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    Pros
    • Incredible power and torque
    • A new era of performance cars for the segment
    • Excellent handling and comfort
    Cons
    • Very quiet compared to predecessor
    • Interior lacks uniqueness
    • Compromised boot space

    There was a lot of swearing in the first few minutes of driving the new Mercedes-AMG C63 in Spain last month.

    Here is a car that’s so stupidly fast you have to either laugh or swear to comprehend the sheer pace it rapidly piles on. We swore a lot and then laughed, both on track and around some of the twistiest and most challenging mountain roads we have ever conquered.

    This isn’t just ‘a new AMG C63’; this is a redefinition of passenger cars with supercar performance, and one that is set to usher in a new era of what we thought could be possible.

    Mercedes-AMG is a big deal in Australia. In fact, we’re the fourth largest market for the brand globally – not just by population, but in totality – meaning Australians love the men and women from Affalterbach, and AMG loves Australians. Do you know what else we love? Big, angry V8s.

    There is no point talking about the new Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance (to give it its full name) without pointing out the elephant in the room.

    No, it doesn’t have a V8 engine. It doesn’t even have the inline six from the AMG E53, it’s now powered by the same engine as the A45 S (but with even less noise) coupled to an incredible performance plug-in hybrid system that will revolutionise this segment forever.

    When BMW dropped the V8 for the F80 M3 in favour of a twin-turbo six, you could almost see AMG dealers licking their lips with joy in the hope that the V8-loving masses would give up on Munich and come over.

    With AMG moving from V8 to a four-cylinder, you can imagine BMW dealers gleaming with joy, looking to capitalise on the M3’s amazing performance and powertrain simplicity.

    Unfortunately for M dealers (much like AMG dealers when the F80 came out), the minute a prospective buyer gets in the new 500kW and ridiculous 1020Nm AMG C63 S E Performance, it will blow them away.

    There is no other way to put this, but the new C63 stands head and shoulders above its predecessor (which is still on sale in coupe form) and is undoubtedly going to redefine the class, albeit quietly (we will get to that). It’s coming to Australia in the middle of 2023, and orders will open soon.

    If you can’t get over the fact that this is a hybrid four-cylinder C63, we suggest thinking of it as a completely new car.

    Mercedes-AMG would no doubt have risked some reputation damage initially, but we feel it would have actually been beneficial long-term if it changed this car’s name to something unique that better represents what it actually is.

    In the same way Porsche has kept its Turbo and Turbo S names on its full-electric and definitely non-turbocharged Taycan, the folks at AMG have stuck to tradition and kept the C63 badge.

    Before you continue, the following articles are a must-read for those keen to understand how the new hybrid AMG C63 powertrain works, and are written to complement this review due to the incredibly technical details of the new hybrid powertrain and battery:

    You will notice from the photos, the new C63 is a menacingly good-looking car. It carries a great deal of aggressive lines from the front to the side and the rear.

    It’s also the absolute first time that a AMG C-Class is riding on a slightly different platform to the regular car.

    The 2023 Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance is 10mm longer than even the upcoming AMG C43 (which is a mild-hybrid, not a PHEV), thanks largely to the packaging requirements of the hybrid battery system, as well as what was required to keep the vehicle’s 50:50 weight distribution (unheard of in previous generations).

    The front-end design is that of an angry yet controlled beast accentuated by its wheel arches, grille and hard lines. You will notice there is an actual scoop in the bonnet for cooling requirements, which sees the air come in via that massive front grille and escape out of the scoop.

    There is a slightly uncharacteristic side vent that is… well, fake. We are not sure it needs to be there, and it’s not something we would expect to see on an AMG given it has no function except to look good (which it admittedly does).

    The rear is a beefed up version of the regular C-Class but carries a tiny spoiler and has functioning air vents from the rear arches for both aerodynamics and brake cooling.

    The characteristic quad pipe design remains and looks the business (even if you can see the real singular exhaust pipe per side if you look closer). We also love that the new C63 badges are red, it adds that little bit of extra menace to the car’s character.

    From an overall design perspective, we would have loved to see slightly wider rear wheel arches to match the aggressive ones at the the front.

    But, it’s still unmistakably an AMG C63 from any angle you look and we have no doubt the most aggressive rear is being kept for the next-generation C63 Coupe (which will likely be called the CLE 63) destined for release in the near future.

    How does the Mercedes-AMG C fare vs its competitors?
    View a detailed breakdown of the Mercedes-AMG C against similarly sized vehicles.

    How much does the Mercedes-AMG C63 E Performance cost?

    Pricing for the new AMG C63 is yet to be announced, however we anticipate it will start in the very low $200,000 range on-road.

    The current AMG C63 Coupe is still technically on sale for $190,000 before on-roads, though you will find some sellers are asking as much as $220,000.

    The price increase is driven by many factors including market economics, increased cost of parts, and just good old-fashioned inflation.

    Also the cost of producing that old twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 is lower than a four-cylinder turbo, electric powertrain and motors, plus a high performance lithium-ion battery and then getting it to all work together.

    What’s under the bonnet?

    There is a lot to dissect here and we strongly recommend you read our detailed articles on the powertrain and battery to understand the technology and issues like cooling.

    Nonetheless, the basics for the 2023 Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance are a 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine borrowed and refined from the AMG A45 S, making 350kW of power and 545Nm of torque in the C63.

    That in itself is incredibly impressive given the old twin-turbo V8 had 375kW of power and 750Nm of torque and this engine is half the size.

    Add in a 6.1kWh high-performance AMG battery powering the “permanently excited” synchronous motor with 150kW of power and 320Nm of torque, and all of sudden you have a car that has system outputs of 500kW and a ridiculous 1020Nm of torque. 

    That might is sent to all four wheels, meaning blistering acceleration and poise never before seen in a C63.

    Mercedes-AMG says the new C63 can go from 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds, and our testing showed it can do that day-in, day-out. It was also hovering around 7.0 seconds for the 100-200km/h run – or about the same as a Ferrari 488.

    Yes it has a kerb weight of 2165kg, but the performance figures are a huge step up. We are talking acceleration figures that comfortably beat some variants of the Lamborghini Huracan.

    How does the Mercedes-AMG C63 E Performance drive?

    There is a lot that can be said about a sports car that weighs almost 2.2 tonnes, or about 400kg more than the car it replaces.

    There’s no hiding that amount of mass on a specification sheet, but remember this does the 100km/h dash more than half a second quicker than the old car despite the weight disadvantage.

    Our first impressions of the outright speed are beyond words. This is supercar levels of fast all the way to 200km/h and beyond. It’s as sickeningly fast as it is relentless.

    The way the power and electric boost come on at the same time means there is literally no lag. Powered by the 400V on-board electrical system, the electric exhaust gas turbocharger doesn’t just need the gases to get going, so it’s always spooled up (like anti-lag), while the electric motor and battery kick in immediately when required.

    On track (we went to Ascari), the are even modes in which you can let the car work out where to best deploy its electric energy and when to recover.

    It’ll also be able to determine whether you are going for a full-scale qualifying attack lap, or if you wish to do drive more on the endurance side of things.

    Fans of Formula 1 will know this is literally what those drivers have to do. Check out the video above to see what we mean.

    So the real question is not ‘is it quick?’ – it’s blisteringly fast – but ‘how are the driving dynamics and feel?’.

    The new C63 has a perfect 50:50 weight distribution and as this photo will illustrate, that is due to the engine being at the front, and the motor and battery being at the back. It helps keep the car stable and given it’s now all-wheel drive, it also means significantly better grip and handling despite its insane levels of power and torque.

    We drove for hours around Malaga’s incredibly twisty and tight mountainous roads and felt the C63 is super solid and composed with great use of its adaptive dampers and extra braces and sway bars (front and rear) to make it seem far less heavy than it really is.

    The steering does get heavier as you go through the modes but the artificial weight doesn’t seem to make up for the sharpness that you get from an M3, so while it’s very direct and responsive, it lacks a bit of communication between what’s happening at the front wheels and your fingers.

    Coming out of tight corners you no longer have to really feather the throttle for fear of massive oversteer moments – although you can force the C63 to push all its might to the rear-wheels if you are game and wish to shred some rubber – and can get on the gas much earlier and more aggressively, and use the front end to dig you out.

    This is definitely a car where, even on a twisty mountain road, the limitations are not going to be the car’s dynamics, but the driver. It has such solid pace and builds up so much confidence you feel like you can keep going faster, and faster, and faster… until you realise that the speed limit was a few suburbs away.

    It’s important to realise we did all of this driving, on road and on track, on the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. It’s a great tyre but in comparison BMW tends to offer M cars on Cup 2s, which are a level above in terms of grip and performance.

    The driving feel itself is very refined. The only occasional judder comes from the electric drive unit with its two-speed transmission (in addition to the nine-speed standard gearbox coupled to the 2.0-litre engine), which shifts from first to second at around 140km/h when the electric motor hits 13,5000 RPM. 

    It tends to stay in second even if you go below that speed if it knows you’re driving like a madman, but will eventually go back to first when you calm down. Although that makes for 11 actual gears in total, the combination of electric drive and standard transmission ratios is more vast.

    There are eight driving modes (read about that here), but the car starts in electric mode (about 13km of EV range from full charge at up to 125km/h) so there is no rumbling V8 sound when you turn it on – actually there’s no sound whatsoever, which is a little surreal for a C63.

    It’s ideal for when you want to leave the house and neighbourhood quietly, but we can also imagine taking your brand new C63 to a car meet whereby it proceeds to sound like an Camry Hybrid taxi as it starts up and glides by.

    You can of course, change the mode to Sport, Sport+ or Race and get the engine to wake up by force, it will do it by itself and remain in Comfort mode otherwise.

    At Ascari race track, we found ourselves a little dumbfounded as Mercedes threw us the keys, put five-time DTM champion and legend Bernd Schneider in front and said, literally ‘go for it’. And we did.

    Bernd wasn’t taking any prisoners, as he knows when the Australians are around to go that bit faster… and he did. So there we were, going ten tenths (to be honest, probably eleven tenths to keep up), on one of the most technical tracks you can imagine in a car that weighs a lot more than it feels.

    Our on track expressions are firstly, we can’t believe they let us do that (given how contrived manufacturers usually are to highlight only the good things about their car and limit the negatives) and secondly, bloody hell this thing is incredibly fast no matter what you throw at it!

    There are a few corners at Ascari that force a great deal of weight transfer, and only then did we occasionally feel the C63 struggling to maintain its side-by-side weight transition smoothly, but even Bernd had a few moments visiting a bit of grass he was pushing so hard.

    We still ended up with lap times that made the old car… well, feel old. All of this on regular road tyres (265/35 R20 front, 275/35 ZR20 rear).

    Let’s be clear, this isn’t a track car. Put on a set of Cup 2s or Trofeo Rs and it will likely destroy many things far more expensive on any track, but it’s still not a car built to do regular track days. It’s a sports car that happens to be incredibly fast and composed no matter the situation.

    Given how well the M3 performed on our lap time leaderboard, we look forward to putting the new C63 against the timer.

    In terms of ride quality, the C63 has historically been a far better car than its BMW counterpart for comfort and this remains unchanged for the new generation. In Comfort mode, it could just as well be a C200 given how smooth it feels and rides.

    Put it in Race mode and it becomes super stiff and jarring. The good news is you can customise the hell out of the modes, having the engine and transmission on full blast while keeping the dampers soft. This is ideal for mountain roads.

    Admittedly, Spain doesn’t seem to have many poorly surfaced roads so we will wait and see how it goes on Aussie roads in time.

    So here is the question you have been waiting for, does it sound any good? Here is a video of it revving in neutral (capped at 4000rpm) mixed in with it doing a flyby at the race track.

    Something worth noting is the cars tested here are European specification and have the dreaded petrol particulate filter (PPF) which is yet to be confirmed for our market. This definitely sucks the life and soul out of the engine in terms of sound.

    Does the new C63 have fake sound? In pure EV model the AMG makes a legally required sound for pedestrians (up to around 30km/h). This is done so via an external speaker at the front and a sound bar with two speakers at the rear. If you want to hear this all time, you can turn it on for all speeds.

    In the Sport settings, AMG says the real sound of the combustion engine is picked up via a sensor in the exhaust system, enhanced (amplified), and pumped back into the cabin via the sound system. The same noise is further amplified using the same exterior speakers mentioned before. Upon testing we can confirm it is louder inside than it is outside.

    Is the exhaust note fixable with some modifications? We assume so, but will have to wait and see. But this is the beginning of what is to come from all manufacturers given the noise and emission regulations in Europe, and after many chats with AMG engineers it’s not something they themselves would have done if not forced to.

    Mercedes says the new C63 uses just 6.9L of premium fuel per 100km which is actually less than the C200/C300 thanks to its hybrid system, but that is not a real-world reflection of its fuel usage (plus the battery would need to be fully charged) which could easily be almost double that when the going gets fast.

    What is the Mercedes-AMG C63 E Performance like on the inside?

    A few might be surprised by this but the interior of the new Mercedes-AMG C63 left us a little underwhelmed. Yes it’s a technical masterpiece and there are enough screens to make Tesla owners jealous, but that’s about it.

    The interior is almost identical to the C43 AMG. The front sport seats are not even unique and you will be hard pressed to find anything that says you bought the absolute best C-Class money can buy.

    It’s a comfortable and easy place to be for a daily driver but don’t expect to be wowed by it. There was a time when Mercedes was leagues ahead in interior innovation and quality, but BMW and Audi have definitely closed that gap.

    There’s no denying the quality of the MBUX infotainment system, and the pace and ease for how it works. The 11.9-inch vertically-oriented touchscreen is super high-resolution, and all the animations wouldn’t look out of place on an iPad or iPhone.

    Wireless Apple CarPlay worked well for the most part, even if it occasionally struggled to remain smooth in a way we haven’t seen on German rivals, and the fact Mercedes-Benz has committed to keeping climate controls permanently at the base of the screen means you rarely need to go menu-diving.

    The driver display doesn’t deviate from what you’d expect of a Mercedes-Benz, with a clean layout and the ability to view maps on the move, while the head-up display is like having a widescreen TV floating in front of the car. We actually found this to be a little distracting when it came to performance driving and reduced the size considerably.

    It doesn’t feel like it has the same amount of usable passenger space in the rear as the M3 but it’s still very adequate for four average to large occupants. If you want more practicality, wait for the new GLC 63 AMG given there will no Estate (due to low demand).

    The boot capacity is compromised by the location of the battery and electric drive unit. There is no underfloor and the boot itself is annoyingly not flat.

    There is a structural brace behind the rear seats which the engineers have used to further strengthen the car’s structural rigidity.

    Measuring 324L for boot capacity puts it well below the 455 litres of the regular C-Class sedan but you can fit a few suitcases without issue and you’d have to buy half of Coles to fill it up, so we don’t feel like the real-world impact is all that significant.

    What do you get?

    Australian specifications of the new C63 are yet to be confirmed, but we anticipate our market to have a slightly higher standard level of specification than the cars we drove.

    What we know for sure on top of what you get in a C300:

    • AMG ride control suspension with aluminium double wishbones, anti-squat and anti-dive control, lightweight coil springs and stabiliser bar as well as Adaptive Damping System
    • Brakes: front 390mm internally ventilated and perforated brake discs, 6-piston aluminium fixed calliper; rear 370mm internally ventilated and perforated brake discs 1-piston aluminium floating calliper

    MORE: 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class price and specs

    Is the Mercedes-AMG C63 E Performance safe?

    The regular C-Class wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating, on the back of testing carried out in 2022. Although the C63 has a slightly different wheelbase and carries a battery and hybrid system, it’s fair to assume it will achieve similar results.

    The regular C-Class scored 91 per cent for adult occupant protection, 90 per cent for child occupant protection, 80 per cent for pedestrian protection, and 84 per cent for safety assist.

    Standard safety equipment includes:

    • 10 airbags incl. a centre-front airbag
    • AEB with pedestrian/cyclist detection
    • Surround-view camera
    • Front and rear parking sensors
    • Active Parking Assist
    • Adaptive cruise control
    • Driver attention monitoring
    • Lane-keep assist (steering assist)
    • Blind-spot monitoring w/ Exit Warning function
    • Active bonnet
    • Speed Limit assist
    • AEB junction assist
    • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
    • Blind-spot assist
    • Lane change assist
    • Lane following assist
    • Evasive steering assist
    • Side-impact anticipation and protection system
    • Traffic sign assist

    How much does the Mercedes-AMG C63 E Performance cost to run?

    All Mercedes-Benz models are covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

    The brand offers servicing plans for three, four, or five years of maintenance for the regular C-Class which is required every 12 months or 25,000km (as in the A45 where this engine is borrowed from).

    For the regular C-Class the costs are $2650 for three years, four services cost $3600, and five will cost $5200. We assume similar costings for the AMG as the hybrid unit is sealed for life and requires no maintenance

    CarExpert’s Take on the Mercedes-AMG C63 E Performance

    Here is the hard truth. You can hate on the new Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance for its lack of V8 and sound all you want, but it won’t care much for your opinion when it flies past.

    I’m the first to admit it’s not always about outright performance and the character, sound, and soul of a car are equally important. The good news is the C63 is not devoid of character by any means. It’s more like a boxer in an Iron Man suit.

    Besides, such is the state of the world now that angry rumbling V8s, V10s, and V12s are taking their last breaths. What AMG has managed to do is blend the very best of its internal combustion engines with a super capable hybrid performance system that will completely change your mind about the use of the technology.

    The best thing to do is drive one when the car shows up around July 2023.

    Click the images for the full gallery

    MORE: Everything Mercedes-AMG C63

    Alborz Fallah

    Alborz is the founder of CarAdvice (sold to Nine and now Drive) and co-founder of CarExpert. He is an honourary adjunct professor & entrepreneur in residence at the University of QLD. He loves naturally-aspirated V8s, V10s and V12s and is in denial about the impending death of the internal combustion engine.

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    8.8
    Overall Rating

    Ride Comfort9.5
    Safety9.1
    Fit for Purpose8
    Handling Dynamics8.6
    Interior Practicality and Space7.5
    Fuel Efficiency9.2
    Performance9.5
    Technology Infotainment9
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