Noisy, boisterous and outrageous looking, the C-Class Cabriolet's range-topping Mercedes-AMG C 63 is a V8-engined old-school charmer with ridiculous performance and running costs to match. Fancy a four-seat, open-topped dragster with surprising back road agility, that's best sampled with the sun out?
In the metal
In the way that AMG does so well, the C 63 Cabriolet adds some visual punch to the otherwise elegant shape of the drop-top C-Class. There's a more assertive grille, jutting spoiler and bigger air intakes up front, flared wheelarches covering a wider track, biturbo wing badges and a punctured rear bumper under which sits a diffuser-style element framed by some sizeable exhaust pipes. There's a boot lid spoiler, too, just in case all the other AMG styling hints escaped your attention.
The interior follows that Mercedes-AMG high performance make-over recipe, with more deeply bolstered seats, aluminium trim details and a smattering of AMG badging. Befitting of its range-topping status, and sizeable price, it's also comprehensively equipped. It loses little of its space or practicality in its pursuit of performance, though it might prove a little bit more difficult clambering into the back behind those more supportive front sports seats.
We've driven the Mercedes-AMG C 63 in its various other forms and it has never failed to charm with its dragster-like performance and rousing soundtrack. Opening it up to the elements does little to detract from that. Impressively, in C 63 form, the C-Class Cabriolet reveals more of the strength of the car's structure, it coping with the AMG's not insignificant power and more focused suspension impressively. That torsional rigidity allows the C 63's suspension to work properly, it riding with surprising suppleness given its obvious intent, though it's probably best to keep the more focused choices in the variable damping set-up for smoother surfaces.
The steering is finely weighted, the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Cabriolet's front axle keen on turn in, delivering consistent response and impressive accuracy, allied to a modicum of feel through the steering wheel rim. Given the massive 476hp output, and more significantly, the 650Nm of torque the 4.0-litre engine develops, it's hardly surprising that those driven rear wheels can be brought into the steering equation. The chassis's limits are easily exploited and enjoyed, where conditions and space allow it. The various drive modes liberate more and more control to you, speeding up the viciousness of the seven-speed automatic transmission's shift, lifting the thresholds of the stability and traction systems to make for a drive that's engaging and amusing, yet not without sophistication.
Where it runs out of ideas is in the wet. While the C 63 operates on the limits of traction in the dry, rain levels it, and you have to tip-toe with its controls to avoid unsettling the balance. Still, it's a convertible, so you'll not be driving it unless it's sunny anyway, right? The 4.0-litre biturbo is a sensational engine, which, given it's tasked across the AMG line-up to replace the old 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8, is just as well. Chasing revs with the enthusiasm of an engine without forced induction, yet offering the low-rev, any-gear flexibility that defines turbocharged units, its response is exceptional and the pace that accompanies it never short of sensational. It sounds magnificent, too, the sports exhaust cracking, popping and fizzing with a rousing, competition car-like intensity, it all the better enjoyed with that roof stowed under its rear cover.
What you get for your money
Being the top of the range C-Class Cabriolet the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Cabriolet comes with plentiful standard equipment. It won't be cheap, yet with not far short of supercar performance and the ability to carry four in relative comfort it could arguably replace several cars in your garage...
BMW M4 Convertible: a similarly focused specification makes the M4 Convertible a hugely fast, capable car, but it lacks the charm that AMG's C 63 Cabriolet delivers, nor is it quite as spacious.
Maserati GranCabrio: more sports/GT with Italian good looks and a heftier price tag, the Maserati feels old-school and unsophisticated compared to the Mercedes-AMG.
Porsche 911 Cabriolet: completely different layout, but arguably a direct competitor for the AMG car.
The Mercedes-AMG C 63 Cabriolet is a silly car, but brilliant at the same time. AMG's magic remains its ability to make such performance so enjoyable at any speed. There's noise, plenty of it, added to searing pace, and, in the right conditions incredible ability. Don't forget to play the Lotto this weekend...