2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 16, 2008

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG sports a fluid ride, spot-on handling, and shrieking power to make it the most accomplished C-Class ever built.

The car experts at TheCarConnection.com read all the latest reviews on the new 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG to compile this conclusive review. TheCarConnection.com's editors also drove the Benz C63 AMG in Germany and the United States to bring you the best information and opinions on the new AMG Mercedes, to compare it with other cars in the class, and to help you decide which car is best for you.

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is the fastest C-Class Mercedes of all, and from first glance, it's clear that it's no ordinary German sedan.

In becoming an AMG model, the C-Class sedan gets plenty of hot add-ons, including new wheel flares and a bubbled-up hood, as well as new front and rear bumpers, badges, air intakes, and LED taillamps. But it's the transformation under the hood that changes its personality from efficient to ferocious.

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The C63 AMG is powered by the first engine developed entirely by AMG: a 6.3-liter V-8 that produces 451 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque for a breathtaking acceleration time of 4.3 seconds from 0-60 mph. Teamed to a seven-speed automatic transmission, its top speed is 155 mph, but a special option on the order form for the 2009 model year lets you remove the limiter so that the C63 drill its way through the troposphere at 186 mph.

The cockpit's been updated too, with comfy sport seats, a better audio system, and new trim, none of which do much to tone down the button-afflicted interior. Along with the sheer power at hand, the pop-up navigation system adds to the feeling of helming a Boeing 737.

Crash performance (six airbags and stability control are standard) and fuel economy are good, but it's the AMG C63's stupefying handling and traction that draws in enthusiasts. The C63 AMG claws the pavement like it's racing to a catfight, brakes with the authority of a Supreme Court justice, and loves to blip up and down with its paddle-shifted automatic. There's no manual transmission option, though we didn't find it to be a fatal flaw.

The Benz C63 AMG does have some clay in its feet, though. The rear seat has tight head- and legroom, and the black upholstery adds to the sense of confinement. The trunk space is big enough for a family's long weekend of luggage, though.

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2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Styling

The 2008 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG dons a hardcore performance that transforms its C-Class silhouette.

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG—the most powerful, dramatic-looking version of the Benz C-Class compact family--wears the equivalent of a biker jacket over its normally staid four-door suit, with fender flares, spoilers, and cues to show off the powerful engine lurking underneath its hood.

BusinessWeek, not exactly sure what to make of this AMG Mercedes's looks, says that "it's clear that something wicked has overtaken the C-Class [and] muted its sometimes awkward look." MyRide.com agrees, especially when comparing the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG to its (unnamed) BMW rival; despite some questionable design features that include prominent badges and "power domes" on the hood as well as a plethora of air intakes, "compared to a certain other German automaker that produces performance cars that are specially 'M'arked," they say, the [Mercedes-Benz] C63 AMG is "downright subtle."

Several sources consulted by TheCarConnection.com, including Automobile and AutoWeek, use strong, masculine descriptors for the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, such as the ever-popular "aggressive." On the other hand, Detroit News gives this AMG Mercedes more feminine attributes, comparing it to a "fashion model snaking into a pair of tight jeans" (not a terribly accurate description, since this year's Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG weighs a hefty 3,800 pounds.)

Edmunds describes the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG's interior as "well-crafted" but "a bit austere," while Automobile calls it "a functional and well put together driver's environment." MyRide.com mentions the "newly developed AMG leather sport seats, a three-spoke AMG sport steering wheel with aluminum shifter paddles and an AMG gauge cluster," pointing out that although "none of that makes it any faster...it does carry the sporting motif inside."

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2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Performance

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG has thunderous acceleration, deft handling, and strong braking.

Reviewers from respected automotive Web sites praised the cut-and-thrust ability of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.

European CarWeb reports that the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG's 6.2-liter V-8 engine develops a maximum of 451 horsepower at 6,100 rpm, and peak torque of 443 pound-feet at 5,000 rpm--80 percent of which is available between 2,000 and 6,250 rpm, where the engine redlines. This source assures us that "there's virtually no situation where you'll be at a loss for acceleration."

The theoretical top speed of this AMG Mercedes is well in excess of 160 mph, but the L.A. Times reports an electronic governor that prevents the AMG Mercedes from going over 155 mph. Nonetheless, "it should be one hell of a ride," thanks largely to the fact that "each engine is hand-built by one technician, who then signs it"; from a dead stop, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG attains 60 mph in just under 4.5 seconds. And Road & Track points out that if one opts for "the optional driver's package...top speed runs an unfettered 174 mph."

Despite the AMG Mercedes's many available options designed to improve driving enjoyment, Motor Trend notes one glaring omission: "there's (still) no manual transmission." Despite this, the people at Motor Trend had few complaints about the seven-speed automatic--which, to be fair, does offer a manual mode (sans clutch). The L.A. Times describes the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG's seven-speed automatic gearbox as "spectacular."

Aside from the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG's understandable thirst for gasoline--it "slurps gasoline like a linebacker on Gatorade" at an EPA-estimated 12/18 mpg—the Detroit News acknowledges that "there are precious few places short of a race track where you can drive this car anywhere near its potential."

Consumer Guide reports that the "ride is firm, but not brick-hard in the way of many high-performance cars," largely due to the "AMG-tuned suspension." Brakes are "more than up to the performance...this car just hunkers down and stops...no muss, no fuss." According to Edmunds, the 2008 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG enjoys "responsive steering, stable handling [and] smooth ride quality." Forgoing the calm, mature descriptions, Automobile writes that, with electronic stability control turned off, "the C63 AMG qualifies as a hooligan's delight, but this doesn't mean that it's constantly struggling for traction and composure." This source says that compared to similar vehicles from Audi and BMW, the C63 AMG "further elevates the level of adhesion, and when it senses that the driver wants to play, it plays along."

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2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Comfort & Quality

Although not at the top of its class, the 2008 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG gives its occupants little to gripe about when it comes to comfort--unless they're stuck in the backseat.

The 2008 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG offers great comfort levels, even if the quarters are a bit cramped.

In front, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG has great, "deeply bucketed sport seats...with adjustments for side bolsters and lumbar support" as reported by ForbesAutos. However, ConsumerGuide says "the C63 has the same tight cabin as any other C-Class model. Rear-seaters are frankly cramped with six-footers up front, so for all practical purposes this nominal four-passenger sedan is a two-adults-plus-two-kids proposition." ForbesAutos concurs, reporting "backseat legroom will be at a premium for longer-legged riders." However, some reviews read by TheCarConnection.com praise the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG as an improvement over its predecessor in this respect.

Edmunds reports that, overall, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG "has grown up only ever so slightly from the last generation"; the trunk capacity is only 12.4 cubic feet, but can be expanded by folding down the rear seats. This, according to BusinessWeek, is "big enough for a family's long weekend of luggage," however.

Some interior finishes and functions were deemed less than perfect by writers from major auto Web sites. The Detroit News reports that the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG "lacks daytime lighting for the instruments," adding that "the sun visors do not slide on their support rods to block the sun from the side." ConsumerGuide expresses some disappointment in the "amount of hard, industrial-looking plastic."

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG sound levels are "good by performance-car standards," according to ConsumerGuide: "tire thrum is constant but tolerable, and highway wind rush nicely muffled." Engine noise from inside the cabin "comes through as a just distant, delightful blend of high-pitched cam whine, low-pitched exhaust burble, and big-chested breathing."

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2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Safety

Occupants enjoy great standard safety equipment in the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, but no crash tests have been performed.

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG has not been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The C63 AMG does include a full complement of airbags (seven altogether) as well as belt tensioners and force limiters. BusinessWeek reports anti-lock brakes and stability control are standard. According to other sources, the stability control can be overridden by the driver who wants complete control over the vehicle.

J.D. Power also reports that the 2008 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG employs one of the most advanced accident-avoidance systems available. Called PRE-SAFE, this "preventative occupant protection system" combines several electronic safety systems to prepare the vehicle for a crash. PRE-SAFE tightens seatbelts, opens windows a bit, and readies the brakes for an emergency by using sensors to predict rapid acceleration or deceleration that typically happens prior to an accident.

Few of TheCarConnection.com's sources discuss visibility issues; Cars.com, however, says that with the number of "power seat adjustments and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel" possible in the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, "it's easy to find a comfortable driving position that affords good forward, side and rear visibility."

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2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Features

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG has enough high-tech gadgets and conveniences to satisfy the most demanding technophile.

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG comes equipped with a raft of standard gear and offers a few cutting-edge options.

BusinessWeek reports that the base Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG has "all sorts of standard gear: power everything, a sunroof, Sirius satellite radio, an AM/FM/CD player [as well as] leather seats." The "previous and awkward-to-use version of Mercedes' COMAND system" has been greatly simplified, according to Edmunds; the AMG Mercedes now features "physical dash buttons with a mouselike controller and a large LCD screen that pops out of the dash upon startup."

TheCarConnection.com notes some mixed reviews on the subject optional features. One thing is certain: You'll pay plenty for extras on the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. ConsumerGuide notes that these range from "mundane features like metallic paint ($710) and a CD changer ($450)" to more useful options such as the Tele Aid communications link ($450). At over $1,000, the Premium 2 package adds "bi-xenon headlamps, heated headlamp washers, and a power rear-window shade" to the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.

Audiophiles who simply must have the latest and greatest stereo sound system in their AMG Mercedes will pay almost $3,000 extra for a CD changer, Harman-Kardon Logic 7 audio, and a voice-controlled navigation system with seven-inch power-retracting dashboard screen. Edmunds reports that the Multimedia Package transforms the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG "into a mobile sound studio -- and movie theater," with a built-in, 4GB hard drive and DVD capability (these only appear on the pop-up LCD screen when the vehicle is in park). This package also includes the "superb Logic 7 surround-sound system" and Bluetooth connectivity.

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