Galileo Humpkins wrote a nice Oppo review of his new SQ5 earlier today, which reminded me that I never wrote one of my C63. So here goes. However, rather than compare this thing to just its segment, I’m going to attempt to rate it realistically against, like, the world of cars generally, which will cost it a few points since it’s a couple years old.
It’s not achingly beautiful or anything, but it’s handsome. A nice-looking small German sedan, just a particularly mean-looking one, in black on black on black on black, which means it’s basically dirty as soon as you drive it. However, I think the C63 with its aero bits and fender flares and whatnot looks just the right amount more aggressive than your standard C-class without being offensively shouty, and then the 507 gets the Black Series’s lightweight aluminum hood with some extra (functional) ducts in it, plus piano black trim on the grille and mirrors, plus matte black wheels, plus some dark gray decals down by the rockers. Performance package means red brake calipers, of course.
Plus very nice carbon fiber trim and a few 507-specific trim items, like a little badge by the glove box, alcantara wheel, and alcantara shift knob with the AMG logo instead of the M-B logo. The seats are amazing. It’s sporty, it’s comfortable, everything works; on the other hand, it’s pretty far from the standard set by, like, top-of-line luxury models like S-classes and Bentleys and such. Basically, the materials seem better than the comparable BMWs but not as pretty as the comparable Audis.
It has a good stereo and a backup camera and it’s easy to switch displays on the little screen between the gauges; the navigation and Bluetooth and infotainment system all work much faster and more reliably than my Audi’s (same model year) did, but it’s not as good as the newest systems. I find it all very intuitive and it always works I like the way you slide your fingers on the inside or outside of the door handles to unlock or lock it. I’m told the heated seats satisfactorily warm female passengers’ buttocks. I couldn’t ask for more.
Oh, right, the transmission: it’s good. It’s better than the first generation. It shifts very fast and very smoothly. The paddles are great. In comfort mode (the default) it starts smoothly in 2nd. In sport mode you start in 1st, which exists solely for burnouts and race starts and has its own separate clutch situation. This makes sport mode kind of annoying from a stop in traffic or when you’re otherwise slowly moving away from a stop over and over, but you’d have to be a pretty dim bulb to drive in sport mode in that kind of situation on purpose.
Excuse me while I giggle like a maniac.
It does 0-60 in under 4 seconds and sounds like Satan’s own brass section. When you drive it normally it can be very civilized but there is always, always, torque available at the touch of the accelerator; put it in “sport plus” mode and you may find yourself doing burnouts by accident. Yeah, by accident, that’s the ticket. The 507 gets the forged internals from the SLS for a few pounds of weight savings and extra grunt.
Fuel economy is...less terrible on the highway than you might think, at least after driving it around town a lot? It’s not good. I guess fuel economy is for the poor. Or lack of fuel economy is for making you poor. One of those things is definitely happening to me.
See, it does two things here. It is fast, and it also feels fast. When you’re just cruising along or passing somebody on the highway, you often find yourself going faster a bit faster than you intended, almost by accident. A common feature in German highway cruisers. But that’s at 30% throttle. When you really mash it, your surroundings just go away, and it feels RAW. It is about equally fast in pure numerical terms as the McLaren I rented at one of those track day experience thingamajigs, and it’s almost certainly slower around a track, but it FEELS faster. As a usable daily driver with a comfortable back seat, that’s a rare quality.
I’ve used this analogy before, but it’s true: if carving corners in an E46 M3 or a 911 (well, a recent one, anyway) is scrimshaw, doing the same in a C63 AMG is chainsaw sculpture. It is not a scalpel, but it sure is effective. Mine has the track package suspension, so that helps as well, albeit at the cost of some ride comfort, especially in sport mode. It’s tail-happy (to say the very least), and the traction control in sport mode will let you get very loose, but it will also probably save you...it’s actually very impressive how well it snaps you back in line. But before that happens, you WILL get out of line. There is a reason Clarkson called the first generation “an axe murderer with headlights.” It’s better than the competition in a lot of ways—it’s predictable, it doesn’t know the meaning of the word “understeer,” the steering can be a little vague on center when going straight at low speed but it’s extremely responsive under load...it’s very good, and it’s better than anything bigger, but look, we all know what it is.
It has all the modern safety features, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, etc. etc. etc. I feel very safe. But a car that prefers to be burning rubber sideways most of the time can’t possibly get 10/10 here.
[TAVARISH VOICE] You can buy a nice used C63 AMG for the price of a new Camry....so I went out and bought one that was rolled down a hill, set aflame, and then beaten with axes by an angry mob, all for ten grand. Great deal!
But seriously, you can buy a good one for half its original sticker price and an OK one for less than that. It’s 3-5 years old. It looks and sounds better than the new one. Is it really better? Eh, depends what you like. Definitely not if you’re in it for creature comforts. But my god, that engine—we shall not see its like again. And half the price! Plus, if you can find a 507, I’m optimistic that it will hold value a bit better—to my mind, it has the ideal set of options (performance package, LSD, additional appearance stuff, forged engine internals, leather seats instead of Alcantara for better wear). Plus the sedans are quite rare.
Note: this score applies to price now. Purchased new...well, mine stickered at around $90k. That’s a lot. I definitely don’t have $90k to spend on a new car.
Overall Performance: 9/10
The most fun you can have in a practical 4-door sedan. I mean, the M3 is great too. Neither is a supercar. Both are a hell of a lot higher performance than you or I really need. That sounds like a 9 to me.
Overall Comfort: 8/10
The seats are great. They hug you when you go around corners. The back seat is comfortable and has room for actual adults. The climate controls and other comfort stuff works great. It’s very nice but it’s not super luxurious and the ride quality, while much less harsh than my E46 M3, definitely reminds you that you are in a sports sedan at all times.
Anyway, I can’t add, but I think these numbers are pretty reasonable. What’s that, 87/100? Sure, that sounds good. To compare it directly to today’s earlier review, a model I’ve driven and whose previous generation I actually owned (the same model year as my C63—in fact, I briefly owned both at the same time while I worked on selling the SQ5): this is a lot more fun than an SQ5, but it’s not as comfortable or as practical, and I think it’s about the same in the looks department. I think Mr. SQ5 slightly overrated all the performance metrics in an absolute sense, but is correct as compared to other crossovers. Thus, I would think they should score about the same in an absolute sense, and which you’d prefer just depends on how much you prefer putting dogs in the back and having the newest tech to RAW POWERRRRRRR.