The best way of understanding Mercedes’ AMG performance arm is to realise that it has got an addiction to power. Of the bhp variety. This makes its job much simpler. It doesn’t need to worry about a ride comfort, steering feel or sleek looks; its focus is always the same. So when it wants to make its own version of the A-class, it gives the car more power. An S-class limousine? More power. The GL SUV? More power. It’s not a complicated recipe, but one that has had a huge amount of success: AMG’s sales increased by more than 30% last year.
So when it decides to improve one of its own models, there’s an easy route to take: more power. And this produces some mind-boggling performance figures for its latest effort, the C63 AMG Edition 507. The naturally aspirated V8 engine has been tuned to increase power over the standard C63 AMG from 457bhp to 500bhp. That’s now 87bhp more than the outgoing BMW M3.
It is also, apparently, more than the C-class’s engine bay can possibly contain, so AMG’s engineers have ripped out two slots in the bonnet to help cool the V8. More subtly, they have added a small rear spoiler to the bootlid in the saloon and the coupé that Driving tested. Even so, few people will notice the changes, so you have the strange sensation of sitting in something that looks like a minicab but has supercar performance.
The 0-62mph time has been cut by two-tenths of a second to 4.2sec and the speed restrictor has now been lifted from 155mph to 174mph. Fortunately, lighter, more powerful brakes have also been fitted because this C-class just flies.
With no turbocharger, the V8 gives a deep-pitched growl like it needs to clear its throat, then pins the passengers to their seat as it blasts towards the horizon.
In sport mode, the automatic gearbox changes down rapidly when you floor the throttle and does a good job of being in the right gear at the right time, but you’ll want to use the aluminium gearshift paddles (a note here to rivals, plastic paddles don’t cut it).
Gearshifts are quick, but drivers changing gears manually will still notice a split second delay between cog shifts. Change down as you go into a corner and the car will blip the throttle for you with a glorious crackle of engine noise then grip and grip some more as you turn the wheel. It feels like the Edition 507 could go round bends twice as fast as its driver would dare. Steering is precise and the car feels surprisingly agile, showing that AMG has paid just as much attention to the mechanicals surrounding its V8 masterpiece.
But it’s the thrust out of each corner that sticks in your mind. Even if you’ve chosen too high a gear, the car punches forward. The interior may be packed with gadgets, a stopwatch function for the racetrack and lined in luxurious leather, but all the driver can focus on is the rate at which the next corner is approaching.
But despite this, the car is never overwhelming. Unless you switch the electronic safety systems off, the car is easy to control while the ride is firm, but not uncomfortable – although that hasn’t been tested on Britain’s rutted roads.
The bad news for Mercedes is that these accolades have also been applied to the standard C 63 AMG. On the face of it, the £10,000 price premium for the £66,690 Edition 507 is hard to justify given the small performance upgrades. But if the point of AMG is power, then this C-class just got the ultimate AMG treatment.
Blisteringly rapid, as you’d expect when AMG tunes an AMG.
- 6,208cc, V8
- 500bhp @ 6800rpm
- 550lb ft @ 5200
- 7-speed semi-auto with paddle shift
- 0-62mph in 4.2sec
- Top speed:
- Road tax band:
- L 4591mm, W 1770mm, H 1447mm