First Drive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe

Taken together, the stability control's lenient, tail-out sport mode; the transmission that thinks like a DTM driver; and the engine that has the muscle to rocket you down the straights, create in the C63 coupe a car that makes track driving deceptively easy. Any C63 AMG owner owes it to himself to get his car out onto a track at least once. It's an addictive experience.

Race Start's DNF
For all the C63's race-day goodness, its Race Start function earned a DNF. Engaging it requires a series of steps so convoluted that even the AMG guys had trouble getting it to work. First, you need to call up the stability control's sport mode; then you select Race Start with the transmission mode knob. If you're lucky, the dashboard message center will tell you to confirm the selection by hitting the upshift paddle. Instead, we kept getting the message Race Start Not Available - See Owner's Manual. There can be many reasons for this: your foot is not on the brake, a window is open, the steering wheel is not pointed exactly straight ahead, the stars are not in proper alignment.

If you do manage to get the elusive program to engage, you have only a brief moment to actually execute the start or you get the Race Start Cancelled message, and you get to begin again. When we finally got it to work, it proved rather unspectacular, so we instead switched off the ESP entirely and did a nice smoky burnout.

The AMG look, inside and out
The coupe isn't any smaller than the sedan, nor is it any lighter-its 3816-pound curb weight is about 160 pounds heavier than the 2011 version of the four-door C63. Some of the extra pounds stem from the two-door's standard panoramic glass sunroof. The glass top helps brighten the interior, but this is still a more intimate driving environment than you get in the four-door, due mostly to the lower roofline and more close-coupled front and rear seats. The driver of an AMG coupe is well positioned behind a thick steering wheel whose sculpted rim is flattened at both the top and the bottom. High-backed sport seats do a good job holding you in place without being too confining. The standard upholstery is cloth and MB tex; leather (in a single color or several two-tone combinations) costs extra. Compared to the standard C-class, the C63 also features more richly upholstered door panels as well as aluminum and gloss black trim.

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