2013 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe: Sammy Hagar was right

 

New 2012 C63 AMG Coupe with MCT transmission Rocker Sammy Hagar might have been driving a clapped out rental sedan when he wrote the lyrics to his song, “I Can’t Drive 55,” but if there ever was a poster child for those words, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe would be it. With this kind of power and this level of handling, if you’re going to stay at 55 mph or below, get out and walk. There’s no way you’ll ever appreciate what the C63 AMG has to offer at that speed.

Even parked in the driveway, the C63 doesn’t look as if it can go slower than 100 mph. Visually, the AMG Coupe is an exercise in restraint. With everything this vehicle offers, it would be easy to slap on a bunch of body parts to fool customers into thinking it’s a race car. Lucky for us, the designers understood that customers in this segment want a vehicle that depicts understated power. All of the elements blend together well — power strakes on the hood, large air inlet in the lower fascia, pronounced wheel arches, quad exhaust  — and improve the C63’s already elegant shape the way a designer dress enhances any woman’s appeal. The 6.3 badge may be subtle, but what it represents is not. Pull up next to a BMW M3 or an Audi S5, and they’ll let you take the lead at the stoplight. They’re not looking for trouble.

New 2012 C63 AMG Coupe with MCT transmissionInside you see more of the same slant: pure sport mixed with a touch of elegance. Everything fits and feels right, and, more important, makes sense. The three-gauge instrument cluster provides important information without having to guess, and the TFT center color display provides more info if needed. We love how the steering wheel feels in our hands, and soft Alcantera suede patches (with the optional AMG Development Package) reward the palms of those who drive in the proper nine-and-three position. Controls for audio and phone are well placed and are intuitive for the driver. The shift paddles also are positioned correctly for those with a shorter reach.

A choice of trim materials ranges from piano black to aluminum to carbon fiber to wood. We are always partial to CF, especially when you’re talking AMG performance. The center console houses the optional 7.0-inch infotainment screen up high and knob to control the transmission modes below. The new mbrace2 system is still not the easiest to use in the industry, but it’s world’s better than the previous version.

Because it’s an AMG, it has the obligatory moniker stitched into the seats. Speaking of seats, the coupe features four buckets with standard M-B Tex material, which is a nice way to say fake leather. For a mere $2,600 extra, you can opt for the Nappa Leather Package, which gives you real “hide” plus a power tilt/telescoping steering column. The seats are supportive and comfortable, which is usually a trade-off in a sports coupe. The rear seats fold down, another unique coupe feature, but the trunk is so cavernous you may never need to flip down the second-row seatbacks. The C63 does such a good job making you feel as if you’re in a practical car with all the roominess and amenities that you almost forget you’re dealing with a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But like those sheep, don’t get fooled by the C63’s calm demeanor.

New 2012 C63 AMG Coupe with MCT transmissionLurking under this exterior are big fangs: a hand-built 6.3-liter AMG 32-valve V8. And it’s hungry, very hungry. With 451 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, it will devour anything and everything in its path, and do it so graciously you’ll thank it for eating your spleen. However, our C63 came with the optional $6,000 AMG Development Package, for those who can’t get enough. It comes with 30 horsepower more (481 total), lightweight forged pistons and connecting rods, and revised crankshaft management. What that means in layman’s terms is a 4.3-second 0-60-mph dash. Our favorite feature is when you start up the C63, the engine revs to give you a hint of the fun that awaits you.

ride select c63Mated to the beast is a seven-speed AMG SpeedShift MCT tranny. Using the knob in the console allows the driver to select Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Manual modes to achieve the desired launch performance. Comfort delivers soft acceleration and normal shift patterns, while the Sport settings provide faster gear changes and rev-matching modes. There’s also a Race Start selection for those who believe every on-ramp launch should match the takeoff of a Saturn V rocket. Like that rocket, fuel economy isn’t high on the list of priorities. That’s pretty much the same for the C63. The EPA lists a rating of 13 city and 19-highway mpg, and that rating adds $1,700 gas-guzzler tax to the bottom line. While we are all in favor of being fuel efficient, sometimes you just have to say “screw it.” The Benz C63 AMG Coupe is definitely one of those times. (Full disclaimer, the C250 Coupe upon which this vehicle is based gets an impressive 21/31-mpg rating.)