When: May 2011
Where: Seville, Spain
What: 2011 Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Coupé
Occasion: International first drive
Overall rating: 4/5
BMW's M3 finally gets a rival with the correct number of doors, rear-wheel drive and naturally aspirated V8 power. Step up the new C 63 AMG Coupé, a 6.2-litre V8 engined, two-door grin machine.
Engine: 6.2-litre, V8 petrol
Transmission: seven-speed AMG MCT automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door coupé
Rivals: BMW M3 Coupé, Lexus IS F, Audi RS 5
CO2 emissions: 280g/km (Band G, €2,100 per annum)
Combined economy: 12 litres/100km (23.5mpg)
Top speed: 250km/h (electronically limited)
0-100km/h: 4.4 seconds
Power: 463hp at 6,800rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 5,000rpm
In the metal 4/5
The base C-Class Coupé's relative conservatism is enhanced by AMG adding a rippled bonnet (aluminium, naturally) and a bumper with deeper intakes to better feed the V8 nestling behind it. There are AMG wheels housed in widened arches too, and a diffuser-style under-bumper insert at the rear containing AMG's signature oval quad exhausts. The boot lid wears a lip spoiler too and there are a few '6.3' badges in case those exhausts didn't let you know there's something serious powering it.
Nothing revolutionary outside then, and much the same is true inside. There's a chunkier steering wheel; deep, bolstered sports seats; and a proper ESP button - the C 63 AMG Coupé's relatives require menu-navigating to switch off its stability systems rather than a quick button prod.
Driving it 4/5
Any car with AMG's 6.2-litre V8 engine in it is going to be rapid and the C 63's 4.4-second 0-100km/h time is comfortably faster than the M3 and Audi RS 5's times. The electronic limiter kicks in at 250km/h, but AMG will raise that if required. It's a gloriously uncouth powerplant, popping and cackling on the overrun, the tearing, rasping shriek it produces as it relentlessly spools up revs a sound that you'll never tire of - even if your neighbours might.
It has found a good home in the coupé, not least as Mercedes-Benz seems to be finding its driving mojo of late. Stiffer, lower, wider suspension in the AMG does little to upset the decent ride and body control, the C 63 AMG handling mid-corner bumps (or aggressively hopped kerbs on track) with real composure. It's unerringly friendly for a car with 463hp driving the rear wheels only, though it'll play the utter hooligan if the mood takes you.
The steering's accuracy and weighting helps here, though it'd be better with more feel at the wheel's chunky rim. The brakes shrug off anything you'd reasonably expect to ask of them on the road, though if you're off to the track you might want to tick the box for the optional composite brakes for grumble-free high-speed punishment. Even with ESP left turned on the C 63 feels gloriously rear-biased. Pressing Sport allows the driver to experience that more, it delivering fear-free degrees of slip, reigning in any over enthusiasm on the road.
Switch off the ESP and you can drive it as neatly and quickly as you like, or mess around looking out the side window creating tyre smoke. Drop a couple of gears via the quick-shifting wheel-mounted paddles, stab the accelerator and listen to the revs rise, the tyres shriek and the humourless driver in an SLS AMG pace car telling us off again for messing about on the circuit. It's all for you readers...
What you get for your money 3/5
Your €96,500 buys you that wonderful V8 soundtrack wrapped up in a decently specified, good-looking coupé. Set aside a bit more cash though, as you'll want the Performance Pack that ups power; and the Driver's Pack for a higher top speed, sports seats and a limited slip differential. And that's before you've started messing about with the interior specification and adding satnav etc... Not cheap, then.
Want to know if the C 63 Coupé is packing the Performance Pack? Look out for red brake callipers, a carbon-fibre boot lip spoiler and AMG's Performance steering wheel with Alcantara inserts. Pay for it and the power increases to 493hp and the 0-100km/h time drops to 4.3 seconds thanks to forged pistons, connecting rods and a lightweight crankshaft removing 3kg of mass from the engine's internals.
It's been a long time coming but the Mercedes-Benz C-Class can now offer a proper rival to BMW's M3 Coupe. Typically AMG punches with more power and it's right up with its rival on poise, too. It's expensive though, with a number of pricey options required to deliver its very best.