Warning: The Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG may be addictive

Consumer Reports News: August 24, 2010 10:14 AM

When it comes to sportiness, Mercedes-Benz, renowned icon of the solid and the sedate, typically plays second fiddle to archrival BMW. Not so with the C63 AMG. With this car, Mercedes lets its hair down.

The C-Class is Mercedes' smallest sedan, but with this special model, it gets the company's largest V8 engine. That's a formula that worked magic in the 1960s, launching the muscle car era, and it is a strategy that still fuels excitement today. The transformation is managed by AMG, a wholly owned speedshop that modifies Benzes into fierce, high-performance monsters, much like BMW's M division.

To sample the fun factory's latest creation, we borrowed a C63 from Mercedes-Benz for a fee. This 2011 example had the optional AMG Development package that adds 30 horsepower to the standard 451 horses. It also adds $6,050 to the $58,200 base price.

But that's not the main story here.

This AMG is all about the exhilarating driving experience. Handling is superlative with exquisite steering, brake feel, and body control. Sometimes stuffing a big V8 in a smallish car makes it nose heavy. Not so here. The C63 feels just about perfectly balanced. Piloting it at our track with the stability control system switched off was such a delight that it ought to come with a surgeon-general's warning. Admittedly, in the real world, that ESC system can provide a welcomed measure of safety.

The V8 is a normally aspirated powerplant that delivers abundant thrust at any rpm and emits a bark that means business, reminiscent of a Corvette. The C63 may be a four-door sedan, but it could shame some dedicated sports cars. Even the seven-speed automatic, the only tranny offered, doesn't take away from the thrill. Furthermore, unlike many other fire-breathers, the C63 doesn't beat you to death with a harsh ride or excessive cabin noise.

Despite its extreme capabilities, it isn't a cop magnet. From the outside, this stealth fighter looks much like a regular C300 and it blends right in with civil society. Still, it should also come with a PG rating. More like PG-35. This bad boy requires a responsible adult at the helm.

Needles to say, we loved this car. And not to worry, we replaced those tires before we gave the car back.

Gabe Shenhar

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