2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe

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This C63 AMG coupe seems like a total bargain compared with the CLS63 AMG four-door test car that we also recently drove here at Automobile Magazine. That car was larded up with $34K in options, making it sticker for a breathtaking $130K. This C63 is, arguably, a more entertaining proposition, even though it has 69 fewer hp and 147 fewer lb-ft of torque than the twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 CLS63 with the AMG performance package. That's because the C63 sticks with the normally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8, which is a grunty, characterful beast. In an age when more and more engines are getting turbocharged and supercharged, the 6.2-liter V-8 is all the more cool because it relies on old-fashioned displacement and relatively high revs, among other things, to deliver the goods. Go light on the options, and you could have a pretty well-equipped C63 for about $70K. Even if you pile on all the available equipment and end up with an $80K car like our tester, the C63 AMG coupe makes for an interesting alternative to a Porsche 911 Carrera or Carrera S.

I know I drove the C63 AMG on one of my favorite roads just as hard and as fast as I would have driven a Porsche 911....not that I have yet driven the new 991-series 911. Good Lord, this car sounds good; not just the V-8, but the burbly, snap-crackle-pop exhaust, too. I had a very spirited run in the C63 last night, and when I pulled into my driveway and got out of the car, it was emanating heat from the brakes and the engine. After a benign 300-mile freeway drive earlier in the day, I was happy to give the Benz a good workout.

This morning, a 25-year-old Romanian guy named Val, who immigrated to the USA when he was eleven years old, returned to the DeMatio household in his Toyota Tundra pickup to continue working on some stonework repairs on our chimney. He's a huge car geek, and the highlight of his arrival each morning over the past week has been to see what test car I'm driving. Lucky for him, I've had a very good week. First there was a Chevy Corvette Z06 100th anniversary edition, then there was a BMW 740i, and then there was a BMW 135i. (One day, there was a Mitsubishi Outlander, and I felt obliged to apologize to him that I didn't have something more exciting for him to see.) Today, he got to see the C63 AMG. He wasted no time checking it out as soon as he got out of his Tundra.

"It's got the big V-8," I told him.

"Oh, yeah, the six-point-three liter, right?"

"No, actually, it's a six-point-two," I explained. "Mercedes likes to use the 6.3 badge because it references the famous 6.3 cars from their history."

I popped the hood and showed him how the big V-8 is jammed into the relatively small space. Naturally, I had to start the car for him, and he squatted near the rear of the car and videotaped the exhaust note on his cell phone. He wondered if the seats have the active bolsters that he's heard about on other Mercedes-Benzes, but I explained that they didn't because they are so highly bolstered to begin with. Peering inside the cabin, he nodded appreciatively at the carbon-fiber trim and the suede-covered, flat-bottomed steering wheel.

To repeat, the C63 AMG coupe, at a starting price of $62,305, and the C63 AMG sedan, starting at only $59,805, are relative bargains in the high-performance luxury arena and are by far the cheapest way to drive an AMG car; the next most expensive AMG model is the E63 AMG sedan at $89,775.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

The last time I was in a C63 AMG was at the Road America racetrack last summer, when I enjoyed a few very hot laps of the track courtesy of bona fide car guy Colin Comer. That experience reminded me of how much I love the C63. Many of my colleagues love it, too, proven by our selection of the sedan as an Automobile Magazine All-Star in 2009.

Quite frankly, I'm surprised it took Mercedes-Benz this long to produce a coupe version of the C63 and the C-class on which it's based. After all, even the C63 sedan is a perfect track machine, and the two-door layout makes it look that much more perfect (not to mention the fact that the C63 AMG's archenemy, the BMW M3, is available in as both a coupe and sedan -- and convertible, for that matter).

I adore this car's burbly exhaust note; its firm, direct steering; its excellent body control; its supportive seats; its badass carbon-fiber spoiler; and its hyperdrive-like acceleration. The giant dual-pane sunroof helps make the cabin feel larger, and the back seats are acceptable for adults on short trips.

Oh, I absolutely love that suede steering wheel, too. It makes me want to build my own racetrack and lap endlessly.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

As Joe pointed out, the C63 is by far the least expensive way to get into an AMG. In my opinion, it is also one of the best AMG vehicles Mercedes-Benz makes. It can seat four adults but still has a relatively tidy footprint and, more importantly, unlike its larger AMG siblings, it uses a naturally aspirated V-8 that provides instant, no-lag power and produces a riotous symphony that no turbocharged V-8 can match. Glorious!

The addition of a coupe body style to the C-class lineup was a no-brainer and keeps the model competitive with the offerings from BMW and Cadillac. It's certainly not practical for those who often carry more than one passenger but rear seat space is decent and the standard panoramic sunroof helps alleviate some of the claustrophobia that's virtually inevitable in a coupe's back seat. The Alcantara steering wheel -- part of the $6050 AMG Development package that also includes numerous performance-oriented mechanical upgrades -- feels sumptuous and makes gripping the fat, flat-bottomed steering wheel that much more of a tactile experience. In fact, the C63 AMG is as stimulating a vehicle as I've had the opportunity to drive in recent memory. If you're reading this Santa, I'll take mine in Obsidian black, with the carbon fiber trim package.

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms

The C63 is the complete package. Its powertrain, consisting of a 6.2-liter normally aspirated V-8 mated to a seven-speed automatic provides awesome power and makes a great noise. It has a well-balanced chassis, precise steering, seriously strong brakes, and a lovely interior with perfectly bolstered seats that manage to be supportive and comfortable at the same time. On top of that, this C63 has the AMG Development package, which adds 30 hp and raises top speed to 174 mph. What's not to like?

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

Though the 2012 C63 AMG is one of the few Mercedes-Benz AMG models to retain the vaunted 6.2-liter V-8, the car does receive one powertrain revision that I'm absolutely smitten with: the SpeedShift MCT transmission. Mechanically, this is almost identical to the previous 7-speed automatic transmission, but uses a new wet clutch pack in place of the traditional torque converter.

Sound like a minor change? Perhaps, but you'll notice a difference, especially if you enjoy controlling your own gearshifts. Manual shift controls were provided on previous C63 iterations, but there was a noticeable delay between when a shift was ordered and when was delivered. That's no longer the case: gear changes are delivered almost immediately, albeit often in a brutal, spine-snapping fashion that matches the personality of the car itself.

These modest powertrain revisions, along with the advent of the C63 Coupe body style, seem to suggest Mercedes-Benz is seriously looking to flesh out its C-Class AMG portfolio to counter the likes of the M3 and Cadillac CTS-V. Considering the car was already an incredibly powerful - and quite enjoyable -- from its inception, I'm happy to see that AMG is content on tweaking - not reinventing - one of my favorite German dishes.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

There are plenty of indicators of how good the wealthy have it these days. I'd point to the proliferation of high-performance luxury coupes. In addition to the standbys like the BMW M3 and Porsche 911, there's the Audi S5, Cadillac CTS-V, and the aging but still fantastic Jaguar XK. As if that weren't enough, Mercedes has to make a sexy coupe out of its C63 AMG. Where's a dealer showroom I can occupy?

The star of the new two-door C63 remains the fantastic engine. Mercedes' new 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 is a good engine - better than good, actually - but even a brief turn behind the wheel of the C63 is a growling reminder of what's been sacrificed in the name of more efficient power. The free-breathing, high-revving nature of the 6.2-liter V-8 makes you actually work a little bit to squeeze out its epic power. That's a good thing, as too many modern high-performance cars, especially those from luxury brands, feel like leather-ensconced bullet trains. Direct steering, snug sport seats, and one of the best soundtracks this side of an NHRA top fuel car further the sense that this is a driver's car and not just an impressive stat sheet.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

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