Sometime late last summer I sold my 135i and was on the hunt for a car. Problem was I didn’t know what I was looking for. That’s rare because generally I get infatuated with a vehicle and search all corners of the world looking the best example I could afford.
Fast forward to early February 2017, approximately 5 months without my own car (I mostly drove a work cargo van around in the name of a Ram Promaster City) the car gods sent a message to me, via my mother. Yes, my mom. One day in the kitchen while putting together some breakfast my mother tells me some gossip about some family friends. Typical morning I thought as I tried to drown out the stories. That was until she began talking about one of our family friends that I recalled owning a C63 coupe. Turns out he had to leave the country in a jiffy and that he was selling his, you guessed it, car!
Full disclosure, I didn’t know this family friend of ours very well. I’ve seen him a handful of times and spoken maybe a dozen words to him. I recalled he owned this hideously coloured C63 coupe. It was from what I remembered a chrome green. I do recall one day going up to it peeking inside and thinking to myself “ok, this is a pretty damn nice car”. I think I was more jealous than anything as he is much my junior and just out of school.
I thought what the hell, I asked my mom for his contact and soon enough we met up. My new learned friend then explains to me in great enthusiasm that the car is a 2015, last year for the W204 C63 meaning it is the 507 edition. That number correlates to the factory rated horsepower of the vehicle. Five hundred and seven horsepower. Yea, I have never driven a car with that much...horsepower. He then told me that in 2015 AMG did final improvements to the motor and tranny that were not widely published. The motor is essentially the same one from the SLS AMG gullwing supercar and in ways maybe even better. He goes on to tell me he dyno’d the car and it put down a scarcely believable 526 horsepower at the crank. Germans usually underrate their cars so this wasn’t a big surprise, but the sheer number value was hard to get my head around. His family is close with my family, and we both knew as much. As such, a certain amount of trust is automatically there before really getting to know each other. For that reason, he threw me the keys right away. I threw them back so I could see how he drove the car.
10 minutes later of some very uninspiring traffic ridden Toronto driving it was enough of that. We swapped seats, I fired the car up to the glorious sound of Affalterbachs famous engine, code M156 with its Mopar eating big block 6.2 litre naturally aspirated V8. Oh yea, your mighty American muscle may have a 5.7 HEMI or a 5.0 Ford Coyote, but nope, this sled has 6.2 German schnitzel wagging litres and boy did you ever know it. That test drive sealed the deal for me compounded with the fact that he put a massive down payment on his 2 year lease that was just ending and I found myself collecting the keys to my new car for a buy out price that couldn’t even buy you a well equipped Honda Pilot. I have never been a Merc fan. In fact I always saw them as inferior to BMW because they never made manual sports cars. On that fact alone I would never have any interest in what Merc was doing. One 20 minute drive in a “slushbox” C63 and my world got flipped upside down. That is how I acquired the car, now I will tell you what it’s all about.
You know you’re in something special the moment you fire the car up. Not in the way how I wrote about the 135i. I convinced myself that car was special as some sort of self consoling method after the issues the car was plagued with. No, the C63 truly is a bonkers skunk works like project. Let’s talk about sound. The engineers mated an absolutely unapologetic factory exhaust to the presumably massive exhaust ports. In that sense the car is loud, very loud. Supercar loud. But Merc being Merc meant the car is always going to be gentlemanly as well so they stuff the car with tons of sound deadening material and you can barely hear the exhaust. In fact, several reviewers of this car even complained it’s too quiet in the cabin. For me, it’s perfect because it is precisely what I wanted. Quiet on the inside, no idea how loud on the outside. When cruising there absolutely no droning noise as you would expect from Mercedes. They would never roll a sports car off the line with the AMG badge that had droning like you were driving a Civic with a Parts Source exhaust can. At wide open throttle, the car is obnoxiously loud, from what I have been told. The cabin still remains quite quiet even at WOT. However, if you want the full heart pounding experience with a loud cabin all you need to do is fold the rear seats down. Rear seats block around 30% of noise from the rear of the car. With those down you can hear all the crackles and bangs of the exhaust. It’s wonderful. Nowadays supercars have “loud exhaust” buttons that you press, but the fold down seat option is good too. The sound of the car is very important to the emotion that you capture from the driving experience and AMG nailed it.
Interior. Prior to my C63 I have never been in a C class. I always felt that the interior of these cars were outdated, with that phone dial pad and all. Sitting in the C63 and taking a moment to understand the controls you begin to realize Merc actually thinks things through quite intelligently. You would never say the interior is minimalist by looking at pictures, but once you there it’s different. There are only 3 stalks on the steering column and they are all on the left side leaving you a very clean steering column. The steering wheel itself very well laid out with buttons clearly marked and easily reached. The centre stack although dated in looks functions very well. No frills, just functional. The infotainment system looks dated but again, it works surprisingly well. Some items you need to go through unnecessary amount of menus but at the end of the day you set those items and forget it forever. AMG badging - you’ll see some to remind you of your wonderful purchase. Nicely finished metal inserts in each front seat, AMG letters on your gauge cluster, and a small metal plate on the passenger trim that says AMG 507 Edition, there is nothing else. Ok, the shift knob has a sweet Affalterbach roundel on top, and you get your typical floor mats and door sills that say AMG. It’s subtle, maybe too subtle but still nicely appointed. The seats are very supportive and plush enough to not give you any back or ass aches even after long drives. The 507 models came with Merc’s top of the line Designo leather and it makes the interior clearly that much more upscale. It’s a nice place to be and you learn to love the dated design.
I’m going to touch a bit on the exterior. I was never a fan of the exterior design. Again, much like the interior, it just looked very dated. Not curvy and smooth, yet not aggressively angular. Its like the designer couldn’t decide what direction to go with so there are bits and pieces of both styles. This is the interesting part. In your usual black, white and greys, the lines of the car cannot be seen. In this matte metallic green wrap it gives the car an entirely new dimension. All the lines pop out and you soon see what the designers were going for. Beautiful? No, but it has great presence. With the forged 19" wheels and massive 6/4 piston brake combo, the car sits confidently wherever it goes. I hated the green but now I love it.
So how does the car drive. Although my car is only 2 years old, it’s based off a 8 year old design. The W204 body style C class came out in 2009. That’s a long time ago. Like most cars it went through it a mid life refresh changing mostly aesthetics and infotainment technology. It also got some safety features and driving convenience aids to keep up with the times. With my car being the last year model it has everything from blind spot detection to active cruise control. Being the C63 it also got some driving modes. However, there’s only so much you can change when it comes to chassis, suspension, transmission, steering and engine. These are the factors that give you the driving feeling. Two aspects of the car stand out to me in terms of steering and suspension. The first is that it’s hydraulic steering, you are connected to the wheels mechanically. The second is the suspension is not adaptive. They simple strut and spring mechanism without interference from electronics or magnetic technology. These are important to me because it the car remains pure and very “old school”. You drive the car, not the other way around. The electronics are basic. There’s traction control and that’s it. Moreover, the folks at AMG make it very easy for you to turn the TC off. You hold the TC button for a mere 5 ish seconds and nothing stands between you right foot and 526 horsepower. Nowadays supercars require you to go through more of a circus act to disable everything. All these traits add to the pureness of this car. It is truly a car that is meant to give the driver the most connected and raw experience. You simply will not find any other modern European car that is rear driven with a hand built 526 naturally aspirated horsepower, mechanical locking diff, non adaptive suspension, hydraulic steering and skinny 255 rear section tires. The suspension is marvellously tuned as it soaks up bumps surprisingly well yet keeps the car flat and predictable when driven hard through corners. The steering is very precise with a pretty aggressive steering rack. It’s not pointy, but it goes where you point it. None of this is an easy feat as the car weighs nearly 4000 lbs. The brakes deserve high praise as well as even with stock pads there was very little fading going on when I took it to the track. The brake feel is spot on, they bite and modulate nicely plus they are durable. The Achilles heel as they say is the 7 speed auto transmission but it only shows its weakness when you’re on the track and frankly, how often do people track their C63s? It shifts far too slow to keep up with hard track driving but the auto delivers uber smooth shifts around town at slow and moderate speeds. There is zero jerk between gears and the programming is spot on. It’s just about perfect for everyday driving.
And then there’s the engine. It’s the heart and soul of this car. It is one of AMG’s greatest creations. 6.2 litres that revs to over 7000 rpms. I mean, it LIKES to rev too. Usually big displacement means grunty low end torque but no, this is a big flippen engine that wants to rev all the way to the redline and it does, boy does it ever. To most people’s surprise the car motor builds power as the revs increase so it acts more like a high revving 4 banger or sixer. You bury the throttle and when you get to about 4500 rpms you hit warp speed all the way to 7000 rpms. Now if you keep your foot down that long and you’re in any gear but first you are doing well into licence suspension speeds. In short, the engine is an absolute weapon.
My final thoughts. I’ve owned the car for nearly 10 months now and I am very pleased with “The Hulk”. I don’t name my cars but this one is an exception. People also voluntarily call it that, sometimes it gets Green Dragon as well. I drove it through winter and although it was a mild one it was still winter and it was fine. The TC works overtime in the winter but it does its job very well. There are times I need to move cargo around and with the seats folded down combined with the massive trunk space it can move quite a bit. The rear leg room and head room is also quite good for a coupe meaning the few times I had to seat people in the back they were comfortable. The car’s ride height is aggressive but not too low so getting in and out of drive ways and driving over speed bumps is never a concern. The comfort and ride quality is outstanding. What I’m most impressed with is the cars ability to go from quiet, subdued ride to raging animal at a press of a button and a twitch of the right foot. It does that in ways the cars competitors could only dream of and even cars well past it’s price range. It really is difficult to fault this car. The simplicity of the systems should mean that even repairs would be relatively affordable. There are no turbos and fancy electronic suspension systems to fail. 526 horsepower is plenty around everywhere. Zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds. Super car territory. For around the 40 grand mark, is there anything better for the buck? The question now is, why do I find myself looking at used cars with even more horsepower?