Six things we learned riding in the new 680hp Mercedes-AMG C63

By topgear, 15 October 2022

It could’ve had a V8

AMG’s decision to equip the new C63 with a 2.0-litre hybrid four-cylinder powerplant instead of a thumping great V8 is a controversial one for enthusiasts. And, as it turns out, not one that was forced onto Mercedes by legislation. We asked Jochen Hermann, AMG’s Chief Technical Officer, if it would’ve been possible to get a V8 through the current emissions tests.

“If you go back some years we were sitting there saying ‘we can do another V8’. We still have the V8 elsewhere in our range,” says Hermann affirmatively, noting the AMG GT73 hybrid four-door, as well as the likes of the G63 and SL63 continuing with non-hybrid V8s.

“That’s not the problem. We know we have to transform into the future. So we thought ‘how can we make the car more efficient and yet give even more power to the customer?’ This is what we’ve done here.”

The 2.0-litre engine is right on the limit

The C63’s four-cylinder engine is a spectacular piece of engineering. Even in the A45S hot hatch it’s bonkers – good for 420hp. To squeeze it up to 475hp, AMG has plumbed in an electric motor for the huge turbo, spooling it up instantly to help the engine breathe, and of course to eliminate turbo lag. So, does that mean this furious 2.0-litre is on the limit of what can be done? Or is there still more horsepower to be liberated from it?

“This is about the limit,” says Hermann gravely. He concedes that future leaps in horsepower totals are more likely to come from electric motor boost than an even more tuned petrol engine.

That said… we’ll be interested to see what the world’s tuning houses come up with when they get their hands – and laptops – on the new C63.

The charging strategy is from the AMG One

AMG is at pains to draw links between its F1-engined hybrid hypercar, and the C63. Makes sense – the One has cost a large fortune to develop, and it’s run rather late. Mercedes needs to prove that the lessons learned and investment spent wasn’t just for the benefit of 249 supercar collectors.

“In Formula One they do the quickest lap in qualifying. The battery technology comes from F1, and so has a lot of software and functions in this car. This will be the future of car development.”

Owners demanded the new C63 had even more power than before

It can’t just be us at TG that staggered backwards when we learned the new C63 develops 680hp. That’s a colossal total, up a mighty 160hp from the old V8 bi-turbo C63. And that’s not a car we ever clambered out of thinking ‘hmm, could do with more oomph, that. What a slowcoach'.

Jochen tells us customers don’t necessarily think that way, nodding when asked if C63 owners are ‘addicted to power'.

However, with a kerbweight well in excess of 2.1 tonnes, the C63 needs huge power, if it’s not going to be left in the dust of the lighter (if hardly featherweight) BMW M3.

It’s swift enough to tackle country roads as an EV

Operating as a pure EV, the new C63 delivers 200hp to all four wheels. In such a weighty car, you’d imagine this would barely make the new AMG move, and as such the E-mode would be best saved for early starts when you’d prefer to depart the house without making your neighbours hate you, and teach their cats to poo in your garden.

Jochen’s keen to demonstrate the car can get out of its own way while quietly whooshing about on battery power, and clogs it through a technical uphill left-hander on AMG’s private test road. The car scoots forward with the pace of a regular family hatchback and there’s even a peep of tyre-squeal on corner-exit.

Travelling silently in an AMG still feels deeply odd, but it’s something we’re going to have to get used to. Well, for about eight miles at a time. This is not designed to be a car you treat as a pure EV very often.

No, it doesn’t sound as good as the old one

You can make up your own mind on the noise by watching our in-depth walkaround and passenger ride video, but as feared, the C63’s downsized engine has a very different noise character to the last model.

The 2.0-litre engine is an angry and rather buzzy performer – revvy and raspy to listen to, with vibration coming though the bulkhead and what sounds like audio-augmentation in the cabin.

There’s excitement to it, but it simply doesn’t sound as expensive or as soulful as the old V8s did. Even the 4.0-litre V8 survived the arrival of turbos with a superbly thunderous soundtrack, but the new C63’s vocals will take some getting used to. In fact, the whole car will – it’s an enormous change from what you’re used to from AMG.

STORY Ollie Kew

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