2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

8.0
2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

The Basics:

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the latest AMG-powered C-Class and have written this road test summary from firsthand impressions. Editors have compiled a full review by collecting opinions and comments from other automotive Web sites, and have compared the 2010 C63 AMG with other supersedans, to give you a comprehensive look at the latest C63.

The 2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is no ordinary C-Class. It's the fastest of them all, a point that comes across easily from its flared and creased bodywork and is driven home by its amazing 451-horsepower V-8. Spun from the entry-level Mercedes-Benz sedan, the $58,225 C63 AMG gets a big V-8 engine, a sport-tuned suspension, big brakes, and a paddle-shifted automatic as it goes hunting for the likes of the Audi S4, BMW M3, Lexus IS-F, and Cadillac CTS-V.

The 2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG sports a fluid ride, spot-on handling, and shrieking power to make it the most accomplished C-Class ever built.

While it starts from the same four-door shape as the conventional C-Class, the C63 AMG looks the bahn-burning part, thanks to wheel flares, a bubbled-up hood, new front and rear bumpers, new badges, air intakes, and LED taillamps. The somewhat busy exterior shape could stand less visual jazz, but the roofline's tapering arc is growing more appealing over time. It's certainly more dramatic and edgier than the former C-Class, and the C63 in particular looks more expressive and imposing when it's on the road. The C63 AMG's interior was refined last year and has a simpler, cleaner design with large and clear AMG gauges, metallic trim on the shift paddles and dash, and an audio system hobnailed with identical black buttons. A pop-up navigation screen rises from the middle of the dash when in use.

The in-house tuners at AMG transform the unassuming C-Class into the slightly wicked C63 and alter its mood from efficient to ferocious. The rear-drive C63 AMG is powered by a massive 6.2-liter V-8 that rumbles out 451 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The first-ever power unit developed entirely by AMG spins out breathtaking numbers; the C63 shoots to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and can press a top speed of 155 mph even higher, to 186 mph, with an optional sport pack. There's a seven-speed automatic transmission-with no manual option (sorry, shifty types)-and it's a great substitute, with less pedal ballet and more focus on rapid, decisive gear changes. The C63 AMG tightens handling down to the bare essentials, with almost no body roll, as well as a revised front and rear suspension, a wider track, quicker steering, and big 18-inch wheels with 14.2-inch front disc and 13-inch rear disc brakes. It's a bravery-enhancing drug. And if it's not aggressive enough, Mercedes offers an AMG Performance Package that adds a limited-slip differential, two-piece perforated disc brakes, and an AMG steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara. At 9/10ths, the handling is controllable, brilliant, with just a touch of dynamic softness in its ride control. Fuel economy for the C63 is rated at 12/19 mpg.

What it gives in performance, the 2010 C63 AMG takes away in rear-seat room. Front-seat passengers have plenty of room in snug-fitting AMG sport seats. The driving position in the 2010 C-Class is quite good, between the telescoping steering wheel, the power driver seat, and the car's tall, glassy cabin. Not so in the back, where 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 C63 AMG's black upholstery adds to the sense of confinement. The trunk space is big enough for a family's long weekend of luggage, though, at 12.4 cubic feet. The C-Class's fit and finish benefit from fewer pieces, fewer cutlines, and simpler styling, and are much improved over the prior generation.

Both NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) have tested the 2010 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the results fall a bit shy of what TheCarConnection.com has come to expect from the brand. The federal agency gives it a four-star grade for frontal protection, but five-star ratings in side impact. The IIHS, conversely, calls the C-Class "good" for front-impact protection, but hasn't tested its side-impact strength. The C63 AMG comes equipped with dual front, side, curtain, and pelvic airbags, and they offer a rearview camera and rear-seat side airbags.

Most everything you'd expect is standard on the 2010 C63 AMG, including power sport seats; leather upholstery; an AMG gauge pack; a sunroof; dual-zone climate control; Bluetooth; Sirius; a telescoping steering wheel; cruise control; and a garage door opener. Option packages include a leather package, a multimedia package; and the AMG Performance Package. Stand-alone options include iPod integration, a roof spoiler, a rearview camera, rear side airbags, a six-disc CD changer, and alternative wood trim.

While it starts from the same four-door shape as the conventional C-Class, the C63 AMG looks the bahn-burning part, thanks to wheel flares and a bubbled-up hood-an "aggressive-looking body," as AutoWeek reports, as well as new front and rear bumpers, new badges, air intakes, and LED taillamps. Automobile says it's a "gung-ho street fighter," while the Detroit News compares it to a "fashion model snaking into a pair of tight jeans." The somewhat busy exterior shape could stand less visual jazz, but the roofline's tapering arc grows more appealing over time. BusinessWeek asserts, "it's clear that something wicked has overtaken the C-Class [and] muted its sometimes awkward look," and MyRide comments in comparison to the BMW M3, the C63 AMG is "downright subtle." It's certainly more dramatic and edgier than the former C-Class, and the C63 in particular looks more expressive and imposing when it's on the road-"sheer, extroverted extravagance," in the words of ConsumerGuide.

The C63 AMG's interior was refined last year and has a simpler, cleaner design with large and clear AMG gauges, metallic trim on the shift paddles and dash, and an audio system hobnailed with identical black buttons. A pop-up navigation screen rises from the middle of the dash when in use. Edmunds describes the 2010 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 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."

The in-house tuners at AMG transform the unassuming C-Class into the slightly wicked C63 and alter its mood from efficient to ferocious.

The rear-drive C63 AMG is powered by a massive 6.2-liter V-8 that rumbles out 451 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The L.A. Times points out "each engine is hand-built by one technician, who then signs it as a testament to their confidence in its quality." Signature or no, the first-ever power unit developed entirely by AMG spins out breathtaking numbers; the C63 shoots to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and can press a top speed of 155 mph even higher, to 186 mph, with an optional sport pack. It's "one hell of a ride," the L.A. Times crows, while Automobile calls it a "hooligan's delight" and AutoWeek describes its performance as "unshackled." The Detroit News sums it up as "slingshot acceleration," and ConsumerGuide boils it down to "big power, neck-straining thrust."

The AMG engine is bolted to a seven-speed automatic transmission-with no manual option (sorry, shifty types)-and it's a great substitute, with less pedal ballet and more focus on rapid, decisive gear changes. Motor Trend calls the lack of a manual gearbox a "chink in the C63's armor," but they note it has a manual-shift mode. The L.A. Times describes the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG's seven-speed automatic gearbox as "spectacular."

The C63 AMG tightens handling down to the bare essentials, with almost no body roll, boasting a revised front and rear suspension, a wider track, quicker steering, and big 18-inch wheels with 14.2-inch front disc and 13-inch rear disc brakes. It's "surgical handling," as the Detroit News puts it, and "there are precious few places short of a race track where you can drive this car anywhere near its potential." To TheCarConnection.com's editors, the C63's handling is a bravery-enhancing drug: controllable, brilliant, with just a touch of dynamic softness in its ride control. According to Edmunds, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG enjoys "responsive steering, stable handling [and] smooth ride quality." ConsumerGuide 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." Automobile compares it to Audi and BMW sports sedans and declares the C63 AMG "further elevates the level of adhesion, and when it senses that the driver wants to play, it plays along." If the stock C63's handling isn't aggressive enough, Mercedes offers an AMG Performance Package that adds a limited-slip differential, two-piece perforated disc brakes, and an AMG steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara.

Fuel economy for the C63 is rated at 12/19 mpg. It "slurps gasoline like a linebacker on Gatorade," the Detroit News observes.

What it gives in performance, the 2010 C63 AMG takes away in rear-seat room.

Front-seat passengers have plenty of room in "coddling" AMG sport seats that BusinessWeek says "nestle up about perfectly." The driving position in the 2010 C-Class is quite good, between the telescoping steering wheel, the power driver seat, and the car's tall, glassy cabin.

Edmunds reports this C63 "has grown up only ever so slightly from the last generation" of C-Class, and it's noticeable in the backseat, where taller adults will have to lean over to fit. 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." All rear passengers will find legroom at a premium, even when the front passengers inch forward. The C63 AMG's black upholstery adds to the sense of confinement. Edmunds concludes the interior is "austere and not very spacious."

The trunk space is big enough for a family's long weekend of luggage, though, at 12.4 cubic feet. The trunk can be expanded by folding down the rear seats, according to BusinessWeek.

The C-Class's fit and finish benefit from fewer pieces, fewer cutlines, and simpler styling, and are much improved over the prior generation, though some interior finishes and functions are deemed less than perfect by writers from major auto Web sites. The Detroit News reports the 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," though they observe sound levels are "good by performance-car standards."

Both NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) have tested the 2010 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the results fall a bit shy of what TheCarConnection.com has come to expect from the brand. The federal agency gives it a four-star grade for frontal protection, but five-star ratings in side impact. The IIHS, conversely, calls the C-Class "good" for front-impact protection, but hasn't tested its side-impact strength.

The C63 AMG comes equipped with dual front, side, curtain, and pelvic airbags, and it offers a rearview camera and rear-seat side airbags. BusinessWeek reports anti-lock brakes and stability control are standard. And they, along with most other sources, note the stability control can be disabled for track driving.

J.D. Power reports the 2010 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG employs one of the most advanced accident-avoidance systems available. Called PRE-SAFE, this is a "preventative occupant protection system" that combines several electronic safety systems to prepare the vehicle for a crash. PRE-SAFE tightens seatbelts, opens windows a bit, and prepares the brakes for an emergency by using sensors to predict rapid acceleration or deceleration that typically happens prior to an accident.

Visibility is better than in most sports cars, according to reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com. Cars.com says the combination of "power seat adjustments and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel" make it "easy to find a comfortable driving position that affords good forward, side and rear visibility."

Most everything you'd expect is standard on the 2010 C63 AMG, including power sport seats; leather upholstery; an AMG gauge pack; a sunroof; dual-zone climate control; Bluetooth; Sirius; a telescoping steering wheel; cruise control; and a garage door opener. 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."

Option packages include a leather package, a multimedia package, and the AMG Performance Package. Stand-alone options include iPod integration, a roof spoiler, a rearview camera, rear side airbags, a six-disc CD changer, and alternative wood trim.
ConsumerGuide notes that these range from "mundane features" like metallic paint and a CD changer to more useful options such as the TeleAid communications system.

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," as well as Bluetooth connectivity.

Buying Tips:

If you're driving your 2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG on the street, the optional AMG Performance pack isn't really necessary-it doesn't have those 31 mph added on the top end, but it saves about $4,000 on the final bill.

Other Choices:

  • 2008 Audi S4
  • 2008 Lexus IS F
  • 2008 BMW M3
  • 2007 Cadillac CTS-V

Reason Why:

The 2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG has its road work cut out for it, facing a quartet of compelling sedans in the same price and performance class. The Audi S4 is new this year with a supercharged V-6 engine, a lower price tag, and the benefit of all-wheel drive. The others return essentially unchanged from 2009, with the Cadillac CTS-V turning into an unexpected titan in the class, boasting Corvette-inspired power and knife-edged styling to set it apart. BMW's M3 is the perennial here, and it's offered in convertible and sedan forms, if four doors aren't sexy enough for you.

The Bottom Line:

The 2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG sports a fluid ride, spot-on handling, and shrieking power to make it the most accomplished C-Class ever built.

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