Full disclosure—I wasn’t supposed to have the keys to the 2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S during the week that I did. It wasn’t due to some prior vehicular malfeasance on my part, but the C 63 S arrived as a placeholder for a last-minute cancelled loan of the itty-bitty turbo-tot CLA45 I was rather excited to evaluate. As far as consolation prizes go, a 503-horsepower, V-8 German supersedan is hardly a kick in the kopf, but both Automobile and myself are far from strangers to the C 63’s magic. This has to be the fourth time I’ve parked a C 63 on my street, so the needle on the “Holy moly!” gauge barely hopped off the peg when I began the experience.
Yeah, sounds ridiculous to me, too. All it took to burn off the spoiled-jerk routine was a click of the illuminated start/stop button, and the guttural blat of the 4.0-liter quick-firing to life. Even without the V-8-induced mental clarity, the C 63 S is worth a revisit, primarily due to a raft of aesthetic and mechanical upgrades levied for the 2019 model year. Barring a short launch program in 2018, this is the first time any member of Automobile has put some proper miles on the newest version of what has always been the sweetest spot in Affalterbach’s folio.
2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S: What’s New (For Last Year)
Here’s a quick refresher: for 2019, the C 63 family received the new Panamerican-style front grille, reworked rear diffuser, and new taillights. Inside, it takes cues from the four-door AMG GT and E Class with a larger 10.3-inch infotainment screen and optional 12.3-inch digital-gauge cluster, new materials, patterns, trims and stitching for the upholstery, and a new steering wheel with small, customizable buttons and integrated TFT display screens. Mechanically, the engine remains the same, but the seven-speed multi-clutch automatic gearbox is now a nine-speed, plus there are active engine mounts on the C 63 S, a limited-slip differential is standard, and the suspension is significantly retuned at all four corners.
We’ll get more granular in a bit, but aside from the new transmission and the suspension, I didn’t really expect much revelation; after all, we’ve driven the 469-to-503-hp sedan in some configuration or another every year since 2015—how much of a difference can these tweaks and twiddles make?
2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S: Excellence, Distilled
This refreshed car is not so much different as it is an exceptionally refined strain of the same experience. If the prior C 63 was a cold stein of your favorite hefeweizen on a hot day, the updated version is a pint of the same hefe, only poured from the brewery’s own taps and enjoyed while looking over a lush mid-summer Rhineland. Driving the 2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S is like having a really, really good day in perpetuity; every errand and every commute is handled with as much thunderclap aggression or quilted-leather kid gloves as you desire.
On the occasions when I head out to the mountains to evaluate a car, the mindless slog between my front door and the canyons provides both an excellent prelude and coda to the test, presenting an opportunity to experience the car in great extremes. Through the thicker congestion and over Los Angeles’ craggy pavement, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S cracked no teeth and powdered no bones, conducting itself instead with similar grace as a regular C 300. When left in Comfort mode, steering and throttle inputs were damped and effortless, all while the beautifully upholstered AMG sport seats, Burmester sound system, and Mercedes’ extensive array of infotainment apps and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto coddled me into a mindless lull.
2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S: It’s What’s on the Inside That Counts
Those are just the toys. The rest of the cockpit carries Mercedes’ incredible fit and finish that wouldn’t feel out of place in the bigger, more expensive S Class. It’s sometimes difficult to justify the price tags hanging on some luxury brands when a top-of-the-line Honda Accord or Toyota Camry possesses tech, materials, and NVH that surpass many last-gen luxury cars. However, Mercedes’ masterful application of material sciences and attention to detail puts its well-equipped cars in a stratosphere unapproached by anything costing less than six-figures, C Class included.
On my 2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S loaner, glossy carbon fiber covered most surfaces; in 2020, carbon-fiber trim is about as exciting as all-wheel drive, but it’s the way Mercedes shapes and finishes the material that impresses the most. The woven trim cascades down the center console, framed by delicate metal piping and clean-cut “AMG” lettering on the center compartment door that gives access to cupholders and storage. Above the letters, an IWC-branded clock is surrounded by similarly thin aluminum linework. A pseudo-corny brand tie-in for sure, but this stuff matters to more than a few buyers in this space.
2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S: Slick Steering (Wheel)
None of this is new—we’ve had the same sloped center console, IWC clock, and aluminum trim on the C 63 since 2015, but it’s held up tremendously well. The AMG Performance steering wheel is the newest and most prominent addition to the interior, purloined from the larger, much more expensive Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door. The design itself is slick, but the customizable drive-function buttons with integrated TFT screens are the standout feature. Aside from adjusting the drive mode and toggling exhaust, suspension, and transmission settings with a quick thumb-flick, the screen is also the only place to turn the traction control up, down, or completely off, just like the physical rotary knob found in the center of the AMG GT R’s dash.
2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S: The Power Prime Meridian
Finally, an on-ramp. Clicked into Sport, Sport+, or Race mode, you’re rewarded with the same metallic snarl and blackstrap-thick powerband we’ve enjoyed in modern AMGs since the 4.0-liter M177 V-8 first debuted. In the 2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S, 503 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque is the “just right” bowl of twin-turbo porridge, providing a vicious 3.8-second zero-to-60-mph scramble from a dig, and ongoing shoulder-cracking pull at highway speeds. These escalating horsepower wars are great, but the 2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S is proof we can dismantle the nitro-fed armies of the conflict. Pack it up, boys and girls—it turns out 503 hp is the prime directive.
2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S: Holy Handling
Well, maybe not. From the C 63 S’ composure on the tight, narrow roads that slither through the hills above Malibu, it seems 503 hp feels manageable primarily thanks to some serious engineering on Mercedes-AMG’s part. Aside from the bigger, badder (and much more expensive) AMG GT 63 S we tested at the last Automobile All-Stars, the C 63 S grips and corners more voraciously than any sports sedan I’ve ever driven. Despite electric power steering, inputs are well-weighted and very communicative, not to mention breathtakingly accurate. Aggressive turn-ins are borderline violent, with Mercedes’ infamously intrusive traction and stability control no-doubt working overtime to fill the gaps left by punished tires. Better still, unlike systems found on today’s BMW M products, the AMG’s ceramic brakes don’t feel slagged after a few minutes of hard use. Whatever those systems do and however they do it, it works.
Power out of a corner, and the rear digs in so hard, you’d think it’s all-wheel drive. Seriously, if this all sounds a bit breathless, I agree—from where I’m sitting this is one of the most stunningly well-sorted sports-sedan chassis to dream of. It takes a ridiculously confident car to get me to turn traction control off on the street, and this C 63 S had me slip-sliding my way through the hills with overtly manageable power-on oversteer.
2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S: Gearbox Gripes
If there’s a weak point here, I’ll single out the so-called Speedshift MCT 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission. It’s new for the 2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S but familiar in the Mercedes-AMG E 63 and S 63 models. On the charge or simply cruising down the highway, shifts are lightning quick; coming to a stop and starting again is another matter altogether. Approaching a red light at low speeds elicits some rather clunky downshifts, soon followed by a strange catching sensation as you leave the light. The latter feels as though the auto-hold brake function has activated—it hasn’t. Far from a deal breaker for most, the mechanically sensitive among buyers may need to take an extended test drive to make sure everything is up to their personal snuff.
Still, aside from some shifting foibles, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S is tremendous fun. If you only have room for one car, and it has to do everything short of towing or hauling a family while still lighting a fire under your butt during every commute, it’s hard to think of a package more compelling than the C 63 S.
2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Quick Facts:
- Small upgrades, big result
- One of the most well-rounded sports sedans on the market
- Addictive V-8 soundtrack and power
- Does everything well
|2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Sedan Specifications|
|PRICE||$76,695/$94,540 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||4.0L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/503 hp @ 5,500-6,250 rpm, 376 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||9-speed multi-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||18/27 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||187.3 x 72.4 x 56.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.8 sec|
|TOP SPEED||180 mph|
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