What Car? says...
AMG has form for shoehorning ridiculous engines into sensible cars, and the Mercedes-AMG C63 S is no exception. While the standard C-Class has fuel-sipping diesel or CO2-cutting plug-in hybrid options, the C63 S’s power source is decidedly extravagant.
How extravagant? How about a hand-finished, highly potent, twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine? Despite having a potentially traction-troubling 503bhp under the bonnet, the C63 S is only available with rear-wheel drive, with power routed through a standard nine-speed automatic gearbox. Acceleration is predictably eye-widening, with a top speed of up to 180mph, depending on the version.
However, if you’re worried the C63 S is just a sports car for a sunny Sunday drive, rest assured. It's available to order in every bodystyle the standard Mercedes C-Class comes in, which means there’s a saloon and estate for those who want practicality, and a coupé and convertible for those who… don’t.
The sparkle of that three-pointed star badge shouldn’t blind you to the talents of its high-performance rivals, though. These include the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (known as the QV) and BMW M3, which vie with the C63 S saloon for your attention. The Audi RS5 and BMW M4 that are natural rivals to the C63 S coupé, while the Audi RS4 Avant lines up in competition with the C63 S Estate.
If you’re tempted by that AMG allure, stick with us to find out our verdict on which model, spec and body style to go for with our in-depth review of the C63 S. When you're done choosing, simply head over to our New Car Buying service – amazing deals are there for the taking without the need to haggle.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Although the Mercedes-AMG C63 S is slower against the clock than the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (QV), Audi RS4 Avant and BMW M3, it’s big on theatrics, and that arguably makes it a lot of fun for everyday use.
Start the big V8 petrol engine and it thunders away like an old American muscle car, even more so when you switch on the standard sports exhaust. It sounds heroic when it’s simply dawdling along in traffic (or even just navigating a multi-storey car park), and the noise is especially enjoyable in the convertible with the roof down.
Mash the accelerator, though, and you’ll discover that there’s more to the C63 S than just noise – it’s a full-on performance machine. The coupé is the quickest version, trailed fractionally by the heavier saloon, estate and convertible, but you'd struggle to tell the difference in pace without using a stopwatch. For reference, the saloon achieved a 0-60mph of just 4.1sec on our private test track, though the Giulia QV beat that with a mere 3.7sec.
The nine-speed automatic gearbox is pretty good but not the best. It’s a tad jerky when you're trying to park and its shifts aren’t as punchy or responsive as those of the Giulia QV or BMW M3. And while it's smooth enough once you're up and running, in manual mode, the system imposes a delay before you can change up if you let the engine reach its soft rev limiter. This means you’ll need to learn to shift at the right point for the fastest and most polished drive.
Meanwhile, you can alter the feel of the C63 S’s suspension with a mode switch on the centre console. In the softest ‘Comfort’ mode, the ride is softer than an M3 in its equivalent setting but firmer than a Giulia QV. That means it has enough compliancy over sharp ridges and deep potholes but feels better tied down than the Alfa on an undulating country road.
That said, we reckon the best setting for making the most of country roads is the midway Sport or even the firmer Sport Plus+. This tightens up the suspension and limits body roll. And while we admit that the C63 S isn’t quite as grippy or as focused as a BMW M3, its lower limits combined with the V8’s linear and approachable power delivery gives you the confidence to throw the car around and steer it with the accelerator pedal. A clever 10-stage traction control system also allows you to fine-tune how much wheel-slip is allowed before the traction control cuts in – a big boon over the Giulia Quadrifoglio, in which the traction control is either on or off.
Meanwhile, the steering is a pleasure. It’s not overbearingly heavy around town but the load increases beautifully as you build speed through turns, with plenty of feedback through the steering wheel. That means you can feel confident about where you place the car on the road and that encourages you to push a little harder. It certainly hammers the RS4 once more, and provides finer detail and a more reassuring heft than the Giulia and M3’s lighter setups.
Whichever bodystyle you choose, the C63 S will eat up the miles when you need it to. Wind noise is pretty hushed at speed and, while you have to put up with a bit of road roar from the fat rear tyres, it’s not overbearing. Mind you, it's fair to say that overall refinement is one area in which the RS4 Avant and Giulia QV have the C63 S beaten.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The Mercedes-AMG C63 S comes with an electrically adjustable steering column and racy semi-bucket front seats with integrated head restraints, which are also fully electric, so nobody should have an issue with finding a suitable posture. They're quite hard, though, so expect a little bit of back stiffness on long journeys.
The driving position isn’t the best in the class with the pedals, wheel and seat not lining up particularly well, an issue exacerbated by the grippy seats. You’ll also find that the transmission tunnel bulges sideways and impinges on space for your left leg, although these contortions don’t cause too much discomfort. Even so, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (QV), Audi RS4 Avant and BMW M3 are all better in this respect.
Forward visibility is fine, but it’s trickier to see out of the back of the coupé, convertible and, to a lesser extent, saloon because of their thick roof pillars. The estate, by comparison, is fine. Either way, fear not, because all-round parking sensors and a rear-view camera are standard, as is a 360deg camera on the coupe and convertible (it’s an option on other models). All models come with adaptive LED headlights that are not only bright but can also shape their light spread to remain on main beam without dazzling oncoming traffic.
All C63 S models get the C-Class’s top-spec COMAND Online infotainment system and sat-nav. This comes with a 10.3in screen, and rotary and touchpad controls. The graphics look great but the system can be tricky to use due to menus that aren’t always obvious. The combination of the rotary selector dial, touch-sensitive centre pad with sensors on the steering wheel, plus the touchscreen can become confusing – when you’re concentrating on the touchscreen it’s all too easy to interrupt your inputs by accidentally stroking the steering wheel pad. Ultimately, it’s less intuitive and slower to respond than the Audi and BMW systems.
The rest of the C63 S’s controls are well laid out and come with a configurable 12.3in digital driver’s display as standard in place of conventional analogue dials. This allows you to alter the display style and show maps, media and various other information in the instrument cluster where they’re easy to see. You can even select a simplified layout with a big rev counter and gear shift lights – although this is a little redundant in the coupé because you get a head-up display as standard that places key information in your line of sight.
There’s a real flamboyance to the C63 S's interior and a plush mix of soft Nappa leather, brushed metal and gloss-black plastic surfaces. Optional upgrades range from a carbon fibre or wood finish centre console with analogue clock, right through to coloured seatbelts. It has a much more premium finish than the Giulia QV but in places doesn’t match the solid build of the BMW M3 or Audi RS4 Avant.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Both the coupé and convertible Mercedes-AMG C63 S can only seat two people in the back. Taller adults will be fine on a short trip in the coupé, but will quickly become aware of the limited head room – the BMW M4 is much better in this regard. The convertible is tighter still, due to its very upright rear seatbacks.
Unsurprisingly, boot space is the most limited in the coupé and convertible but much better in the saloon, which can take up to seven carry-on cases. The RS4 Avant has a bigger boot than the C63 S Estate, but then the latter is one of the most enjoyable load-luggers on the market to drive. Usefully, the back seats fold 40/20/40 in every five-seat version of the C63 S and don’t leave an awkward step in the extended load bay.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Clearly, with a 4.0-litre petrol V8 and two turbochargers, there are cheaper cars to run than tha Mercedes-AMG C63 S. Yet for the performance it offers, it has reasonable emissions and fuel consumption. On our mixed test route, a C63 S saloon returned a respectable 25.5mpg – better than the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV’s figure of 23.7mpg and just fractionally behind the BMW M4’s figure of 26.6mpg.
Compared to the Alfa and Audi RS4 Avant, the C63 S saloon looks a little expensive, but bear in mind that it undercuts the BMW M3 Competition and, like the M3, is the most potent version in its model range; although it is worth noting that the coupé attracts a hefty premium because it’s only available in range-topping Night Edition trim.
You’ll also need deep pockets to run a C63 as a company car because its hefty CO2 emissions place it in the top 37% band, so benefit-in-kind payments (BIK) will be substantial.
The saving grace is that all equipment levels are generous whichever C63 S you choose. All come with special AMG styling front and rear, 19in alloy wheels, that soft Nappa leather, heated front seats, cruise control and all the other aforementioned niceties. The convertible also gets an electrically operated wind deflector and a device to blow hot air onto your neck to keep you warm when you’ve got the roof down in cooler weather.
All C63 Ss have automatic emergency braking (AEB) to help in situations where quick thinking is needed. In addition, there’s a tyre pressure monitoring device to alert you early if you have a slow puncture and a system that can detect when you’re getting drowsy on a long journey. Opt for the Driving Assistance (standard on Night Edition trim) package and you also get adaptive cruise control, blindspot monitoring, active lane-keeping assistance and technology to adjust the car’s speed in advance of bends, roundabouts and junctions.
This all helped the standard C-Class score impressive marks in its Euro NCAP safety tests in 2014 ( the C63 S wasn't tested as a separate model). It was awarded the maximum five-star overall rating, although the result was under older, less stringent rules that make it impossible to directly compare it to newer rivals.
Mercedes didn’t do very well in the What Car? Reliability Survey, finishing 26th out of 31 manufacturers. The C-Class fared similarly poorly, ending up near the bottom of the executive car class. Audi, BMW and Alfa Romeo all proved more reliable.
An alarm and engine immobiliser are standard on all versions of the C63 S, while security experts Thatcham Research awarded the car five out of five for resisting theft and four out of five for resisting being broken into.
|RRP price range||£88,335 - £92,230|
|Number of trims (see all)||1|
|Number of engines (see all)||1|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||25.7 - 25.7|
|Available doors options||2|
|Warranty||3 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£2,865 / £6,657|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£5,731 / £13,313|