24 Oct 2013

Mercedes Benz C63 AMG Edition 507 review

Alex Wakefield reviews the Mercedes C63 AMG 507

Mercedes C63 AMG Edition 507
We’re probably about one year away from an all new C Class model finding its way into the showrooms. It says a lot about current model lifecycles, that 5 years or so is the expected shelf life of any car. Over the quite brief existence of this generation of C Class, we have been able to enjoy the C63 AMG, which has sat at the top of the model tree, casting a glow over the hugely popular run of the mill versions.

Despite the relatively modest dimensions of the C Class, AMG engineers managed to shoehorn a 6.2 litre V8 under the bonnet, and connect it to the rear wheels via a 7 speed automatic gearbox, with manual override function. The standard model boasts 457BHP, which you would imagine is plenty. But now, Mercedes will charge you an extra £10,000 or so for the ‘Edition 507.’ It may not surprise you to learn that it has 507BHP.

Everything about the Edition 507 screams power, especially in the Fire Opal paint of our test car. The wheelarches poke out, the bonnet has had two slashes taken out of it to assist cooling and there are comically oversized four exit exhaust finishers, all topped off with massive brake calipers showing through the 19” AMG cross-spoke alloys. It’s a very striking package, although the large go-faster stripe running along the bottom of the doors looks naff.

This impression of power continues inside after a few moments. Our test car had a pleasant duo-tone leather and suede upholstery but all is fairly standard C Class to begin with. The compact, suede rimmed steering wheel, flat bottomed and sporting a ‘sight’ on the top rim to let you know what way you are pointing, gives some clue as to the purpose of this car. There is also a ride control dial on the centre console and an ‘AMG’ button. Push the latter, and the car is turned into a monster. These take your attention away from the otherwise standard C Class fittings and fixtures, which is a good thing because some of these feel horribly cheap, such as the climate control rings and other plastic parts. Some of the dash is covered in good quality leather though, and the rest is formed mostly of decent quality rubberised material.

Once in, and bottom planted on the supportive front sports seats, a press of the metal starter button causes, after a short delay, the 6.2 litre V8 engine to fire up. From this point, you are in no doubt that this is a muscle car. On the side there’s a badge which reads ‘6.3 litres.’ It’s not actually, but that’s beside the point. In front of you, even at idle, you can hear, and feel the mechanical gnashing of 8 cylinders in vee formation, which sit just inches away from you. I’ve always thought as the C Class as a relatively large car. With the massive engine just ticking over, you start to feel small and somewhat intimidated.
Mercedes C63 AMG Edition 507

That engine is handbuilt by AMG, and each one has a stamp on top, from the person who signed it off. Ours was built by Marc. By all accounts, Marc did a pretty good job, because the car can barely keep up with the monster he was responsible for creating. Even a modest push of the throttle causes an intervention from the traction control. The rear wheels want to spin, pulling away from the Mercedes HQ in Milton Keynes, and we’re not even fooling around yet. A sense of respect is formed very quickly. Once the car warms up, it’s possible to push things a little further. The engine responds instantly to even delicate throttle inputs, threatening to overwhelm you very quickly unless you hold on tight. A beautiful, savage mechanical bark is emitted from all hot parts of the car – intake, cylinders, exhaust – as you try and guide it along the public highway. 100mph arrives in a flash before it’s time to brake hard because we’re not on a closed racetrack. 0-62mph is covered in a frantic 4.2 seconds, and the car will surge all the way to 174mph before being reined in by a speed limiter. The brakes need a good shove, but work well and inspire confidence.

As you slow down, the steering weights up as you transfer the load of the car into a turn. There’s plenty of feedback through that compact wheel and the front grips the tarmac tightly. The back end must be treated with respect. 507BHP through one set of wheels, in a car with a relatively short wheelbase could at once make for a huge grin, or a visit to a hospital. The margin between the two seems thin. Turning off the traction control would be the work of an idiot in these conditions. Keep the throttle in a more respectful position and it’s possible to thread this fearsome compact package through turns with ease, although the car never feels lithe.

It’s the result of such a dense package of muscle, like a heavyweight boxer who manages to dance around the ring, a sensation helped by the super slick 7 speed automatic, which can be freed up by overriding with the paddles behind the steering wheel rim. To be honest, those are there just to make you feel like you’re in control. You’re not. The car knows better than you. It’s probably better to leave it in auto and use your hands to hold on tighter.

When it’s time to switch off the AMG setting (and the ludicrous selection of race car dials projected onto the satnav screen), the car can be driven relatively normally. The ride remains very firm and that awesome V8 is never far from your attention, whizzing away just a short distance from your feet, exhausts occasionally popping on the overrun as you slow down. Should the need arise, call it up and the response is swift and brutal. Overtaking happens so quickly, you can’t even recall what just happened. But slow down again, and normality is resumed for now.

At the end of the drive, the heat from the engine bay can be felt in the cabin and outside, a haze shimmers across the vents torn out of the bonnet to keep this naturally aspirated motor cool. It’s the last outing for this amazing engine in the C-Class at least, as downsizing and turbocharging is starting to filter through the rest of the range. The new model will apparently receive a 4.0 litre turbocharged engine, but our experience of the smaller turbocharged V8 in the larger E63 AMG does not give cause for concern. Although the days of cars like this are likely to be numbered, the future is bright. But it’s hard to imagine the next model, with a physically more compact engine having quite the same visceral feeling of this Edition 507, a direct consequence of the magnificence of a huge engine fitted into a modest sized car. This is the ultimate C Class for now, just as long as you don’t take it out in the rain.

Article by Alex Wakefield

You might also like: