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Review

First Drive: Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series car review

07/09/12

PUTTING the ‘hot’ into hot hatch is the C63 AMG Coupe, a three-door version of Mercedes’ popular C-Class saloon. In it’s own right it’s a potent machine and, best of all, drive goes to the rear wheels unlike mainstream GTi-badged cars, which is handy when you’ve got a 457 horsepower, 6.2-litre V8 under the bonnet.

But why stop at 457 horsepower when, as a car maker, you also sell the SLS AMG? This is significant because it uses the same V8 engine, only AMG tweaks the output further to 517 horsepower. There are hot hatches and then there’s the C63 AMG Coupe Black Series.

Adding the ‘Black Series’ moniker to an AMG car has, historically, singled it out for special treatment. It’s been done before, with past versions of the CLK and SL gaining a heap more power, a bodykit and sizeable rear wing into the bargain. And for all Mercedes’ buttoned-up premium persona, Black Series cars have readily demonstrated the firm’s hooligan side.

The good news: the C63 Coupe continues this fine tradition of delivering laugh-out-loud ballistic performance. But seriously, what do you expect from a car boasting Touring Car-like wide track, muscular wheel arches and an exhaust note with the potential to split solid rock at 50 paces? And the bad news? There is no bad news.

This dark-edged C63 Coupe presents a more muscular face to the world, what with its wide track, plethora of air intakes and beefy wheel and tyre combo. A C63 that’s been gorging on spinach Popeye-style, this isn’t a car for shrinking violets. And the extrovert theme continues inside, with competition-inspired bucket seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and an absence of rear seats – the usual sign that a company is serious about performance.

Realistically you won’t be able to tear around the countryside flat out in this car, which makes the driving and ownership experience as much about the aural and visual thrills as the C63’s outright speed. Still, if you’re brave enough to point it towards a track the numbers are deeply impressive. With considerable help from an engine greatly influenced by the SLS, this C63 Coupe will hit 62mph from rest in 4.2 seconds and bully its way to an electronically limited 186mph. Taking it easy results in an agreeable 23.2mpg and, despite the monster power on offer, the car’s CO2 rating is a supercar sensible 286g/km.

Predictably a car like the C63 is all about the driving experience, and this C-Class Coupe on steroids doesn’t disappoint. You could never class an AMG car as a quiet, reserved option, and this particular example couldn’t be further from the clichéd ‘velvet punch’ description if it tried.

Bold, brash and loud on start up, its hard-edged and deep-throated exhaust roar accompanies you everywhere. The compact steering wheel delivers a direct, accurate experience that’s full of feedback, while the seven-speed auto gearbox is surprisingly quick despite not being a DSG unit. The comfort-sport switchable system works well, resulting in some very aggressive shift behaviour for when you’re really pressing on, plus the chunky paddles allow for full manual control if you want the complete DIY experience. An AMG mode allows you to further personalise the gearbox modes and traction control to your liking.

Tested in ‘Track Pack’ guise complete with aero kit, trick tyres and an oversize rear wing the C63 successfully pulls off the road legal DTM racer look. You’re only ever likely to feel the benefit on track, but it’s easily worth the (just) six-figure price tag even for the road as the C63 crackles, pops and barks its way into your heart as it chews up and spits out the road ahead of it. Despite the obvious track focus, AMG’s engineers have endowed the car with a ride that’s sophisticated enough to cope with major road imperfections yet ensure pitch and roll have been kept to a minimum.

And it really is a case of any gear, anywhere, anytime when it comes to making progress. Packing the trick bits from the SLS, the C63’s engine delivers epic levels of acceleration thanks to its huge reserves of power and torque. That said, this isn’t a car that’ll hold your hand through the corners. There’s plenty of grip when you need it, but drive the C63 like an ape and it will bite. Fortunately the stability systems help rather than hinder, but turn them off and you’ll need to be quick. Still, AMG cars have always been hooligan machines and all this Black Series Coupe does is kick it up a notch or three.

By definition, Black Series cars are rare beasts thanks to their short production runs, which makes the experience that bit more special when you get the chance to grab the wheel. The SLS might be Mercedes’ glamorous halo model, but this C63 is the real deal when it comes to delivering more accessible thrills on our crowed roads. Visually, aurally and physically entertaining, it’s a hot hatch like no other.

FACTS AT A GLANCE Model: Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series, from £98,765 on the road.

Engine: 6.2-litre V8 petrol unit developing 517bhp.

Transmission: 7-speed automatic transmission as standard, driving the rear wheels.

Performance: Maximum speed 186mph, 0-62mph 4.2 seconds.

Economy: 23.2mpg.

CO2 Rating: 286g/km.

  • Enginespetrol
  • Power5 (high performance)
  • 0-60 mph
  • Economy3 (average fuel economy)
  • CO2g/km
  • Insurance groups3 (average costs)
  • Airbags
  • Seats2

Motors.co.uk value verdict:    stars

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