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First look: Benz spoils M3 party with C63 AMG

Gate-crasher: Hottest ever C-class sprints to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds.

Mercedes-Benz exposes its answer to BMW's V8 M3 coupe: the 336kW C63 AMG sedan

5 Jul 2007

WE KNEW it was chronologically next in line for it, but tonight's official confirmation - that AMG's latest big-bore bent-eight, no less than 6.2 litres of bristling German V8, will slot underneath the bonnet of Mercedes-Benz's smallest sedan - still makes us ache in anticipation. In a classic case of ambush marketing, the all-new C63 AMG (due on sale here in the second quarter of 2008 as Benz's first C-class sedan to crack the 300kW mark) emerges just as BMW commences the European launch of its fourth-generation E92 M3 coupe - its fiercest rival and the first V8-powered M3.

Like Germany's other main compact sports sedan contender (at least until the RS5 coupe arrives), Audi's four-door RS4, the C63 AMG badge will also grace the forthcoming C-class Estate. And while Mercedes claims somewhat of a coup by delivering more power and torque than both the RS4 and the next M3, which will beat the C63 AMG to market here later this year, the C63 sedan actually musters less performance than both the W208 CLK63 AMG coupe and convertible already on sale. Based on the redesigned W204 sedan that hits Australia later this month, the newest C-class AMG produces 336kW at 6800rpm - just shy of the 340kW-odd offered by Benz's official C-class race-car in the German DTM touring car championship.

The fifth state of tune in which AMG's exclusive new V8 (which lurks beneath a new bonnet with twin power domes in the C63 AMG) has now been produced, the C-class V8 also makes a best-in-class 600Nm of torque at 5000rpm, with at least 500Nm available between 2000 and 6250rpm.

Together, it's enough to propel the C63 AMG sedan to 100km/h in a claimed 4.5 seconds and to an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h.

That's quicker than the 270kW/510Nm 5.4-litre V8-powered C55 AMG it will replace, but two-tenths slower than the CLK63 AMG coupe, which currently does duty as the Formula One safety car and is powered by a 354kW/630Nm version of the AMG V8. It's priced at $199,100, while the CLK63 AMG Cabriolet costs $213,100.

Crucially, however, according to Mercedes, it's also quicker than both the RS4 sedan and new M3 coupe, both of which pack a 309kW V8 and a 0-100km/h claim of 4.8 seconds.

In the Audi's case, there's also 430Nm of torque on tap, and the six-speed manual-only RS4 sedan runs on 19-inch wheels and costs $164,500.

4 center imageOver at BMW, the new M3 offers 400Nm of torque, runs on 18-inch alloys, will be available initially only with a conventional six-speed manual and will cost somewhere between the current M3's $140,000 and the current C55 AMG's $160,490.

Meantime, the same AMG V8 manages 375kW/630Nm in the ML63 SUV ($159,900), 378kW/630Nm in the E63 ($227,600 sedan $233,600 Estate), 378kW/630Nm in the CLS63 "coupe" ($252,300) and 385kW/630Nm in the flagship CL63 AMG coupe ($383,000).

To shoe-horn it in, however, the AMG white-coats have added to the W204 menu an all-new three-link front axle with a 35mm-wider wheel track – as evidenced by the more heavily flared wheel-arches. There’s also speed-sensitive AMG sports steering, the new three-stage ESP stability control system, AMG sports suspension and the obligatorily discreet AMG bodykit.

The latter comprises a honeycomb grille, beefier front bumper with larger air-dams, chrome-ringed foglights and side vents, LED tail-lights, a bootlid lip spoiler, twin outboard chromed exhaust outlets and a chunky rear bumper with three pronounced black diffuser fins.

Not to mention the 18x8.0-inch front and 18x8.5-inch rear AMG light-alloy five-spoke wheels wrapped in 235/40 (front) and 255/35(rear) tyres. Mercedes will offer optional 19x8.0/19x9.0-inch front/rear multi-spoke alloys with 235/35 and 255/30-section rubber respectively.

Holding the show up are inner-vented and cross-drilled brake discs – 360x36mm up front and 330x26mm at rear – gripped by six- and four-piston fixed callipers respectively.

As with all applications of the new 6.2-litre AMG V8, which is accompanied by “6.3 AMG” badging on the front wings and side skirts despite the fact it displaces 6.208 litres, it’s matched with Benz’s seven-speed 7G-Tronic automatic transmission – in “AMG Speedshift Plus” guise complete with three push-button driving modes and steering wheel shift paddles.

In "S" for Sport mode, gearshifts are alleged to be 30 per cent faster than in "C" for Comfort mode, as well as 50 per cent faster in "M" for Manual mode, and the C63 is the first AMG to feature an M3-style throttle “blip” function during down changes.

“This not only enhances the driver's emotional experience - the almost completely jolt-free downshifting process also reduces the load-change responses and has a particularly positive effect when braking before bends on the racetrack,” says the press release.

Inside reside unique AMG-embossed, cross-piped sports seats with adaptive back, lumbar and side bolster adjustment and, for the first time, integrated head restraints, plus a new 365mm-diameter three-spoke leather-wrapped “AMG performance” steering wheel with flatten lower section – just like the RS4’s.

The two silver AMG shift paddles further differentiate the C63 from lesser C-class variants, as does the AMG instrument cluster, which displays the current ESP mode selected (“ESP on”, “ESP off” or “ESP Sport”) via the ESP key on the centre console.

The performance flagship of the third-generation C-class range follows a procession of AMG-tuned compact sedans from Mercedes, kicked off by the 206kW/385Nm 3.6-litre six-cylinder C36. Based on the first-generation W202 C-class of 1993, it was Benz's first direct response to BMW's dominant M3.

The C36 morphed into the C43 AMG at midlife facelift time for the W202. It was powered by a 225kW/410Nm 4.3-litre engine - the C-class's first V8.

The W203 C-class of 2000 eventually bought with it the somewhat tamer C32 AMG, complete with a 260kW/450Nm supercharged 3.2-litre V6. Alongside it in some markets was sold a 170kW/540Nm 3.0-litre inline five-cylinder turbo-diesel in the C30 CDI AMG, which was also available in sedan, wagon and Sportcoupe bodystyles.

AMG's supercharging craze continued with other models, but not in the C55 that replaced the C32 and returned the C-class to V8 power. Its naturally-aspirated 5.4-litre V8 was an derivative of the previous E-class V8, and ran alongside a supercharged V8 in other AMG models. Both were recently superseded by AMG's ballistic new 6.2-litre V8 and Mercedes' new 5.5-litre V8, which is not fitted to the new C-class. After the C63's 6.2, the W204's next most powerful engine is the 200kW 3.5-litre petrol V6.

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