The C63 AMG gets its thrust from a hand-built 6.2-liter V-8. Although tuned to an inch of its life, this engine lacks efficiency technologies such as direct injection or any kind of forced induction. Its big displacement outputs 451 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, numbers that result in the rear wheels fighting the traction control at every launch.
We found no reason to doubt Mercedes-Benz's claim of 4.3 seconds to 60 mph, but achieving that capability comes at a price. The EPA fuel economy rating for the C63 AMG is 12 mpg city and 19 mpg highway. Forget about breaking the 20 mpg mark. We tempered our canyon carving with steady freeway travel, ultimately turning in 14.2 mpg. The car doesn't want to be away from a gas station for too long, and requires frequent fuel-gauge checking.
Because of its very poor mileage, the C63 AMG is subject to the gas guzzler tax. Mercedes-Benz could learn from Audi, which ekes out a compromise between high performance and fuel economy with its latest S4. Although it's not as fast as the C63 AMG, the S4 delivers a satisfying sport-driving experience and fuel economy in the 20s.
Standard cabin tech
The Leather package brought Mercedes-Benz's sport seats into the cabin, which at first felt too tight. Then we found the buttons on the side of the backrest that loosened the bolsters. After a little adjustment, we had the seats perfectly set to keep us planted in the seat during the hardest cornering.
Unlike the first C63 AMG model we reviewed, our 2010 model lacked the Multimedia package. That package includes a hard-drive-based navigation system with traffic, 6GB of internal storage for music, and a Logic7 Harman Kardon audio system. This cabin tech suite is very good, a must-have for the C63 AMG.
As it was, our test car's cabin tech was very similar to that in the Mercedes-Benz C350 we reviewed earlier this year. The car still gets the COMAND system, consisting of an LCD on the center dash and a knob interface controller on the console. COMAND controls the stereo and phone system.
The COMAND interface gives radio tuning a nice treatment, showing an old-time tuner on the LCD, but no HD tuner without the upgraded cabin tech. The car also comes with satellite radio. The single-CD slot in the dashboard reads MP3 CDs, and the interface made it easy to browse through folders.
iPod integration comes with the Multimedia package, but is not standard in the car. Mercedes-Benz included its a-la-carte iPod adaptor in our car, but this system is a hack. Rather than show the music library on the LCD, where the car shows all other audio information, it uses the speedometer display.
The standard audio system uses eight speakers, but is inferior to the optional Harman Kardon system. Although better than an average six-speaker system, the sound was a bit hollow.
A Bluetooth phone system is also standard in the car, but without the Multimedia package, it is not very robust. Rather than downloading a phone's contact list, it requires contacts to be pushed to the car, something not all phones do.
Although we love driving this car, in some ways it is very primitive. It is no surprise that a big engine leads to lots of power but poor fuel economy. We would like to see Mercedes-Benz use some of the efficiency technologies coming in vogue, such as direct injection, to keep the power up but also deliver more miles per gallon. The C63 AMG earns points for its seven-speed transmission, which shows technical brilliance.
Our car certainly wasn't equipped with the cabin tech we would prefer, but as Mercedes-Benz does make the Multimedia package available, and we have used it, we give the car credit for the option. We also like the distinct design of the car, which manages to stand out as a Mercedes-Benz despite the fact that it fits in the midsize sedan class, one of the more uninspired segments on the road.
|Model||2010 Mercedes-Benz C--class|
|Power train||6.3-liter V-8|
|EPA fuel economy||12 mpg city/19 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||14.2 mpg|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible single-CD|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Onboard hard drive (with navigation option), USB port, satellite radio|
|Audio system||8-speaker standard, 5.1-channel Harmon Kardon optional|
|Driver aids||Rearview camera|
|Price as tested||$66,500|
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