With an amazing 451-horsepower V-8 and flared and creased bodywork, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is clearly no average C-Class. Whether it's your idea of a super German sedan--or if your tastes run more in the BMW M3 or Audi S4 vein--it's impossible to deny the C63's underhood sledgehammer and the balanced way it attacks the pavement.
The C-Class silhouette is reworked hard for the AMG look. Wheel arches are flared, the hood is blistered as if the engine underneath were too much to contain, and the usual discreet AMG badges are sprinkled around. It's expressive--and imposing. The interior's been through a worthwhile revamp in 2009, and it's cleaner to read and to work. It's trimmed out in AMG-specific gauges, metallic trim on the shift paddles and dash, though the radio is hobnailed by an array of black, low-relief buttons.
Back to the engine--it's why you're here, really. The wicked C63 rises from the humble C-Class with a 6.2-liter V-8 that erupts with 451 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. AMG's first home-grown powerplant slings the sedan to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and can press a top speed of 155 mph even higher with an optional sport pack. A seven-speed automatic transmission can't quite take the place of a true manual transmission option, or better yet, a dual-clutch tranny, but it's a great substitute, as it's blessed with rapid, decisive gear changes.
Fuel economy for the C63 is rated at 12/19 mpg.
Handling is bare essence: there's nearly zero body roll, faster steering, and peel-and-stick grip courtesy chunky 18-inch wheels and tires. Adding the performance package to the equation--with a limited-slip differential, perforated disc brakes and an Alcantara steering wheel--it's outrageous.
What's it like as a functional four-door? Suitable for two adults and their small friends. Front-seat passengers have plenty of room in snug-fitting AMG sport seats--but in the back, taller adults will have to lean over to fit. All rear passengers will find legroom at a premium, even when the front passengers inch forward. The trunk is a bit small, at 12.4 cubic feet.