / spoiler pack are optional.
Inside, there’s oodles of schporty graphics on the twin screens to marvel at when you’ve finished swearing at the touch-sensitive steering wheel controls. New toggles at the lower reaches of the wheel offer AMG-specific shortcuts to suspension, traction control, exhaust and powertrain modes.
You’ve even got four, yes, four levels of electricity-harvesting brake recuperation to choose between. We’re not sure, but a good chunk of that 2.1 tonne kerbweight might be the instruction manual. Or maybe it’s Lewis Hamilton’s race engineer hiding in the glovebox.
He won’t be in the boot. It’s compromised by the battery – which is a bugbear in the wagon, especially with the BMW M3 Touring inbound. But AMG is adamant that a hybrid downsized engine was the way to go – to reduce emissions, and offer the customer more power and more choice.
The right call? Something tells us this is 2022’s most divisive new fast car. Stay tuned to see (and hear) what it’s like to ride in on 6 October…