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C-class Coupe seems to be
a new product line to Mercedes, but in fact it isn't. Remember the
CLK-class running from 1997 to 2009 in two generations? It was the
direct predecessor of C-class Coupe. Since the last CLK came to demise,
Mercedes planned to replace it with not one but two coupes – a larger
and more upmarket one is called "E-class Coupe". Despite of its name
and its styling, it is actually built upon the C-class platform, albeit
with more upmarket features like frameless windows, convertible
derivative and Aircap option. Slotting underneath that car is the
C-class Coupe. Like
BMW 3-Series Coupe but unlike Audi A5, the C-class Coupe does not try
to pretend a standalone model but the coupe version of its sedan
sibling. It does get a faster windscreen and C-pillars and a 41
mm lower roof line, but everything underneath is the same – the same
wheelbase, the same suspensions, steering and powertrains. Even the
dashboard is identical to that of the C-class. Is it a little bit
Well, depending on your view. If all you want is C-class level of
everyday comfort in combination with a coupe look and a bit – just a
bit – more spicy flavor, then this car will be perfect to you. The
sparkles come from the slightly stiffer 2-door body shell, its slightly
lower center of gravity and the standard fitment of AMG sports
suspension (15 mm lower and stiffer). This mean the Coupe corners
a little bit better than the sedan, if not ultimately as agile as BMW
3-Series Coupe. No matter with the standard ZF-Sachs amplitude
selective dampers or the optional electronic adaptive damping, the
displays an edge to its German rivals (especially Audi A5) in ride
Consequently, comfort-biased drivers will prefer the
Mercedes. Keen drivers will still prefer BMW's sharper steering and
better balance, but they would
admit the C-class Coupe has closed up the gap a lot from the days of
Among the 5 engines on offer, we prefer the economical yet punchy
turbocharged four cylinders than the naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6.
Both the 1.8-liter
DI turbo petrol and 2.1-liter CDI twin-turbo diesel produce 204
horsepower and a lot of torque, enabling a relaxed manner in highway
cruising. The V6 is not bad, just don't expect the level of performance
provided by BMW 335i's turbocharged
The weakness? While the individual rear seats are reasonably
accommodative for sub-six-footers, access to them are not so easy,
blame to the small door apertures and the presence of B-pillars.
||All rights reserved.
| C63 AMG Coupe
For long BMW M3 has been
the benchmark and dominating force in the compact premium performance
coupe segment. Things start changing in recent years. On the one hand,
the latest M3 is no longer as great as it used to be, blame to its
slightly downgraded steering feel and agility due to the transformation
V8-power. On the other hand, its rivals have upgraded their effort to
challenge the BMW. Last year this time we saw Audi RS5, which ticked
all boxes except driver engagement. In the second half, Cadillac CTS-V
Coupe stole many headlines with its Detroit firepower. Now Mercedes
responds with its latest C63 AMG Coupe.
AMG is no stranger to this class. More than a decade ago it already
started producing CLK55 AMG. However, no matter that car or its
successor CLK63 AMG, they failed to challenge BMW M3 in the eyes of car
enthusiasts, because the AMG coupes always had their engines
overwhelming chassis. As a result, they were more suitable to autobahn
than back roads. Only the very exclusive CLK63 Black and CLK DTM worth
our highest respect, but then they were absurdly expensive.
This time is different. We know the new C63 Coupe has the
same engine and chassis modifications as the C63 sedan, which
already toppled BMW M3 in our performance sedan chart, so it has a good
chance to beat the M3 Coupe as well.
Cosmetically, the new AMG coupe seems to have the right ingredients to
win the beauty contest. Thanks to the power bulge on the bonnet and
substantially widened front wheel arches, it looks far more purposeful
than the standard C-class Coupe. It looks great in
details too, thanks to the grille, bumpers, spoilers, wheels and oval
quad-tailpipes unique to the AMG.
Inside, the basic layout is the same as other C-class, but it gets a
small-diameter flat-bottomed steering wheel and a pair of bucket seats,
both are trimmed with part leather and part Alcantara to improve grip.
Behind the steering wheel is a pair of aluminum gearshift paddles, also
unique to the AMG model. If not visually attractive enough, you may opt
for carbon-fiber decors on the dashboard and door panels.
Fire the 6208cc V8 and you will immediately realize its advantage over
M3: power. In standard tune, the AMG V8 produces 457 horsepower
and 443 pound-foot of torque, some 37 hp and 148 lbft more than M3. Add
AMG's performance package and you will get another 30 horsepower. This
is achieved with the lightweight forged pistons, con-rods and
crankshaft taking from SLS AMG. They combine to save 3 kg of rotational
Even higher output could have been achieved should AMG introduced its
newer M157 5.5-liter biturbo V8 to the car, but thankfully it didn't.
Actually, we prefer the classic M156 to the M157 for its linear power
delivery and superior sound quality. Even though it is already 5 years
old, it is still the ideal V8 every powertrain engineer would dream of.
It is the only V8 engine capable of producing 369 lb-ft of torque from
merely 2000 rpm yet revving easily to 7200 rpm, delivering a razor
sharp throttle response at any rev and releasing a NASCAR-like thunder
at full song. It is the most versatile and the most engaging V8 ever
built. If not the call for low-carbon emission, it might just live
for another decade or two !
With the help of such a wonderful engine, the C63 Coupe
destroy its oppositions. According to the factory claims, 0-62 mph can
be done in 4.4 seconds in standard form or 4.3 seconds with performance
package. Both are noticeably quicker than M3 (4.8 sec with manual or 4.6 sec
with DCT) and Audi RS5 (4.6 sec). Only the
Detroit muscle of Cadillac CTS-V Coupe might outpace it with a bit luck.
On the road, the difference between this car and M3 is even more
obvious than the figures suggested. Because it offers so much more
torque low down, it feels significantly more punchy in the real world.
Acceleration is instantaneous once you floor down the throttle, so its
performance is stronger yet more easily accessible than its German
rivals. The new 7-speed MCT gearbox is also responsive enough on most
occasions except upshift, thanks to the use of a multiplate clutch
instead of torque converter. AMG's Speedshift program offers four
operation modes – Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Manual – with different
levels of speed, refinement and computer intervention to satisfy the
driver. It is not as fast as a twin-clutch gearbox, but it is
definitely better than the 7-speed automatic on the original C63 sedan.
Furthermore, its Race Start launch control program makes a smooth
launch far easier to achieve than the super-torquey Cadillac, so when
AMG speaks of 0-62 mph in 4.3 seconds, it means what normal drivers can
Regarding handling and ride, the car is similar to C63 AMG sedan with
which it shares suspensions, steering and brakes, just a touch sharper
due to its slightly stiffer chassis and lower center of gravity.
Compare to the regular C-class Coupe, the front suspensions have
different geometry and virtually all components are unique to the AMG
version. This contributes to better roadholding and steering feedback.
At all four corners, AMG's high-performance fixed rate dampers replace
the regular car's adaptive dampers.
We have no doubt that the chassis of M3 is sharper still and better
balanced. After all, the AMG has a heavier V8 hanging above its front
axle. However, the defeat here is not big enough to ruin its chance of
winning the fight. What it loses in balance is compensated with richer
steering feel and a more powerful, fade-free set of brakes. In addition
to superb body control, excellent grip and livable ride (on standard
18-in rims at least), it actually gives the driver more confidence to
attack mountain roads. Better still, AMG did not forget to give the
driver full control of its steering attitude. Turn off the stability
control, find a fast curve and keep feeding the rear tires with its
deep reserve of torque, you will get a beautiful power slide.
The bottom line is, C63 AMG Coupe is not only immensely quick but also
hugely engaging to drive, no matter through your ears, hands or
foot. It deserves the highest regard among its rivals.
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| C63 AMG Coupe Black
The CLK63 Black series
launched in 2007 was a turning point in the history of AMG. It showed
that AMG was capable to produce driving machines as good as Porsche 911
GT3 once it determined to do so. To a performance marque like AMG, what
could be more important than a sporty image? With the addition of Black
Series, AMG can lift its
image beyond the level of BMW M cars and Audi RS line, while keep
earning the bulk of its profit by selling regular AMG models to less
hardcore customers. In this way, a two-tier AMG models structure is
Following the demise of CLK, the position of CLK63 Black is taken by
C63 Coupe Black. A scan through its specifications will find the car is
remarkably close to the original. For example, it runs much the same
6208 cc M156 V8. Its size, suspension mods and weight saving measures
are also familiar. That's not a bad thing, as the old car was praised
for excellent performance and handling and, best of all, highly
entertaining to drive. Following the same formula guarantees that the
merits will not be dampened by complications. After all, the only thing
really needs to update is not the old wine but a new bottle.
The new bottle is definitely more striking. While the regular C63 AMG
Coupe speaks of a gentleman performance car, the Black version is
apparently a track car. It gets much more aggressive air dams,
monster-size cooling intakes, air extractors on the bonnet, square tail
race-car-style widened fenders. The latter are used to accommodate the
wider tracks (up 40mm front and 79mm rear) and fatter rubbers
front and 285/30ZR19 rear). If that is still not enough, you may opt
for the track aero package which adds winglets at the sides of front
bumper and a high-mounted, adjustable rear spoiler – both are made of
carbon-fiber. The aero pack halves front end lift and reduces rear lift
to nearly zero.
The suspensions are not just lower and stiffer than those on C63 Coupe,
they are actually brand new. They feature race-car-style
coil-over-damper units to provide (manually) adjustable ride height,
camber, compression and rebound so that you can tailor the chassis to
the track for best handling. As in the old Black, each of those 19-inch
forged alloy wheels weighs nearly 3 kilograms less than the one on C63,
so ride quality and steering precision can be enhanced. Inside the
front wheel is a 390mm carbon-ceramic brake disc clamped by 6-piston
caliper. At the rear is the combination of 360mm steel disc and 4-pot
For track days, you will need the track package. It includes super
sticky Dunlop Sport Maxx rubbers and a rear differential cooler.
The M156 engine received the least modifications. Hardware-wise, it is
identical to the one on C63 Coupe equipped with Performance package.
This mean it gets the SLS-spec lightweight forged pistons, con-rods and
crankshaft for better high-end delivery. A revision to engine
management system raises its maximum output by 30 horses to 517 hp,
accompany with 14 pound-foot of extra torque. Compare with the old
CLK63 Black, it has a slight advantage of 10 hp but 8 lbft less torque.
However, the old car's 7-speed automatic has been replaced with the
more responsive 7-speed MCT. Its Speedshift program offers Sport+ and
Race Start mode.
Like its predecessor, the interior features lightweight Recaro sports
buckets and Alcantara trim to deliver a more serious message. The
deletion of rear seats also show its uncompromising intention, although
you may choose to add them at no extra cost.
On the Road
Predictably, the C63 Coupe Black is no quicker than its predecessor.
After all, a 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds (or 3.8 sec with racy tires)
and 186 mph top speed is plenty fast, especially for a car installed
with automatic-based transmission. It might lack the raw punch of its
turbocharged rivals in acceleration, but it rewards you with a
marvelous soundtrack and delicious linearity, something a hardcore
Contrasting to the tradition of AMG, this car has a stronger chassis
than engine. Its chassis feels effortless to handle all those
horsepower, thanks to immense grip, powerful brakes and rock solid body
control. The steering is quick, precise and well weighted, if not as
transparent as Porsche's. The car is well balanced and willing to turn
into corners, although ultimately not as agile as a GT3 RS 4.0 due to
its extra weight at the nose. Its cornering attitude can be easily
modulated by throttle, turning from understeer to oversteer at your
wish. At the limit, its attitude is far more benign than the old CLK
Black, not easy to swap ends when you abuse the power. The ride is
firm, of course, but it leaves enough compliance for road use, so the
car is far easier to live with than its racy looks suggested.
The only disappointment is the MCT gearbox. Its paddle-shift
action is nowhere as responsive as a DCT, nor as engaging to use as a
That said, the C63 Coupe Black is just as entertaining to drive as its
predecessor while being better mannered. A price of £110,000 is a
lot for the performance it delivers, but there are not many cars at
this price could deliver the same kind of driving thrills, and even
feel as special as the Black series. AMG is going to build only 500 to
600 units of this car (update: eventually 800 cars were built). Expect
they will be sold out quickly, if not