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2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance First Drive: With a Name Like That...

The twin-turbo V8 is well and truly a thing of the past in the C-Class Automotive columnist: , Updated:

2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - On the track
2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - On the track
Photo: V.Aubé

•    Auto123 went to sunny Spain for a first drive of the 2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance.

•    The C63 S E Performance develops 671 hp, not exactly chicken feed.

•    The high-performance sedan is capable of driving 13 km in electric mode, according to the WLTP cycle.

•    The reign of the twin-turbo V8 engine is well and truly over in the C-Class.

Malaga, Spain - The name C 63 AMG dates back to 2007. That year, German luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz unveiled a high-performance sedan concept with a large naturally aspirated V8 engine. 

At the time, the sporty AMG branch’s new brute took the formula of the division’s revised C-Class sedans, but to a slightly more explosive level than its predecessors (The C 36 AMG (with inline-6 engine) and the C 43 AMG with V8 engine come to mind. Or, if we go back further, to the mythical 190 E 2.3-16 from the 80s, a sedan developed before the AMG era). 

None of these sedans managed to seduce fans of the genre as much as that new C 63. 

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2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Front
2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Front
Photo: V.Aubé

Since then, iterations of the performance sedan, a rival of the BMW M3 and Audi RS4 (especially in Europe as far as this variant is concerned), have succeeded one another while, at first, keeping the services of a V8 engine. 

AMG eventually switched to a much smaller displacement thanks to the addition of a pair of turbochargers. With increasingly stringent emissions standards and the appeal of electrification, sports divisions no longer have a choice. They must find greener solutions to satisfy government regulations while still appealing to fans looking for high performance from their sedan. 

Which brings us to the 2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance comes in. That's a name fittingly long for a potentially outrageous vehicle combining a plug-in hybrid system and a muscular combustion engine. 

But to achieve its goals, AMG had to make choices. Thus the V8 engine has been replaced by a turbocharged 4-cylinder unit. Rest assured, the twin-turbo V8 is not dead yet - AMG used the occasion of our presence in Malaga to present the new Mercedes-AMG S 63 S E Performance 2023. 

A big question: does this move to electrification alter the product? Another question: Will it actually bring new customers to the marque? The second question will be answered by customers, but as to the first, this was one of our goals on the roads of beautiful Andalusia. We were also going to head for the Ascari circuit, because testing an AMG model is always more exciting-we-mean-relevant when you can also do it on the track.

2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Three-quarters front
2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Three-quarters front
Photo: V.Aubé

A feeling of déjà vu
Let’s be clear, the new Mercedes-AMG C 63 doesn't stray far from the AMG mold. It would be surprising if it did. So for the uninitiated, it's hard to visually tell a C-Class from an E-Class, for example. 

The bumper, for one, looks like it was taken straight from the E 63 AMG sedan. The front end, on the other hand, looks great with its vertical stripe grille - the famous “Panamericana” - and slightly slimmer headlights. The lower bumper cutout is faithful to that of all AMG models.

There are a few things that distinguish this C 63 from previous versions. The hood is fitted with an air vent, and the front wings are now decorated with wire mesh. The inscription "Turbo E Performance" announces that this is not just a C-Class. 

Then, there are 20-inch wheels behind which sit huge disc brakes at the four corners of the car. Mind you, with a weight of over two tons, the C 63 had better be so equipped. 

At the rear, the usual formula is back with four rectangular exhaust pipes and a diffuser in the middle. Finally, the carbon-fibre spoiler at the end of the trunk is a nice touch, and let's not forget the LED running lights, reminiscent of those installed on the back of the recent S-Class.  

2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Interior
2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Interior
Photo: V.Aubé

A sporty and luxurious interior
The emphasis is on a sportier interior this time around, with stitching on the seats, rear bench, door panels and even the dashboard. There are carbon-fibre and black leather touches as well. 

And yet, the two screens are what really catch the eye, this even though the C 63 is primarily a performance sedan. 

The date screen behind the sport steering wheel is clear and responsive to the touch controls on the steering wheel. That said, I don’t find that solution ideal. At the risk of repeating myself, screen adjustments should always - or whenever possible - take place safely when stopped. 

This is even more true with the huge central touchscreen on which Is found a multitude of applications. On this screen, you can manage drive modes, navigation, fuel consumption statistics, radio stations and so on. Frankly, it's all a bit complicated! 

2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Seats
2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Seats
Photo: V.Aubé

Overall, the interior of the C 63 feels very good, even if some cheapish plastics have been installed in some of the hard-to-reach places.  

The front row sport seats are more supportive than the C's, and frankly, they hold up pretty well when cornering with great velocity (the sedan comes standard with rear wheel steering, mind you). This is another trick from the wizards at AMG to literally glue the car to the pavement.

2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Back
2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Back
Photo: V.Aubé

On the track... and on the road!
After a first on-road stretch in the Malaga area, the “real” test took place on the Ascari track, a marvelous private circuit. This is where we really got a feel for how heavy the new C 63 is. 

In a straight line, the combination of the 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (469 hp) installed longitudinally and the rear-mounted electric motor (201 hp) delivers a maximum output of 671 hp - and an even more impressive 752 lb-ft of torque. That power catapults the C 63 to outrageous speeds in less time than it takes to say the sedan's full name. Go ahead and try it: 2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance 4MATIC+!

The sound of the engine in Race - or even Sport Plus - mode is much more convincing than prior, with the automatic transmission shifting at a pace worthy of an AMG sports car. And even though the manual mode involves the driver a bit more, the auto transmission is faster than any human being. Still, I preferred the manual mode on the winding road home.

On that beautiful Spanish track, it was clear, meanwhile, that the additional weight of the battery and the electric motor have some impact on the sedan's behavior in such an environment. Fact is, the old edition was already a pretty heavy car, but it’s even more pronounced here. 

2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Profil
2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Profil
Photo: V.Aubé

In some corners that were approached too widely, it was difficult to find the perfect racing line, the weight of the sedan forcing it to the outside of the corner. But I also discovered the virtues of Boost, a function that dictates when it's most appropriate to overtake. At the key moment, a light comes on in the display behind the steering wheel to assist the driver. And at that moment, all the cavalry of the sedan is deployed and, believe me, it gets a move on!

At the same time, the sedan's steering, while not the most surgical I’ve come across, showed nice things during the two-day test. The braking system was also very competent on the road. At the Ascari complex, however, I could feel some brake pedal deficiency after five or six laps. 

Unsurprisingly, I preferred the drive back from the track, on mountain-side roads with lots of turns in quick succession. The Sport Plus mode is very well-adapted for this kind of driving with the adaptive suspension working wonders considering the car’s weight. 

Yes, we miss the V8, but this turbo 4-cylinder powertrain is great nonetheless, and the least we can say is that the performance is there.

2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Dashboard
2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Dashboard
Photo: V.Aubé

The final word
This first contact with the new C 63 did not disappoint. Of course, we'll miss the V8 engine, but the increased performance capabilities of this new edition speak for themselves. 

Yes, it's true that the dashboard is complex with its 1,001 functions and the weight of the beast is at the other end of the spectrum from anything Lotus produces, for example. But the C 63 AMG's mission goes beyond performance; it still has to deliver the goods when it comes to luxury, and in that respect, this car is far from disappointing. Very far indeed.

We like

The handling, despite the weight
The general comfort level
The amazing sound of the 4-cylinder turbo

We like less

The weight, enemy number one on the track
The steering wheel functions are too complicated to use
A tiny electric range (!)

The competition

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Audi RS5 Sportback Competition
BMW M3 Competition
Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing
Lexus IS 500 F Sport

Some of your questions about the 2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance :

When is the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance coming?
In the second half of 2023, definitely before the end of next year.

Who makes the engine for the C 63 AMG?
As with all other AMG vehicles, the twin-turbocharged 4-cylinder is hand-assembled by a single person.

Where is the new C 63 AMG built?
At the sports car division's factory in Affalterbach, Germany.

2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Logo
2024 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance - Logo
Photo: V.Aubé

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