Mercedes has released the first pictures of its C63 AMG sports saloon, which it hopes will take the fight to Audi's RS4 and the forthcoming BMW M3.
The flagship C-Class boasts 457bhp and 443lb ft of pull from its 6.3-litre V8 - figures that eclipse rival cars in the market. It boasts a 0-62mph time of 4.3 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph.
Its distinctive V8 is the same unit used in AMG models since 2005, and is derived from the unit used by Mercedes' DTM touring car racing machines.
The car is the first AMG car to feature automatic 'throttle-blipping' on downshifts, which ensures jolt-free gear changes.
Its seven-speed transmission is controlled by steering wheel-mounted paddles, which operate in sport, comfort and manual modes.
Mercedes claims handling has been improved by widening the car's front track by 35mm. The rear track has also been widened by 12mm. This ensures extra stability in corners and under braking.
The AMG also has a sophisticated stability programme, which comes with three settings: with ESP on, the car's computer brakes one or more of the wheels if needed, and at the same time reduces the engine's pull.
For enthusiasts, there's an 'ESP Sport' setting, which means the programme still retains some control over braking and engine pull, but allows the driver more freedom over how he wants the car to handle for more driving excitement.
Finally, 'ESP Off' mode means there's no intervention to control the car, so you get all the engine's pull. It's a setting best left for experienced drivers on track days, Mercedes says.
The car comes with 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, but 19-inch wheels are available as an option.
Inside and out, there's a host of AMG-branded trim and bodykit, and bespoke instruments, too.
The car will go on sale early in 2008, but models aren't expected to be available in the UK until summer that year.
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