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2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 Review

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  • SEE ALSO: Mercedes-Benz Specs, Pics and Prices - Mercedes-Benz Buyers Guide
  • Special To The Auto Channel
    by Marty Bernstein
    AIADA Contributing Editor

    Scottsdale, AZ
    A Couple Weeks Ago

    The dire warnings from the PR spokesperson, “Lots of cops are out there waiting for you” are usually not ignored by auto writers when test driving a new model in city, post-rush hour traffic … usually is the operative word.

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    Not more than two minutes after leaving the parking lot of the hotel, the driver of the vehicle – who must remain nameless -- in which I was the navigator passenger was given a 16 mph over the posted speed of 30 mph ticket for $186.

    Protestations of innocence and no visible speed limit signing, not withstanding, he was driving over the limit. The cop had clocked him. But it was not his fault. Honest. He was not in control of the C63, A demonic force takes over control of the C63 when the new AMG sedan is driven at under 30 miles an hour.

    Try as hard as you might, it’s not in your control. A constant steam of forceful stimulating messages is transmitted to your brain through the steering wheel, “Pick it up dummy! Move it. Come on, kick it some,” and my personal favorite, “Hit it ole man … come on, you can go faster … faster … faster!”

    This in turn activates the right foot to apply ever increasing pressure to the accelerator. Which means you are going faster and, do indeed, deserve a ticket. But the circumstances were beyond control.

    This is a car on steroids!

    The C63 AMG is guilty as charged. This is not just a hot street-legal-car, no way. It’s one helluva fast car period. If it were a pro athlete it might well be described as powered by Balco. But this vehicle is powered by one of the most powerful naturally aspirated production V8s ever, the 6.3-liter AMG engine with a wealth of exciting features derived from AMG’s highly successful racing efforts.

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    Every new AMG engine is hand-assembled one at a time by expert technicians at Mercedes-AMG in Affalterbach, Germany and is bench-tested to ensure maximum performance. Mercedes-AMG follows a philosophy of “one man, one engine.” which means that a single technician – identified by the signature plate affixed to the engine – is responsible for the complete assembly of an AMG high-performance engine from start to finish.

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    As a non-techie-type I was impressed by the zeal of the factory executive, who explained this to the group of auto writers, “With the utmost care, the craftsman installs each and every part – from the crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons to the intake system. Individual workmanship and skill still count here. Built almost completely from a high-strength silicon-aluminum alloy, the engine features four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, bucket-type cam followers (rather than rocker arms), and a variable intake manifold.” A techie-type sitting beside me had tears in his eyes.

    What makes it so fast? A few things. First, the engine is designed exclusively by AMG, and shares not parts with other Mercedes V8 engines. Due to its large displacement, the engine develops over 30 percent more torque than comparable engines. And, as the tearful tech beside me said, “It’s the torque that counts from the get-go! Not the horsepower.”

    A statement of engineering eloquence, excellence and lucidity if ever there was one. The 6.3 liter V8 engine produces a 451-hp and 443 lb-ft. of torque. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. Zero to 60 time is 4.3 seconds.

    The sound produced from the sports exhaust system with its two chromed twin tailpipes when accelerating heavily is truly best described by the overused word – awesome. The C63 does produce an awesome sound if you happen to like this sound and I really do. This is a racing machine. But it’s disguised as a sedan.

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    Well, disguised as a bit ludicrous. The front end of the C 63 AMG is dominated by the new hood with its two pronounced power domes and the trademark – in your rear view mirror and coming on fast -- AMG radiator grille with the MB star and two chrome inserts. The honeycomb pattern of the grille is also reflected in the large air dams of the new athletically contoured front apron, which forms part of the AMG-specific body styling.

    The front fog lamps with chrome surrounds are spaced well apart, acting together with the flared front wheel arches to accentuate the width of the car. A real eye-catcher is the striking transition from the front apron to the wings. The side air vents in the front apron serve to expel the hot air from the oil coolers.

    Inside its form and function personified. The big, but not bulky AMG sports seats with integrated head restraints keep one firmly planted in the seat with adaptive backrest with adjustments for the side bolsters and lumbar support. Even at high speeds on curves there you’re planted in the seat comfortably, securely and safely. As expected instrumentation is spare, simple with easy to read.

    Out On The Road

    As I’ve mentioned before, one pairs up with another journalist for the test drive – it’s the reason why you’re here – demonstration of the vehicle. Given the incident preceding my sitting behind the wheel, I was determined to follow all rules of the road.

    This begins by carefully adjusting the steering wheel to the correct angle and distance from my body (extend your right arm so that the top of the steering wheel rests slightly behind the wrist) checked all mirrors for proper angles and quick-reads, and with some intimidation started it up.

    The first reaction was, did it start? I could not hear the engine. It’s that quiet but it was on. With the toe dissention of prima ballerina in full dance mode, I touched the accelerator … and off we went. Smoothly, effortlessly and cautiously. No tickets for me. No sir. No way.

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    My 105 miles of solo driving to the next stop were as enjoyable as any I have had at both high and crawling through traffic speeds from Arizona’s amazing mountain heights to flat desert valleys which were almost in full bloom under a sky as blue as any I’ve ever seen. An amazing sight itself.

    The steering wheel takes a bit of time to become comfortable, it’s not a true circle which at first is confusing, but then secure. Naturally, there are speed shifter paddles. There are three ESP drive modes which can be individually selected depending on the road and the drivers inclination. This feature was most welcome. The brakes are (a) huge and (b) they really work quickly. It’s a point counterpoint to the torque acceleration. A very interesting, unique driving experience and then we arrived at the next destination.

    And On The Race Track

    Many automotive journalists are certified, expert race car drivers. They know how to confidently handle and drive a high speed car with skill and aplomb over a specially designed cone marked course that tests the vehicles handling and the drivers’ skill. These guys are remarkable.

    Honestly, I’m not in this group. Yeah, I’ve driven on the track at the Daytona Speedway at high speeds always turning left and have gone to a couple of high speed driving courses, but when I comes to testing as one of group out on the track – my skills are lacking. The determination is there, but confidence is more than a little suspect.

    That acknowledgement made, it's my duty to report the writers who know what they are doing said among statements that can be reported, “Talk about kicking b***! Awesome! Great! Special! Sensational!”

    Even my co-driver during the entire day took to the course with a vengeance usually not associated with his calm, professional demeanor, “Now I’m really going to go fast!” And he did, without a ticket either. We were on private property.