You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

The 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 Is a Sledgehammer That's Easier to Wield

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 1/17/2019 Kevin A. Wilson
a car driving on a road: We review the freshly updated 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63, which comes in coupe, sedan, and convertible forms.© Michael Simari - Car and Driver We review the freshly updated 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63, which comes in coupe, sedan, and convertible forms.

This review has been updated with test results.

Ugh. Mercedes should have left well enough alone, we thought to ourselves when we first heard about the updates made to the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 and C63 S coupe, cabriolet, and sedan. The list reads like something a technophile would stash under his or her mattress. It includes a larger standard infotainment screen, an available gigantic digital instrument cluster, nine-stage traction-control software, new AMG Dynamics chassis programs, one new driving mode, touch-capacitive nubs on the steering-wheel spokes, and little control nodules on the steering wheel that have their own miniature screens. It's not often that extra displays or lines of code make a car more appealing to drive, especially one with the raw emotional appeal of the steroidal and brutish C63. Sigh, right?

It turns out the new model is better than ever.

What's New Outside and Inside

In addition to the tech, which we'll detail further in a moment, the three U.S.-bound C63 models-there's also a rad wagon that's not sold here-get AMG's retro-handsome Panamericana grille, updated fascias, new exhaust finishers, and restyled LED lights. The car still squats with fat flares over fat rubber, ready to lay waste to a favorite piece of tarmac, but the refreshed exterior-and the grille in particular-imparts greater visual sophistication. Inside, the new displays feature the carmaker's typical clean, uncluttered, and high-res graphic execution, and they bring a state-of-the-art feel that's welcome rather than overwhelming.

You need the screens to take full advantage of the plethora of chassis modes, settings, and features anyway. A new rain-and-snow-optimized Slippery driving mode joins Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, and Race (S model only) on the roster of ways to alter the accelerator response, steering weight, adaptive damper firmness, transmission shift behavior, exhaust sound, and stability-control settings all at once. You can now activate these with a knob on the lower-right portion of the steering wheel, while a new pair of programmable toggles on the lower left can be used to fiddle with stuff like the individual exhaust, adaptive dampers, stability control, and transmission settings. (The knob and toggle buttons have LCD screens to display the current setting or function.) The center-console controls for these modes remain, but the new switches were added, Mercedes says, to enable easier selection of options on the fly during aggressive driving.

a car parked in a parking lot: 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 Sedan© Michael Simari - Car and Driver 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 Sedan

AMG Dynamics is new this year. It's a piece of software tied to the driving modes that uses steering, speed, and yaw sensors to predict what the car is likely to do and then helps the driver by working the stability control and brake-based torque vectoring. Mercedes says AMG Dynamics makes the C63 more stable in Slippery and Comfort modes, friskier in Sport, friskier still in Sport+, and extra agile with a slight tendency toward oversteer in Race. We came to think of AMG Dynamics as a sort of multistage version of Mazda's G-Vectoring Control, and the car does indeed feel slightly nimbler, steadier, and more eager to turn in. Also, you should know that the AMG Dynamics modes are called Basic, Advanced, Pro, and Master and that Mercedes promises "even experienced drivers receive optimum assistance without being patronized by the system." We didn't feel patronized, which means that it was probably working.

AMG Traction Control: Basically Magic

The single best new thing, however, is the nine-step AMG Traction Control. The C63 is the second AMG to get the technology after it made its debut on the GT R supercar two years ago. Its existence isn't obvious, but activating it is easy. Simply switch off the stability control with the center-console button or the steering-wheel toggle, at which point the chassis-mode knob's screen changes to display your setting number and a segmented green, yellow, and red dial. In a nutshell, the system controls how much torque is sent to the rear tires in order to deliver optimum grip-and to prevent time-sapping wheelspin or oversteer-when getting back on the throttle in a given corner.

We found the system to be highly effective in the GT R we ran at Lightning Lap 2017, where that car came very close to setting a new overall record, and our regard remains high after driving C63 coupes and sedans at the wicked and challenging Bilster Berg track in Bad Driburg, Germany, as well as back home on familiar roads and, of course, the test track. It's an intelligent tool for learning the car, your own limits, and/or a particular racetrack in a metered way. Having a safety net that can be progressively scaled back makes particular sense in a model that serves as an entry point into AMG's wild 'n' woolly lineup. It makes any fool feel like a hero as they exploit and slide the C63; the car is easy to move around and gather up as it is, but any tail-out action the system determines as going too far is dealt with quickly and imperceptibly. In short, you want AMG Traction Control. Which means you also want the C63 S model, since it's standard there and not available in the basic C63. Our only gripes are that 1) it's somewhat counterintuitive that the intervention is dialed down as you move up through the numbers, and 2) we don't have AMG Traction Control in everything we drive.

2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 Sedan© Michael Simari - Car and Driver 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 Sedan

Also cool: the new Track Pace option for the main screen that displays racetrack maps and records lap and sector times. It also can use the head-up display to show helpful items such as upcoming corners, braking points, and cornering-speed references. Several famous circuits are preloaded, but the system will also use GPS to learn new ones. AMG has made it about as simple as possible to get up to pace at the track.

Track-Test Results

Retuned adaptive dampers offer a wider range of adjustment across the driving modes. That said, while Comfort mode did feel a wee bit suppler, ride quality still falls on the granitic side. You're going to want to vote for that road-repair millage-or get a punch card from your back specialist-before handing a check over to the dealer. That check will be a bit more than last year's, with the sedan at $67,095, coupe starting at $68,495, and the cabriolet coming in at $74,495. Add $8000 or so for the more powerful S versions, which have not only the exclusive Race mode and AMG Traction Control but also many of the base model's options as standard.

The engine is one of the few major components that didn't get an overhaul. Good. The C63 packs a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 in 469-hp (base) and 503-hp (S model) strengths, and it's a potent, sweet-spinning thing that hits like a sledgehammer. The power delivery is immediate and mighty, and stomps on the gas pedal send the car hurtling forward like Mjölnir from the angry hand of Thor. When strapped with test gear, the C63 S sedan ran from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and dusted a quarter-mile in 11.9 seconds at 122 mph. And the sound is as intoxicating as ever-at least in this turbocharged generation-all thunder and fury in the exhaust's most aggressive setting.

a car parked in front of a building: 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 Sedan© Michael Simari - Car and Driver 2019 Mercedes-AMG C63 Sedan

As before, the V-8's fusillade is sent to the rear wheels via a Mercedes Speedshift automatic transmission. That means there's a multiplate clutch used in place of a torque converter, which gives it true launch-control ability, but it now has nine forward ratios instead of the previous seven. The additional ratios don't make much of a difference in driving, but the new 'box now can skip more ratios in one go rather than shuffling among gears. It's also said to shift even more quickly; the seven-speed shifted plenty quick before, and the new nine-speed shifts plenty quick now.

Our test sedan, wearing Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires sized 245/35R-19 in front and 265/35R-19 at the rear, stuck to the skidpad with 1.02 g of grip, stopped from 70 mph in a mere 157 feet, and generally performed like the track-day star it is. In routine driving duties, it's way understressed, and the primary telltale that you're riding around in a pretty extreme machine is that the ride can be flinty over rough pavement. If you have the patience to fiddle with all the adjustments available you can dial that out some, but the compact C-class chassis doesn't have enough wheelbase to ride like a limo even in its softest settings.

For all its might and muscle and added agility, and provided you have smooth roads, the C63 is still a good long-distance hauler. It's incredibly stable all the way up to triple-digit autobahn speeds, the optional Performance seats-which now offer ventilation-are supportive and comfortable, and the cockpit is luxurious enough that you can forget you're in such a potent and complicated machine. We were big fans of the outgoing version, but the new driver-focused tech makes the C63 and C63 S more approachable and even more capable. We're happy Mercedes and AMG didn't leave well enough alone.
 

Research the Mercedes-Benz C-Class on MSN Autos | Find a Mercedes-Benz C-Class near you

Research the latest luxury cars on MSN Autos | Follow MSN Autos on Facebook and Twitter

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Car and Driver

Car and Driver
Car and Driver
Loading...

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon