5 July 2024

Does being part EV ruin the new Mercedes-AMG C63?

| James Coleman
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Mercedes-AMG C63 S E-Performance

The Mercedes-AMG C63 S E-Performance posing for photos in Wagga. Photo: James Coleman.

During high school, at an age when I knew I loved cars but was less clear on how to turn that into a job, I did six weeks of work experience at a local mechanic’s workshop.

Between the bacon and egg rolls every Friday for lunch and learning the deep importance of new sump plug washers, I can still hear one memory if I close my eyes.

It was the evening a Mercedes-AMG came in for a routine service, a silver C63. It was on tomorrow’s to-do list, but with all the workshop doors rolled down and the place turned into one giant echo chamber, the head mechanic jumped in and started it.

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He may as well have lunged a crowbar into one of Drogon’s feet. The roar it sent out still sends a shiver of delight down my spine.

The head mechanic started that car quite a few more times while it was in. All critical testing, of course.

I bring this up because I get why sales have been lacklustre for the new Mercedes-AMG C63. It’s too quiet.

Don’t worry – it’s not fully electric. It’s a plug-in hybrid, combining a turbocharged two-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor. But the only reason for this, as far as I can tell, is so you don’t wake the neighbours when leaving early for work.

In the default ‘Comfort’ mode, you get in it, the screens light up, and away you go. And when you’re finished and open the door to leave, a message will flash up reminding you to turn the car off. There was no way you’d need this message in the old and rowdier C63.

If you’re gentle, the battery will last 15 km before it raps on the door of internal combustion and asks for help. This is enough to get you to the shops.

The graphic on the lower right displays how much juice is in the battery. Photo: James Coleman.

Mercedes claims an average fuel consumption figure of 6.1 litres per 100 km, but mine was more like 11.9 – or enough for the car to give me an eco rating of one star out of five. To be fair, I was in ‘Race’ mode for a lot of the drive, which also recharges the battery in literally minutes.

But what you do get from this arrangement is a heap of power. Like, V8-blown-into-the-weeds power.

On its own, this is already the most powerful four-cylinder engine ever fitted to a car, churning out 350 kW. Add 150 kW from the electric motor in the back and – quick maths – there’s a total of 500 kW. Torque is up at a staggering 1020 Nm.

Mercedes front wheel arches

The front wheel arches are flared to accommodate these 20-inch bad boys. Photo: James Coleman.

Press the accelerator flat to the floor and you’ll pass what feels almost like a button on the way. This is called ‘boost’ and, at this point, all of these numbers are pelting you at the horizon.

The old bi-turbo V8, with its 375 kW and 700 Nm, is starting to look a bit quaint.

I have to say I have never driven the old bi-turbo V8 C63, so can’t really compare how it feels. But I have driven the SL63 convertible with the same engine, and can say the new C63 could almost be the same car. Except that the C63 is larger and heavier, and therefore, more impressive.

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EVs are fun, yes, at one thing – not going anywhere and then suddenly going very fast. The C63 makes full use of this, but wraps it seamlessly in the theatrics of internal combustion.

For instance, in the manner of F1 cars, the turbo is kept spinning all the time by the electric motor to avoid ‘lag’, the disconcerting feeling of putting your foot down and getting nothing in return. Happens all the time with teenage children. Not here.

Just like the SL63, the C63 also employs four-wheel steering. At low speeds, the back wheels turn opposite to the fronts to give you the turning circle of Joe Biden on a stage but at speeds over 100 km/h, they’re all dancing in unison and turning the same way to give you maximum stability.

You don’t feel this until you glimpse the speedo midway through a corner and realise you’re breaking Mach 1.

Take it up to speed on a straight, wobble the steering wheel a bit and unlike any other car I’ve driven – which will wallow to and fro like it were on the high seas – the C63 snaps back into line.

Mercedes engine

Each engine is still hand-built in Germany by one man. Photo: James Coleman.

Lift off and the exhaust snaps and barks. The spine tingle is back.

Returning from my blast through the countryside around Wagga and back into ‘Comfort’ mode, it jarred slightly for the same car to now be making the whirring noise of an EV. It’s the shock you’d feel if a hulky gym bro starting whistling the Hampster Dance.

So, if the rumours are true and Mercedes-AMG is considering a mild-hybrid version of the twin-turbo V8 for its future C and E models, I won’t be sad.


Will the V8 come back? Maybe, Mercedes says. Photo: James Coleman.

But I’m also not sad now.

There is plenty more to like about this car other than the way it drives. It looks mean, with its swollen wheel arches and gaping vents. The steering wheel is equally meaty. And the cruise control includes steering assist, so on the deathly dull Sturt Highway, you can sit back with a casual hand on the wheel while it does all the hard work.

The only thing I could really fault is the boot space, which is tiny on account of all the electrickery underneath.

But more importantly, AMG was determined to make the C63 work in an EV world, and they have. Very well.

The starting price is up about $20K on the outgoing model. Photo: James Coleman.

2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 S E-Performance

  • $187,900 (plus on-road costs)
  • 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, electric motor and 6.1 kWh battery
  • 9-speed multi-clutch automatic, rear-biased all-wheel drive (AWD)
  • 0-100 km/h in 3.4 seconds, 280 km/h
  • 6.1 litres per 100 km estimated fuel use, 60-litre fuel tank
  • 15 km estimated electric driving range
  • 2111 kg
  • Not yet rated for safety

Thanks to Wagga Motors Mercedes-Benz for providing this car for testing. Yes, unfortunately, we had to give it back.

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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