Mercedes has made no bones about what car it hopes to steal some thunder from with its all-new C-Class Coupe: the BMW 3 Series two-door. The story is roughly the same with its new AMG-ified version, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe. The target is still a BMW 3 coupe, but instead it's the one with the M badge on the back.
A few years ago this wouldn't have needed mentioning, but in the era of "four-door coupes" such as Mercedes' own CLS, the Volkswagen CC, and Audi A7, the difference between C63 Sedan and the new coupe is the lack of rear doors. (The C-Class Coupe lineup as a whole is the first two-door for the C lineup since the departure of the unloved C-Class hatchback in 2007.) Mercedes hasn't given any specifics, but we imagine the coupe will be the stiffest of the C family. We also expect the two-door to be the lighter of the two, but digging through Mercedes technical data shows that may not be the case. We're waiting to hear back on specifics from the automaker.
Inside, the C63 Coupe gets the same new dash, steering wheel, and seats as the sedan version. The new dash uses a more horizontal design stretching across the car and integrates the navigation screen for a more cohesive appearance. The center panels of the new seats are covered in a synthetic suede-like material Mercedes refers to as DINAMICA. The bolsters are covered in M-B Tex for easier entry and exit, plus better wear resistance. The steering wheel is taken straight from the CLS63 and features flat sections on both the top and bottom. The only real difference between coupe and sedan are the rear seats. The coupe is a dedicated four-seater using two separate backseats with a center console running between them. The seating position feels lower than the sedan and the individual seats will do a better job of supporting passengers during high-G exploits. There is definitely enough space for adults in the rear, but preferably for shorter trips around town.
On the outside the C63 Coupe copies the sedan from the A-pillar forward. The roofline is more raked, with roughly an inch-and-a-half lower profile. The C-pillar is thinner and the rear quarter windows feature a quick upturn at the rear similar to BMW's Hofmeister Kink. The new racy profile features a panorama roof that stretches back over the rear seats. Large pieces of motorized glass open up the rear space and may explain the weight difference between coupe and sedan. The roof represents and interesting contrast between the C63 and its closest rival, the BMW M3. BMW has chosen to go the performance route with a lightweight carbon-fiber panel, while Mercedes has clearly chosen luxury. This one feature may best sum up the differences between the two rivals.
Although the front and rear fascias are quite different for the 2012 model year, the average person may not realize they were redesigned on both C63 models. The front valance is now more aggressive, with a black front splitter at the bottom edge. To the sides of the splitter are inlet ducts capped with LED driving lights, while around the sides are air outlets similar to the outgoing model. The oversized Mercedes star floats in the grille on a single wing-shaped bar and adds an even more aggressive look than the standard C-Class Sport's two-bar grille. Above that, the new aluminum hood features redesigned AMG Power Bulges. The previous bulges ran straight front to back, but these take a decided angular turn towards the outside of the car three-quarters of the way back.
At the rear, Mercedes has kept the dual twin exhaust tips exiting each side of the rear valance. Between the exhaust tips is a larger, flat-black diffuser with three longitudinal fins. Both front and rear fenders are flared compared to the standard C-Class and the fronts are even wider than the previous version.
Mechanically, the AMG Coupe and Sedan are identical, powered by Mercedes' 451-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8. While these seem like realistic power figures for its class, the big difference between this and other German premium V-8s is the 443 pound-feet of torque. That's roughly 150 pound-feet more than BMW's V-8 M3, and 118 more than Audi's supercharged S4. For those needing yet more power at the top end, AMG is going to carry over the 30-horsepower Development Package. The kit consists of a lighter, forged crankshaft connecting the rods and pistons, helping to decrease engine inertia. Along with the extra power, two-piece front brake rotors are added and the top speed governor is moved from 155 mph to 174 mph. The package's only visual tip-offs are red brake calipers and an intake manifold painted in titanium silver.
The big change for 2012 is the AMG Speedshift Plus seven-speed MCT transmission. The race-quick gearbox uses a multi-plate wet clutch instead of a torque convertor to ensure as much torque as possible makes it to the pavement. It improves fuel economy through more efficient operation and also features a conservation mode with start/stop function. When not saving the planet, drivers can choose from Sport, Sport+, and full Manual mode. Stoplight grand prix racers will appreciate the Manual mode's AMG Race Start with launch control. While somewhat tedious to engage, the Race Start assures the fastest start possible with wheel spin. That's not an easy task with the mountain of torque available.
Suspension tuning is specific to the coupe but dynamically very similar to the sedan. The AMG models use a multi-link setup in front instead of a single lower control arm with a MacPherson strut like other C-Class models. The lighter and more aggressive suspension has been designed to provide better driver communication as well as greater amounts of static negative camber and more kinematic camber gain. The rear is a reinforced version of the regular C-Class' multi-link suspension with a wider track and again more negative camber. For 2012, the AMG Sedan version receives a larger rear anti-roll bar that will also be used on the coupe. Not surprisingly, tire and wheel fitments stay the same.
The U.S. Release of the C63 AMG Coupe is scheduled for September of 2011. Pricing hasn't been released yet on any of the C-Class models, AMG or otherwise. The 2011 C63 AMG Sedan rings in at a base price of $58,200 without destination or gas-guzzler tax. For comparison sake, the BMW M3 bases at $55,900 for the sedan and $58,900 for the coupe. As with BMW, we'd expect the C63 Coupe to ring in at a couple grand more than the sedan, which itself should start slightly north of the previous-generation model.
Part of the attraction to previous C63s was the sleeper aspect of a giant overpowered luxury sedan. The Coupe will likely be as large of a success offering the same mix of performance and luxury in a less conservative wrapper. Hopefully the next logical step will be AMG importing the Estate version. The rear tailgate and flexible cargo-carrying options could spawn a two-volume press release. It might even require a few diagrams.