Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
* Most powerful C-Class yet * 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds * Price from 55,565...
What is it? The fastest C-Class to date, the C63 AMG is a monster of a Mercedes. The 451bhp 6.2-litre V8 is guaranteed to quicken your pulse, and Mercedes claims to have fixed the old model's harsh ride.
What's it like to drive? Turn the key and you'll wonder what all the fuss is about - there's a V8 gurgle, but no high drama. On urban roads the C63 is docile and civilised. The ride is firm, but not uncomfortable, and the steering is light and accurate. However, you're wasting your time in town - you need to point the AMG down an open road to understand its abilities.
Select S mode and the throttle response sharpens and the new seven-speed automatic gearbox holds a lower gear for better acceleration. The exhaust note also sounds meatier.
If you're feeling bold, S+ mode hones the car even further and forces the gearbox to shift up only at the engine's redline. There's also M mode, giving full control of gearshifts via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
There's a huge amount of grip through fast bends and, as you'd expect, the brakes are mighty. In S and S+ modes the car automatically blips the throttle as it downshifts gears, helping maintain stability under heavy breaking.
Despite its scorching pace, the car remains reasonably composed. The ride is never crashy, although bumpy roads can cause it to squirm, and the informative steering allows you to place the car perfectly. Pity the car feels a little sterile it could do with being more involving.
The C63 will go from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, but there's an optional AMG performance upgrade, hiking power to 480bhp and dropping the 0-62mph sprint to 4.4 seconds, and adding a limited-slip differential and various carbonfibre accessories.
What's it like inside? If you don't look too carefully, the C63's cabin looks like most other C-Class's. The heavily-bolstered leather sports seats and AMG branded trim give the game away, but there's room for four adults to sit in comfort five at a squeeze - and a decent boot.
As you'd expect, goodies such as sat-nav, climate control and a high-end stereo are included.
The cars exterior is also subdued, although there's a hint of the thug thanks to the distinctive wheels, bodykit and detailing.
Should I buy one? With great power comes a great price, and at 55,565 the C63 AMG isn't cheap. However, it's priced midway between chief rivals, the BMW M3 and the Lexus IS F. It's also more powerful, so it will be faster in a straight line, although an M3 will be more involving on a twisty road.
Average fuel economy is 23.5mpg, roughly 10% better than the old car's, but with CO2 emissions of 280g/km company car drivers will pay 35% tax.
It's available to order now, with deliveries due in October.
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