Here’s an AMG for Generation X-Box. The new C63 S E Performance combines Formula 1 know-how with gaming tech to create a menu-managed monster that’s faster than any of its ancestors.
Boomers, on the other hand, may be disappointed when it arrives in Australia in July next year. The latest C63 lacks the exhaust thunder that’s sonic Viagra for many AMG customers.
There’s no rumbling V8 under the bonnet of the new C63. Instead there’s a turbo four. But it’s aided by an electric motor built into the rear axle, drawing power from a rechargeable and innovative battery pack nearby.
And AMG has chosen to make using this car, with its complex plug-in hybrid set-up, very like a computer driving game. It’s a major move, one the company believes will attract younger and more tech-savvy customers.
In total, the driver of the new C63 S E Performance can choose between eight different drive modes, including a customisable Individual mode. Driving mode selection affects which of the car’s four dynamic modes comes into play. And there are four regenerative braking levels.
But wait, there’s more …
Feedback through the accelerator pedal lets the driver feel the point where the full power of the electric motor is unleashed in the C63 S E Performance’s Boost mode.
It’s much like finding kickdown in an old-fashioned auto.
There’s one particular feature in the AMG that mimics digital gaming, designed to help drivers use Boost mode effectively on racetracks. Select one of the many circuits stored in the downloadable Track Pace database and the system will display in real time exactly where on the track going for Boost will shave most from a lap time. The growing library of global tracks currently totals 30. Two are Australian; Sydney Motorsport Park and Sandown, with more to come.
What makes the experience more thrilling than sitting in front of a screen is that the C63 S E Performance generates G forces. The digital tech is just an extra layer of sophistication for a car that’s been artfully engineered for savage speed. Its plug-in hybrid powertrain can deliver a massive 500kW. In Boost mode, naturally.
AMG’s engineers made extensive changes to the chassis. Compared to a normal Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the C63 S E Performance has a longer wheelbase, wider front and rear axles and new body panels to accommodate the new dimensions. There are much bigger brakes, too.
While the hybrid system’s electrical hardware increases weight to almost 2.2 tonnes, being mounted in the rear it also improves weight distribution compared to earlier C63s. Traction is better too, as it has all-wheel drive for the first time. Around a racetrack the new AMG is brilliantly, brutally quick. The acceleration is truly awesome, the handling precise and predictable, the brakes tireless. And the Boost-mode advice tech only adds to the entertainment.
Though the C63 S E Performance isn’t loud, it doesn’t need to brag about its speed through bellowing exhausts; there’s no way any earlier, V8-powered C63 will keep up with it.
Mild the hybrid’s turbo 2.0-litre raspy voice may be, but it’s not a meek engine. Its huge high-voltage electric turbocharger makes this engine the most powerful four ever produced for a road car, AMG claims.
Being quieter than its V8 forebears is just one of the factors that makes the C63 S E Performance a calmer, more pleasant car to drive on the road. In its everyday driving modes the suspension, while firm, is much more comfortable.
Excellent front sports seats, along with AMG’s specific steering wheel and interior fit-out, also contribute to making it a better daily driver than any earlier C63.
It’s also more fuel-efficient, while being a plug-in hybrid means electric-only driving is an option, though the relatively small capacity of the car’s F1-inspired battery pack restricts range to a little more than 10km.
This isn’t a reason to criticise the AMG. It’s not an efficient plug-in hybrid for those afraid to make the leap to pure EV. It’s all about proving that turbo four plus volts is tech to trump V8. And it succeeds.
MERCEDES-AMG C63 S E PERFORMANCE
PRICE $200,000 (est)
ENGINE 2.0-litre twin-turbo four; 350kW/545Nm
MOTOR synchronous permanent magnet; 150kW and 320Nm
COMBINED OUTPUT 500kW/1020Nm
0-100KM/H 3.4 secs
Originally published as 2023 Mercedes-AMG C63 new car review
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