The original 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG will forever occupy a space in the automotive lineup. With 451 horsepower belonging to the 6.2-liter V8 under the hood, the C63 is a high-revving bahn-stormer. And for US consumers, it follows the all-too-familiar hot-rodding formula – Mercedes’ biggest displacement engine crammed into its smallest car.
Since the first C63, the compact AMG flagship has undergone several changes. The naturally aspirated V8 left for the 2016 model year, replaced by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter unit that still produces more power and torque despite its lower displacement. Consumers don’t care, and they lick every C63 they can find. Here’s what buyers hope will be just as forgiving of the Mercedes-AMG C63 SE Performance 2024, which went one step further in its pursuit of downsizing by cutting the cylinder in half – that’s right, this one has a 2.0-liter inline-four.
Do not be afraid. To compensate for displacement, AMG engineers gave the meanest C-Class a turbocharger with instantaneous electric spooling, as well as a rear-mounted electric motor and battery setup to add even more power. Now a plug-in hybrid, the 2024 C63 makes a staggering 671 horses and 752 pound-feet of torque. Not only are the numbers the best for a road-going C-Class, they’re also among the highest of any AMG product in history. V8 who?
The figurative heart and soul of the Mercedes-AMG C63 is the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, codenamed M139. Even without the aid of a hybrid drive system, the internal combustion engine produces 476 hp (350 kW), making it the most powerful four-power production engine on the planet. As in the underpowered C43 model, this engine features an electrically driven turbocharger that reduces lag to almost imperceptible levels. Derived from Formula 1 technology, the turbocharger features a small electric motor between the exhaust turbine and compressor wheel, which rotates the turbo upwards to create thrust as soon as the driver calls it.
But while 476 horses might have been enough a few years ago, today’s super sedan buyers are demanding more. That’s where the rear mounted electric motor comes in. Running on a 6.1 kilowatt-hour battery and 400 volt electrical architecture, the motor pushes 204 hp (150 kW) onto the road – either alone or in tandem with the gasoline engine. In the former case, the C63 would have been able to cover about 8 miles on an all-electric drive, but as AMG Chief Technical Officer Jochen Hermann put it, the electrification strategy isn’t really focused on efficiency. Instead, this car is made to go fast.
With all cylinders on and a peak of 150 kW of electrons pouring out of the battery, the C63 produces the aforementioned 671 hp and 752 lb-ft, helping it reach 60 miles per hour in the manufacturer’s claimed 3.3 seconds. That’s about half a second faster than the outgoing C63, with a top speed that nearly matches its predecessor at 174 mph with the optional AMG Driver package – the old C63 S could hit 180 mph, but who’s counting? More important than the final figure is the legendary AMG sound profile, and while the new C63 likely won’t outperform its predecessor, it’s still quite emotional.
That’s because it features a number of audio tuning tricks, including sensors in the exhaust that detect noise pressure, then amplify it through the stereo speakers for a more engaging soundtrack. Mercedes is quick to note that the sound that enters the cabin is not synthesized or altered, only amplified, so the car will still sound like a turbocharged four-banger. If that sounds like a bat-out-of-hell CLA 45, the C63 will still be pretty interesting to play.
Part and parcel of the acceleration experience is the now known nine-speed multi-clutch transmission. Different from the dual-clutch gearbox, the AMG Speedshift MCT uses a complex wet-clutch package instead of a torque converter, helping the C63 respond more quickly to throttle than a conventional automatic, but with better low-speed refinement than a dual-clutch gearbox. What’s more, this electric motor has its own two-speed gearbox, ensuring plenty of e-boost even when traveling at high speeds.
And for the first time in history, the hottest C-Class will offer all-wheel drive. The system called 4Matic+ features an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential, although the electric motor acts directly on the rear axle for near-instant response. What’s more, the clutch system allows the electric motor to rotate the drive shaft as well, which in turn rotates the front wheels. This means that even when operating in pure EV mode, the C63 always has four-wheel traction.
However, the C63 makes a bad impression before you turn it on. For starters, it has a wider front track, resulting in an overall width that’s up 3.0 inches over the standard C-Class. The front fenders have been perforated, with flared arches that are about 2 inches wider. The car is also 3.3 inches longer overall than the lower C43 and C300 models, and the wheelbase is up 0.4 inches. This incremental increase in size gives the C63 an imprinted and impressive stance, but the limited styling changes help it feel more muscular instead of brash and screaming.
The changes on the front are most obvious. The opening of the inverted trapezoid grille makes room for the signature Mercedes-AMG Panamericana grille and the accompanying vertical bars – a flashback to the 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racer and a hallmark of AMG products since 2016. But another vintage styling cue is the double dome. . the hood, although the 2024 C63 features exclusive rear hood vents between the twin ridges to help expel hot air in the engine compartment. Predictably, the C63 has the boldest front bumper treatment of any other C-Class, especially with the aggressive chin splitter in the optional aero package.
A set of gills on the wider front fender is the biggest clue on the C63’s side profile that you’re looking at something special. There are also deeper side sills, as well as standard 19-inch or optional 20-inch alloy wheels. At the rear, an aggressive rear diffuser and 63-spec trapezoidal exhaust tips are joined by a sculpted decklid spoiler. Otherwise, the AMG C-Class is subtly styled, with just the right balance of visual aggression. In contrast to the BMW M3, Mercedes’ entry into the compact super-sedan class is less boisterous, which some buyers will appreciate.
And speaking of rivals, Mercedes will be offering the C63 Estate against the long-roofed M3 Touring. Unfortunately, the US will once again be out of the game, leaving the highly valued Audi RS6 Avant as the only fast train available in our market. Memo for Mercedes-AMG (and BMW): If your friends in Ingolstadt can do it, so can you.
Inside, there are AMG-specific enhancements to the infotainment system, including a track speed control and a drive selector mounted on the steering wheel with dedicated buttons for the exhaust and suspension. The new optional AMG sports seats include a more aggressive bolster than the standard seats, as well as cuts in the back and bolsters for better ventilation and some additional weight savings. Unfortunately, the standard C-Class plastic door panels remain at AMG, but the automaker will offer a variety of upholstery colors and finishes, including leather, microfiber suede, and contrast stitching.
Long gone are the days when AMG would drop a big, muscular engine under the hood with few updates elsewhere – the Performance 2024 C63 SE has tons of hardware upgrades to help keep the torque-rich powertrain in check. For starters, the suspension features adaptive dampers and four-corner steel springs to help provide good, consistent handling without sacrificing much ride comfort. A variety of driving modes allow the person behind the wheel to customize suspension, throttle and brake response, steering and propulsion noise to their taste. Presets include Electric, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race, Battery Hold, and Slippery.
The rear axle steering system allows the rear wheels to go out of phase with the front wheels by 2.5 degrees at under 62 mph, giving the C63 a tighter turning radius and more responsive handling on curvy roads. Above that speed, the rear wheel rotates in phase with the front by up to 0.7 degrees, increasing straight-line stability.
The AMG composite braking system is standard, with fixed six-piston front calipers for better response and stronger clamping force. In addition to conventional friction brakes, the electric motor is also capable of rapidly recovering energy at speeds of up to 150 kW, with multiple levels of regeneration for the driver to choose from, from single-pedal drive to throttle-off coasting.
A robust braking package is not the only aid for AMG customers. Due to the pretty incredible 700 pound weight gain since its last iteration, the impressive C63 stopper is a must-have. Mercedes says that four-wheel steering and regenerative braking help offset the new C63’s estimated 4,600-pound curb weight, and we hope they’re right – the old V8 model felt responsive and light on its feet, and it would be a shame if that quality was lost.
Raise your hand
The Mercedes-AMG C63 SE Performance will go on sale in global markets early next year, likely as a 2023 model. However, Americans will have to wait until model year 2024 to get their hands on the four-cylinder AMG super sedan, with deliveries likely to start here in September or October. .
With market launch about a year away, we’ll also have to wait a while for pricing to be announced. The previous-generation Mercedes-AMG C63 sedan starts at $69,650, but the price goes up to $77,250 when opting for the high-performance C63 S variant. We can only assume that the US market 2024 C63 will cost more than that, given the long list of rather expensive plug-in hybrid technologies. Don’t be surprised to see a base price of $85,000 when AMG arrives in America.
However, it will likely be worth the rather high price. While the added weight of the E Performance system is a bit annoying, AMG engineers seem to have spent the time needed to make sure the 2024 C63 is as exciting to drive as its V8-powered predecessor. It should also serve as a nice foil to the $80,800 BMW M3 Competition xDrive sedan, which is roughly as fast as 60 mph even though it weighs a lot less. The vehicle’s relative simplicity does have its charms, but the Performance 2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 SE proves (at least on paper) that the streamlined, electrified future will be as exciting as the fuel-intensive present.