AMG's C 63 receives the same round of updates as the 'normal' Mercedes C-Class range, but this is still a car (rightly) built around its engine.
In the metal
You'll spot a AMG C 63, relative to the rest of the C-Class range, but it helps if you're a bit of a Stuttgart Star Anorak. The biggest giveaway is the grille, which is now done in the 'Panamericana' style with big, bold vertical elements. There's also a redesigned lower front air intake and new bumpers and lights front and rear, but you'll be lucky to clock those.
In the cabin, the C 63 gets the same updates as the rest of the C-Class line-up, so there are some improved trims and surfaces, and the high-backed AMG bucket seats can now be had with a cooling fan as well as heating elements. The steering wheel (which can have a mixture of carbon fibre and Alcantara suede, according to your taste) is squared-off at the bottom and sides, which feels better than it sounds, and the instruments can be upgraded to a fully digital layout. This is actually worth exploring, because the screen, adjusted by the little touchpads on the steering wheel (which you stroke and click with your thumb) is hugely versatile, able to move from a traditional two-dial layout, to one with an inset satnav map, to one with a big central tacho and digital speedo, with the gear selection in big, bold numbers. There are even temperature readouts for the tyres and the gearbox oil, should you be so inclined (and naturally, we were...).
The central 'Comand' screen can also be upgraded (yes, there are options on this €100k+ car...) to a 10.25-inch display that has the usual sat-nav and smartphone interfaces, but as this is an AMG, it also has a data-logging system for track driving.
The rest of the cabin is standard C-Class, which is to say comfortable, reasonably roomy and very well made. You can have your AMG 63 C-Class as a saloon, coupe, cabriolet or (the one we really want) estate, but there's precious little difference between them in the way they drive, so this comes down to a choice of aesthetics over practicality. The C 63 Coupe looks mostly great, but the saloon and estate look far classier to our eyes.
Upgrading to our S-spec test car also means you get an aero kit, which includes a massive rear diffuser picked out in carbon fibre, and a small, but rather attractive, boot lip spoiler (also in carbon), which looks smarter on the saloon than on the coupe.
Can we award more than five stars in this section? Because by our dead reckoning, the C 63 probably deserves roughly 11 or there about. The chassis hasn't been massively changed for this model update. Underneath, there are adaptive dampers with steel springs (no air suspension option yet), an electronically controlled differential on the rear axle (no four-wheel-drive option for the 63, unlike the C 43) and torque vectoring between the rear wheels. The biggest mechanical change is the switch to a wet-clutch setup for the nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (no manual option, more's the pity), but there is a massive suite of driver aids.
These range from straightforward Comfort-Sport-Sport+-Race selections through the Dynamic Select system to switchable AMG Dynamics helpers that run from Basic in Comfort mode to Master in Race mode. Race and Master are only available on the upgraded S model, incidentally.
The S is also more powerful with a 510hp output from the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, compared to the standard car's 475hp (oh the shame of such a puny power rating...). The S also gets dynamic engine mounts, which help to keep the motor's mass in place when accelerating, cornering and braking, but both models get what is effectively a unique front end, different from the regular C-Class from the windscreen forward, to accommodate the V8's extra cooling.
For road driving, you may as well just leave the C 63 S in Comfort mode. There's a new rotary controller, dangling from the right hand steering wheel spoke (in the same fashion as Porsche), which allows you to easily flip between the various settings, and another button on the other side that allows you to, for instance, have Sport or Sport+ engaged, but still have the suspension in soft mode, to be better able to cope with bumpy roads. Sport and Sport+ do indeed liberate sharper throttle response (which is exceptionally fast for a turbo engine, and testament to AMG's decision to mount the turbos in the 'hot-vee' space between the cylinder banks) and snappier changes from the nine-speed transmission. Sport+ also makes the exhaust louder (again, you can do that in any mode with a separate switch) and also engages the exhaust overrun system that sends a childishly enjoyable series of pops and bangs that sound as much like an old Escort rally car as anything else. But again, Comfort gives you everything you could possibly need in a road car - savage acceleration, combined with soft-touch comfort and refinement.
For Sport and Sport+ you really need a race track to appreciate them, but as soon as we got to the Bilster Berg race resort (basically a private test track for the corporate or the wealthy) we skipped right past those and went for Race. Well, you would...
In Race, the Dynamic Select controller changes tack and becomes effectively a traction control volume knob, similar to the system found in the AMG GT-R Coupe. Twist to the left for safety and sanity, twist to the right for knackered tyres and new underwear. Actually, that suggests that the C 63 S is something of an animal, but if it is, it's a trained and friendly one. Certainly in the dry, and even taking in that mighty V8's ability to ring down for traction assistance in third gear under hard acceleration, the S is exceptionally easy to drive. It will drift and slide - with 700Nm of torque going only to the rear wheels it could hardly not - but the steering (perfectly weighted, and with lots of feel and feedback) and the chassis (constantly telling you things through the seat of your pants) the C 63 S never approaches its limits without having given you fair warning first. Keep the Spinal Tap traction control in low figures and it's actually easy - point, squirt, roar, bellow, brake, point and squirt anew. Turn it up to 11 and it's point, squirt, roar, squeal, howl, bellow, slide, smoke, bellow, brake and then do it again. Either way, it's enormous fun and done at colossal speeds, all with a big, silly grin (rather than a rictus of fear) on your face. It is quite brilliant - friendlier by far than the edgier BMW M3 and M4, and more engaging than an Audi RS, all with that wonderful, gargling V8 soundtrack.
What you get for your money
It's rather pointless discussing value for money when you're already over the €100,000 threshold, but actually the C 63 isn't that bad when it comes to list price. In fact, the C 63 S is fractionally cheaper than a BMW M3 saloon, which is several horsepower short of the Merc's output. The problem comes when you start digging down into spec. Yes, you get the amazing V8 engine, the adaptive suspension and much of the high-end safety kit as standard, but when you're already paying €100k+ for a car, you might reasonably expect such items as the digital instrument pack and the larger infotainment screen to be thrown in as standard. As ever with expensive German cars, the opportunity to make it more expensive still is there in spades.
It's horribly likely that cars with big V8 engines, such as this, are a doomed species. Legislation, both in terms of speed and emissions, will presumably, shortly, kill them off. So, cherish the C 63 S AMG. It is a truly glorious car, with an emotive soundtrack, pitch-perfect handling and tremendous quality. The best mid-sized super-saloon out there? You betcha...