While we all bemoan the departure of glorious AMG 4.0 V8, we are left with the “blessing” of Euro 5 Legislation. Euro 5 will split opinions. But I feel comfortable in saying that most of us feel a deep sadness in our hearts knowing that the guttural V8 tunes are no more. Only a year into the W206 C-class’s release; Mercedes announced that the next C63 was coming back with a 2.0 out of its smaller A45 sibling. Now the AMG C63 S E-Performance as they call it has arrived, with an arsenal of weapons at its disposal. Where else can we start but with the powertrain.
The AMG C63 S E Performance now hosts the most powerful 4 cylinder in the world. At 350 KW it produces less power than the outgoing model. However, the introduction of hybrid-tech means that the final output is 500 KW. This is thanks to a 150 KW electric motor sending power to the rear. A 6.1 kWh lithium-ion battery that only gives 13 km of range, which isn’t much honestly. The torque figures are a bit eye opening, 1020 NM in total with 545 NM coming from the ICU.
There is however a caveat. The default power output will only be 70 KW from the battery with 150 KW for a 10-second overboost. There is a lot of electronic trickery going on with this generation. A new brake energy recuperation system with 4 levels to select from. The turbocharger is now an “electric gas turbocharger”. Whatever that is, it looks like this powertrain is going to be infinitely more complex than the ones before it. What I do know, is that power will be transferred using a 4MATIIC all-wheel drive system. Similar to the system found in the AMG E63 S.
The looks of the W206 C-class lend themselves quite well to the AMG treatment. It is an attractive little thing; I think this might be its best improvement over the W205. The C63 has good proportions front to rear and it’s adorned with the now common Pan-Americana grille. It has the muscular look down but it’s still suffering from Mercedes’s Russian doll effect. It looks like a scaled down E63. That is not entirely bad since the E doesn’t look distasteful. But it might take a couple of glances before you can distinguish between the two. Never mind the downsized engine because this still has the quad tail pipes in the back, which seems excessive. However, the Golf R can get away with quad pipes as well so we can let it be.
The inside of the C63 distinguishes itself by having embossed AMG emblems on the head rests and carpets, AMG sport seats, AMG steering wheel and some nappa leather finishes. It’s a beautiful space that benefits from a well thought out W206 C-class interior. They added some extra sportiness to the mix. For example the steering wheel has a switch for driving modes and metallic paddles. There are two massive screens that present information to the driver and passenger. One is for the driver and the other is on the center console. The driver’s screen is beautifully configurable and also changes according to the driving modes. In addition to standard media functions the center display will show the climate seat controls, hybrid system information, navigation and so on.
BMW’s M3 Comp xDrive is the C63 S E Performance’s eternal rival and with this generation the BMW undoubtedly has the more desirable engine & soundtrack. With that in mind, the C63 has the better spec sheet so it will be interesting to see if that translates to real world performance. With a claimed 0-100 km of 3.2 seconds the new C63 is set to be one of the quickest sedans down a drag strip. The M3 and its predecessors have managed to better when it comes to cornering, given that both rivals have turned up the ante with AWD systems this might shift the balance between them. Let’s not forget the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio still offers itself as a suitable alternative. Although it will be long in the tooth soon enough it still has plenty to offer in terms of performance and appeal.
Having a new AMG should be great news, but there is an outcry because of this new powertrain, downsizing the C63 neuters it compared to the old V8s. Don’t get me wrong. It is intriguing to see the lengths to which Mercedes engineers have gone to beat the Euro 5 Regulations. Although the regulations tell manufacturers how much their cars should emit, they don’t dictate what powers the vehicles. My biggest fear is that the soulful engine character of past C63s will be lost and forgotten with the new one.
Yes, it will be more efficient and post a faster “Ring” time, but it begins to sound more like a diluted engineer’s car more than an enjoyable driver’s car. In the past the W205 C63 spectacularly carried the madness & excitement over its predecessor. This C63 S E Performance has so much new tech so hopefully it will deliver a new and better respect to the C63 moniker. That’s the best we can hope for.