Engine: 4.0L twin-turbo V8
Output: 503 hp, 516 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 7-speed auto
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 17 city, 23 hwy
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 13.4 city, 9.6 hwy
US Price: Starts at $75,000
CAN Price: Starts at $85,800
I’m a fan of fancy things, but I also have a soft spot for muscle cars, which are the very antithesis of elegance.
Given the choice, I’d much rather drive a Shelby GT350 or Dodge Challenger SRT than a Porsche 911 or BMW M4. Muscle cars traditionally cram as much attitude and power into something a regular person can afford, and that’s precisely why I love them and why they have been so popular for the past half-century. But what happens when someone outgrows their muscle car and is now able to afford something with a bit more class, yet doesn’t want to sacrifice any savagery?
Meet the 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe, which is what I’d argue is the fanciest muscle car I’ve ever driven. Although the C63 S Coupe wasn’t born in the Land of the Free, it follows the same formula that the American muscle car established back in the day: Thunderous V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, two doors, four seats, and an IDGAF attitude. The only thing missing is a manual transmission.
You can get the C63 Coupe in non-S trim, but the S is the one you want: It has more power. Easy decision.
As with all muscle cars, the C63 S Coupe’s magic starts with the engine: A handcrafted 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 pushing a very excessive 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission. The first time you mash the pedal and hear the roar of the V8, you’re immediately addicted. The coupe surges ahead with so much authority, roaring so loudly it borders on being vulgar, and it does so incredibly smoothly, firing off shifts you can barely feel. You’re hitting terribly illegal speeds in less time than it takes you to apologize to the cops (zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds; zero to 100 km/h in 4 seconds, to be exact).
The biggest difference in how the C63 feels over a traditional V8 muscle car are the seemingly instant-spooling turbos, which give the coupe more urgency at the lower end of the rev range. Peak torque comes online at a low 1,750 rpm and it keeps coming on strong for a while. I definitely wasn’t brave enough to keep pushing it to see when the thrust would drop off.
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This should tell you how good the V8 sounds: Waiting at a stop light, a Maserati Gran Turismo pulled up behind me, and its menacing idle immediately got my interest. Maserati’s V8 makes some of the sweetest sounds in the automotive world, so I thought it would be fun to be “one of those people” and challenge it to a screaming match in broad daylight. Since I drove the C63 exclusively with the sport exhaust engaged, I fired off a few full-blown revs, not knowing how the angry Italian behind me would react to my German display of aggression.
With each press of the loud pedal, I swear that people’s drinks in nearby cafes would rumble, just like that scene in Jurassic Park when the T-Rex is stomping its way through the jungle. I saw in my rear-view that the person driving the Maserati made a “not bad” face. The Maserati then matched my howls with some screaming, cracks and pops of its own, annoying everyone around us, but assuring me that the C63 was up to the task of sounding as good as something that costs much more money. The Maserati and the AMG parted ways soon after, but not before giving each other a thumbs up, bonding for a moment over our shared hooliganry.
Precision and Savagery
But where muscle cars have a bad reputation for being a bit blunt, the C63 S Coupe counters that with something I like to call precise savagery, which seems oxymoronic. Considering this car’s attitude, you’d expect it to be a handful to drive, yet it never does anything you didn’t want it to and it never feels like it’s going to kill you — although you’d be wise to tread carefully. Although it does feel heavier than it needs to, especially up front, the precise, well-weighted steering, grippy tires, stiff suspension, and super sharp brakes make driving the car quickly fun without being scary. It acts like a savage, but in reality can be really tame with zero hints of being boring.
And that carries over to the interior as well. Beautifully crafted, the interior reflects the C63 S Coupe’s higher price point. The steering wheel is especially luxurious, lined in suede where you need it the most and trimmed in metal that’s cool to the touch.
The only big downside I can see for this car is its price. As tested, it creeps dangerously close to being a six-figure car, and although it is an AMG, it’s still a C-Class, which doesn’t have the same cachet as, say, an E-Class. The base price of $75,000 ($85,800 in Canada), however, is slightly more palatable. It does look and feel expensive, however, and carries itself like a baby S-Class, so I’d argue that price tag isn’t that crazy. All the good cosmetic features and technology are optional, but remember, your money is going towards a stellar hand-built engine that’s even signed by the person who crafted it — this is a ferocious, precise instrument of all your greatest automotive desires, so everything on top of that is gravy. The discreet design is the right mix of sophisticated and aggressive, but it isn’t a head-turner and someone who wants more flash has plenty of options for the amount of money the C63 is asking for.
Another possible drawback is the infotainment system, which is controlled by a touchpad and rotary knob. I never like these systems and would much rather prefer a touchscreen, which is much more user-friendly. This system is overly complicated and annoying to use.
Some people also might not love how stiff the suspension is: While great for tackling apexes, it might be a bit too harsh for most people’s daily commutes, even in its most comfortable setting. I grew to despise rough roads, and every pothole, streetcar track, or piece of broken pavement was met with a sharp bang from the car and a cringe from me.
The Verdict: 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe Review
Do I like this car? Absolutely. Would I buy this car? Perhaps if I wanted a fancy V8 and the Jaguar F-Type was out of the question for having only two seats. I get equal thrills from driving a Shelby GT350, and though a Ford badge isn’t as impressive a shiny Benz emblem, I still got more looks and attention from driving the Mustang. Still, the beautiful interior, driving dynamics, savage sound, and hand-built engine in the C63 S Coupe make this an impressive car.
In the end, if you want a sophisticated, luxurious car with a mega-powerful V8 with a muscle car attitude and don’t mind flying under the radar, the Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe gets so much right. It’s beautiful, fast, swanky and, best of all, it feels like a high-end muscle car, which is definitely a good thing.