2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe review: Raw and riveting

This is one of the best sports coupes around.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

There is a route I like to use to test cars late at night. It is a mixture of roads with uneven and smooth surfaces, as well as a few highways, including entry and exit ramps, cloverleaf junctions and long, straight strokes to see how a car performs at speed. These exploratory expeditions really allowed me to get to know a car, and the late night schedule means there is very little traffic. With most vehicles, I run once and come home for the night. But cars like the 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe push me to stay out longer.

I do not like

  • Hard ride
  • Advanced driver assistance technology is mostly optional
  • Very narrow rear seat

V8 biturbo heart

Things get interesting from the moment you push the C63’s engine start button and the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine comes to life. Its low, loud exhaust note at idle lets you know that 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque are well awake and ready to party. This is in the S model, however, which has a nice boost over the normal C63’s 469 hp and 479 lb-ft. AMG claims the S can reach 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and reach an electronically limited speed of 180 mph. The non-S is a tenth slower at 60 mph and tops out at 155.

Put the C63’s engine to work and it doesn’t take long to realize it’s a special piece. It’s a strong muscle car with thrust anywhere in the rev range. Maximum torque comes in at just 1,750rpm and keeps pulling hard all the way to the 7,000rpm red line, producing great sounds all the time.

Powering the C63’s rear wheels is a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission. With the car in Dynamic or Race mode, it’s worth manually selecting gears using the steering wheel-mounted metal paddles. Responses to the shift commands are almost immediate, which makes it easy to keep the engine boiling during acceleration and quickly drop a gear or two when braking.

When you’re not squeezing it, the C63’s transmission is happy to unwind with a Comfort setting. This brings things back: the power delivery isn’t as hyperactive and the gearbox provides smooth launches and swaps. If you can keep your right foot in check, the EPA estimates a fuel economy return of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 26mpg on the highway. Not too run down considering the power of the engine.

The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 delivers 503 horsepower in the C63 S specification.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

AMG reflexes

The C63 goes like hell and sounds business that way, but it’s not light, at 4,134 lbs. But you never feel that weight in motion. Each C63 S has adaptive shock absorbers, limited slip differential, variable electromechanical steering, and an incredible number of traction and stability control settings to aid in its driving mission. My test car is armed with a couple of other optional gadgets such as offset Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires (255 / 35ZR19 front, 285 / 30ZR20 rear) and carbon-ceramic brakes.

With the C63 in Sport Plus, the thing gets strong grip as it rounds corners with the body staying nearly flat. The steering is direct, communicative and responsive and the car goes exactly where you point it. Carbon brakes are sturdy, offer just the right amount of initial grip and progressive pedal behavior. Due to all of this, the C63 feels much lighter and more castable than its weight number would suggest.

He’s happy to let the good times slip by – or rather, slip by – with the stability control switchable in the Pro or Master driving settings. In Basic or Advanced, however, the C63 kills the side fun fast. But you can totally adapt it to your preferred skill level. There are four stability modes, nine traction control settings, four transmission options, three suspension modes, and two exhaust programs to tinker with. It is a little excessive; I will limit myself to the pre-programmed Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Race options.

The dynamic drawback here is the ride quality. Even in Comfort mode, the C63 is pretty rough and you’ll feel every road defect. If you’re willing to accept firmer driving in exchange for more cornering ability, you’ll be fine.

The interior is comfortable but the COMAND technology is a little dated.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

Subtle aggression

Backing up the performance are the C63’s attractive looks. It’s clean and curvy with a bit of aggression mixed through the Mercedes Pan-American grille. The vertical slat design creates a good looking front end, unlike the schnoz on the new BMW M4. My tester also has other optional visual touches like matte gray paint, carbon fiber pieces, glossy black trims, and five-spoke wheels with glossy lips. All are tasteful and add to the coupe’s beautiful and sinister stance.

The cabin is also elegant, with a sleek and intuitive layout built with high quality materials. The dashboard and large portions of the door panels are wrapped in leather and neatly stitched together, and there’s a smattering of brushed aluminum and carbon fiber trim that breaks things down. It’s light and airy thanks to the panoramic roof and optional AMG Performance seats that offer plenty of support without being uncomfortable. The 10.5 cubic feet of trunk space is useful, but the rear seat isn’t as accommodating.

The infotainment supervision is Mercedes’ proven COMAND system with a 10.2-inch central screen. Since there is no touchscreen, which controls the pleasant sounding Burmester audio setup, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, optional navigation and AMG Track Pace data logger is primarily up to the rotary controller on the console. Entering addresses in navigation is a hassle and changing satellite radio stations takes a significant second, but COMAND remains an intuitive interface to use. However, it cannot compete with modern MBUX technology.

On the driver assistance technology front, the C63 receives a forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and attention assistance as standard. If you want things like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, rear cross traffic warning, head-up display, parking sensors, or 360-degree camera, they are available as options.

The C63 is much more interesting than rivals from Audi, BMW or Lexus.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

How would I specify it

As much as I like the optional wheels, glossy black and carbon fiber exterior parts, the additional cost is high. This car is priced at $ 106,440, including $ 995 per destination. I’d exercise a little more restraint for my ideal car, still splurging on some visual enhancements like a $ 2,020 Selenite Gray matte paint job and $ 900 carbon fiber interior trim. I’ll also choose ceramic brakes at the $ 5,450 carbon and $ 2,500 AMG performance seats to make it more trackworthy, and the $ 200 wireless charging pad is an added bonus. All in all, my perfectly specified AMG coupe plays at $ 88,645, which isn’t too high of a climb from the base price of $ 78,495.

Sleep can wait

Driving the C63 S is an experience that appeals to all the senses. It has a mind-boggling appearance and wonderful V8 noises and has a more raw personality than competitors like the Audi RS5, BMW M4 and Lexus RC F. The AMG is simply a more interesting and engaging driver than the others, which makes me ride my night route over and over again. Who needs sleep, anyway?

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