The history of AMG is a little more obscure than that of any other ‘in house’ tuning company. This Mercedes-Benz produced video on the history of AMG gives an interesting insight into the birth of the company that can genuinely stake claim to being forged, quite literally, in the high octane world of motorsport.
The ‘AMG’ acronym is formed from the names of the company’s founding engineers, Hans Werner ‘Aufrecht’ and Erhard ‘Melcher’, together with Aufrecht’s town of birth, ‘Großaspach’. Not exactly romantic, Victorian poetry now is it? It’s quite ruthless in fact, much like the monstrous engines they engineer and the sound they make from a cold start. Try it, say “Aufrecht, Melcher, Großaspach” ten times over with a cold tongue, first thing in the morning. That’s the sound of pure AMG V8! Anyway, if two men ever truly deserved the title ‘engineers’, it’s these two.
Aufrecht and Melcher came together in the 1960s to design, test and race Mercedes-Benz’s first direct-injection racing engines. By 1976, when their operation had moved to the town of Affalterbach, (where Mercedes-AMG GmbH, as its known today, is still based), they were unofficially making high performance, tuning packages for Mercedes-Benz road cars as well. The first and most notable iteration was the 300 SEL 6.3 saloon of the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a road going version of their first and most successful racing car of the same name. It would have been the modern day equivalent of the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, as it was the second largest model Mercedes-Benz had on offer at the time, (second only to the massive 600 Grosser) and matched with the biggest displacement engine.
That very first ‘AMG performance V8’ was a normally aspirated, 6.3-litre engine producing 223 kW. It could accelerate the 300 SEL to 100 km/h in 7.0 seconds – faster than the E-Type Jaguar sports car of the time. It was essentially the same engine from the Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser, which showed, firstly, AMG’s wilful obsession with powerful engines and secondly, their proclivity of sharing the big displacement power units up and down the Mercedes-Benz range. This is indeed the AMG way and it’s been there from the very start.
Today, 40 years on, we have the same 6.3-litre badge under the side gills of yet another great Mercedes-Benz. This time it’s the simply vicious C63 AMG Coupé. Of course it’s actually a 6.2-litre, normally aspirated, V8 that breathes heavy underneath the ridge-back bonnet, but now with a bit of understanding for AMG history, I can see why they’ve kept with the retro 6.3-litre badging.
40 Years on in engine development and this particular AMG engine now produces 358 kW and 600 Nm of torque. 25 kW more than the standard 336 kW because our C63 AMG Coupé test unit also happens to be equipped with the AMG Performance Package. Zero to 100 km/h will come up in 4.3 seconds and the top speed is limited to 250 km/h. The visual giveaway for said AMG Performance Package is the black, light alloy rims, and carbon fibre rear spoiler.
It’s no surprise to me, or anyone who’s piloted an AMG Mercedes-Benz, that the company is still ruthlessly obsessed about its engines. They dominate the experience of driving so overwhelmingly that you are rarely able to, (or want to – Ed.), concentrate on other aspects of the car, like the handling, the gearbox, or the steering, when you’re travelling at full throttle. They are all secondary concerns after the engine. Except that if you’ve been following Mercedes-Benz AMG of late, you’ll know that the C63 AMG Coupé is actually meant to be the car that turns that thinking on its head slightly. AMG wanted this to be a proper, grippy, rigid, responsive, sports coupé, to take on the BMW M3 and not just another tail wagging, smoke bellowing, V8 muscle car. We covered the C63 AMG Coupé at its launch on Zwartkops Raceway, where our track time highlighted the changes Mercedes has made to the chassis, brakes, suspension and electronic driver aids – click here for more detail. I personally applaud this sports coupe formula as someone who prefers a car to maintain as much traction as possible, instead of emulating tail sliding, pseudo driving heroics, a’la Top Gear.
Having close on the magical 500 horsepower mark being sent only to the rear wheels can be intimidating, and it’s made even more so by a V8 soundtrack that leaves your eyes bouncing around in their sockets and a whip-crack sound from the exhausts that would make Zorro cower in jealousy. The way to counteract this brutality is to drive with precision, metering out the power under your right foot with millimetre-like accuracy, because with 600 Nm on tap, every 50 mm of pedal travel delivers the equivalent torque of a mid-size executive saloon. Of course you can ignore that fact and just mash the accelerator to the floorboard at every glimpse of an opportunity, but I wouldn’t recommend it. What a waste of the C63 AMG Coupé’s talents.
One of the most enjoyable things I found myself doing, was to hold individual gears in ‘manual’ mode, ease through the rev range at half throttle and just soak up the warm, serotonin-producing acceleration, as I was ‘gently’ pressed into the back of my seat. This had a double edged effect. One, it meant you could pull off the line quite elegantly without spinning the rear wheels, leaving big ‘elevenses’ and getting kicked out of your suburb, and two, you could enjoy maximum aural entertainment from the engine. I didn’t think I could ever tire of accelerating the C63 AMG Coupé from standstill, flat out or not, except of course until I got the fuel bill.
Yes I know, talking about the evil matter of fuel when you’re testing an AMG is utterly boring, but it is worth mentioning that in my experience of both the bi-turbo E63 AMG and the smaller displacement, normally aspirated SLK 55 AMG, with its clever cylinder deactivation technology, that the big C63 AMG’s consumption was by far the thirstiest of the three at well over 15L/100kmin the real world. The E63 AMG’s was the best, proving that bi-turbo cleverness is more efficient than even that of cylinder deactivation.
What I’m saying is that you’ll genuinely need to fork out at the pumps for the enjoyment that the 6.2-litre AMG V8 provides. On balance, however, it’s probably worth it because while the SLK 55 AMG sounds sonorous like a Messerschmidt, the C63 sounds louder and more vulgar like a Focke-Wulf –not that I’ve ever actually heard either WW2 fighter plane, but I imagine they’d sound like an AMG V8.
What of the promise of handling to rival the benchmark BMW M3? Well unfortunately I had only a few hours of dry roads and sunny weather for the entire week I had possession of the C63 AMG Coupé, what a shame, trust me, but I think it may do. The C63 AMG Coupe is certainly much faster, more rigid and more controllable than the bouncy and over stimulating SLK 55 AMG, but in all honesty, I couldn’t care less about so piffling a question. When you drive this vehicle nothing else matters but that handmade V8 engine. It’s like the spirits of Aufrecht and Melcher are along for the ride, just a few centimeters away from you in the engine bay.
What we like…
- In all seriousness, it is very sporty. It’s rigid, responsive and wants to corner.
- ‘Race Start’ function and ‘Sport Handling’ function work to get 600 Nm onto the road.
- This is no stripped out racer: Sat-Nav, leather, Command Online, and a hard drive for your music are all available.
- The heavy mechanical sounds it makes, even when it’s just swapping cogs.
What we would like…
- Even with the larger, optional, 19-inch wheels, the rear end is too high and the rear wheels look a bit ‘lost’.
- Improved fuel economy, but who are we kidding? It’s worth it for that sound.
- A double-clutch gearbox.
|Base Price (incl. VAT)||R950 050|
|Warranty||2 year / Unlimited km|
|Engine Capacity||6 208 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||8-cylinders, V-Formation|
|Power||358 kW @ 6 850 r/min|
|Torque||600 N.m @ 5 050 r/min|
|Drive type||Rear-wheel drive|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 4.3 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||250 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||12.0 l/100km (claimed combined)|
|CO2 Emissions||280 g/km|