Italian Alps

Backyard Thunder Mercedes Benz C63s AMG

The C63 has always’ been the most European interpretation of a classic Muscle car. A big, powerful baritonal-sounding engine at the front with plenty of torque, creature comforts and a charismatic presence on the road. Deriving from the regular production line-up, this car could be seen as one of the true factory hot rod on the market today. Introduced for the first time in 2008 with the W204 series C Class, the C63 was the heir to the glorious C dynasty, a true AMG flagship. Powered by the glorious naturally aspirated 6.2l M156 V8, it had serious power under the bonnet and was always capable of delivering an exhilarating ride. Available as a cupè, sedan and wagon, it offered its tremendous appeal to a wide range of customers: as a matter of fact, the W204 C63 was produced in 40.000 units between 2008 and 2015.

Introduced at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the new W205 C Class was developed even further from the previous generation, adopting the new twin-turbocharged and wet-sumped M177 4l V8, virtually identical to the dry sump M178 used in the GT, which has been made available in two versions: the “normal” and the “S”, with 476 and 510 hp respectively. It also was the best-in-class torsional rigidity and fuel economy performance car of its segment, making the current generation C63 one of the most consumer-conscious buys on the market today.

But numbers and letters aside, AMG has been developing performance variants of the C class since the mid-nineties with the venerable C36, a six-cylinder sedan which stunned everyone for its performance back in the day, for one simple reason: it is perhaps the best car they make to this day. All generations, from the W202 to the modern W205 have always put together enthusiastic drivers and those who love to have their Mercedes with something “extra” on it. Plus, there’s nothing more fun to own a factory sleeper, that looks like a 220CDi with some AMG parts thrown on it that is capable of smoking any supercar it meets on its path.

Surely, the current generation might not be so “stealthy”, thanks to the big front grille and aggressive overall styling, but the car is still based on a regular C class bodyshell. More importantly, it is a proper AMG, with its deep-sounding hand-assembled V8 under the bonnet: nothing on the road sounds like this engine. It’s perhaps what makes people interested in AMG in the first place: it’s a monstrous powerhouse, menacing and intimidating but incredibly civilized at the same time. In a certain way, it sounds like how every V8 should: low and baritonal. Driving these pumped up Merc engines feel like playing an heavy metal staccato rhythm section on an 8 string guitar: lower is just better when it comes to V8’s! Yet, this M177 unit is a screamer when it revs to the redline and it is no lazy old thump typically associated with the a classic muscle car. Like its predecessor, the W205 can truly handle very well, and has a character of its own. The engine feels like the previous 6.2l V8 as it has instantaneous response thanks to the hot-V construction, which implies two turbochargers located in the V of the cylinders. This allows to drastically shorten the length of the exhaust intakes, allowing the turbines to spool up more rapidly and efficiently.

It’s a the kind of car that you will eventually take out to go hunting for the best mountain roads to make it drift: yes, it drifts constantly, especially on winter tires. This characteristic is a unique to the C63 as it is the kind of car which seemingly has too much power for what it is: it’s too powerful for being a sportscar and has simply too much weight for being a supercar. Its instantaneous power delivery is constantly being contained by the traction control, which literally cuts so much power under acceleration that the car feels like it has at least 150 hp less than it should. Yet, you can’t help it but to fall in love with it: put the car in race mode, turn the traction control off and you can regulate the levels of it via a specific knob on the steering wheel. This is something that every performance car should have: this might be the only way to drive the C63 fast without killing yourself. Let the car “breathe” a little by taking out some of the controls and just enjoy the ride.

The ideal destination to properly set up a test for this car is the best occasion for a “backyard escape”: look closely into your area, there might be an escape right around your back door. This is a celebration the kind of quick adventures that you can do with a magnificent motorcar such as this one.

Like a proper AMG it is a Merc on steroids: everything is pushed to a maximum, from comfort to on-board tech to sheer performance. For petrolheads, the greatest feature is the 8-way traction control system, which truly helps in tailoring the behaviour of the C63 to your needs.

On the roads on the northen region between the Lake Garda and Idro, around the small town of Valvestino there are roads which constantly change: from the long sweeping A roads to twisty and fun B roads that offer camber changes, challenging corners and plenty of space for some drifting too, this area is perfect for exploring the potential of this car. The C63 drives in a very old-school manner: you’re constantly correcting the oversteer, always trying to find the ideal grip and drifting the car constantly through corners. It will oversteer in almost every occasion and if you can truly drive it simply by exploiting the back-end drift.

On a fast road, it offers a pure adrenaline rush. It’s not immediately confidence inspiring but once you get the hang of it, it instantly becomes your friend. Brakes are great with an instantaneous bite and the immediate response from the throttle pedal and the chassis will remind you why this AMG is still a favourite among car enthusiast.

It’s a comfortable GT that can turn into a bad-ass cruiser and a canyon carver at the touch of a button. Maybe not an all-weather type of car, as its tail-happy behaviur will surely cause more than one concern in wet or snowy conditions, but as an overall package, it is fantastic for daily use. It is effortless like every powerful Merc should be and exhilarating as any proper GT shluld be.

Its personality, shaped by that wonderful V8 engine, is one of a kind still today, which in a world of standardized production and shared componentry, truly feels like a blessing. The C63 is still pocket-sized madness. Surely not small by sports-car standards, it offers plenty of power on demand, while maintaining an impeccable reputation as every Mercedes Benz should.

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