Mercedes C 63 AMG Saloon Reviewed

In Car Reviews, Mercedes-Benz by Neil Lyndon

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In the week that Mercedes-AMG launched the new C 63 Saloon and Estate in Scotland, BBC Radio 3’s “Building a Library” included Dennis Brain playing Mozart Horn Concerti with Herbert Von Karajan conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra.

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So? What’s the connection?


Both Brain and Von Karajan were fanatical lovers of fast cars with sensitive, demanding handling. Brain – incomparably the greatest horn player of his time – who was to be killed at the wheel of his Triumph TR2, used to have a copy of Autocar propped on his music stand during concerts while he played from memory. Von Karajan was addicted to speed on two and four wheels and owned some of the most sophisticated and demanding cars of his time – including a Ferrari 275GTB, a Lancia Stratos and a Porsche RSK Spyder.

“Building a Library” proved that the Mozart recordings these two geniuses made together in November 1953 have never been outshone. Tastes have changed, techniques have advanced, technology has been transformed (the 1953 recordings were in mono, of course) yet, in more than 60 years, the brightness and vivacity and mastery of that performance have never been eclipsed.

“That, however, was more than enough to pin our ears flat to our skulls.”
In the same period, the composition of cars has been transformed out of sight. “What would those two have made of this car?” I was wondering while driving the C 63. Surely they would have been astounded to find that a conventionally-bodied saloon or estate car off a manufacturer’s assembly line (albeit a highly specialised line) could perform to a level they would never have glimpsed or imagined in their own time, even if they had been driving Le Mans sports cars on circuits. No matter how talented they were in a recording studio, neither of them would have been capable of driving this car to the limits of its capabilities. To get the most out of an AMG C 63, it’s not enough to be an unsurpassed musical genius: you’d need to be a top racer.

On flooded Perthshire roads, with the hills doused in freezing cloud, the C 63 was never closer to its limits than 60%. Not once did we see a straight road longer than 300 yards. Of the 650 Nm of torque produced by that lusty four-litre V8 with nearly 500 bhp, we therefore took no more than the most fleeting sip.

That, however, was more than enough to pin our ears flat to our skulls. In the entire universe of road cars, there can’t be more than 20 that will accelerate faster than the C 63’s 4.1 seconds and most of those are dart-like two-seaters in the supercar bracket with prices far into six figures. The £60060 OTR price of the C 63 begins to look cheap in that company.

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Meanwhile, the vast (390x36mm), vented disc brakes with 14-piston callipers, the four-link front suspension with electronically-controlled three-stage dampers and the multi-link independent rear suspension are all of a degree of sophistication and complexity that might make Mozart look ho-hum.

Even more incomprehensible to Brain and HvK would have been the fact that this flabbergastingly high-performance car can be used comfortably every day in mundane, routine domestic and working life.

Distinguishable on the outside from a standard M-B C-Class mainly by its modest “V8 BiTurbo” insignia on the flanks and quad exhaust tailpipes, the AMG C 63 looks little different on the inside and could be driven every day in equal tranquillity on its way to the school gates or the office car-park. In estate car form, the AMG C 63 carries this trick to laughable levels, providing all the carrying capacity a family with push-chairs could need while also keeping up its sleeve identical powers of performance and body control to the saloon’s.

No matter what adjustment you dial into the dampers, the ride remains as hard as a filing cabinet’s – but any man who could enjoy a TR2 or a Lancia Stratos would probably not complain.

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Mercedes C 63 AMG Saloon Reviewed

On the road prices: £60,060

Engine: 3982cc, V8
Power: 476bhp @5500-6250rpm
Torque: 650Nm @1750-4500rpm
0-62mph: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 155 mph
Fuel economy: combined 34.5 mpg
CO2 emissions: 192 g/km

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About the Author

Neil Lyndon


Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK's national stage for 40 years, writing for every "quality" newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 - the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.

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