America loves a -AMG. The U.S. is the world's single largest market for Daimler's performance brand, and for the 2019 model year, Stuttgart is repaying the love by offering Americans even more AMG goodness. That includes six flavors of go-fast C-Class, all unveiled at this year's New York auto show.
The can be had in sedan, coupe, and cabriolet body styles, each with AMG's 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 making either 469 hp and 479 lb-ft or 503 hp and 516 lb-ft, depending on whether you choose the S trim. The only available transmission, however, is AMG's nine-speed Speedshift automatic. Although on the surface the new C 63 family only offers a slightly more compact, slightly less extreme take on the thundering 603-hp, all-wheel-drive E 63 S, its appeal is somewhat more nuanced than that: These are the only cars in the segment that offer both a V-8 engine and rear-wheel drive.
New can be identified by the vertical-blade grille that now denotes the highest-performance AMG variants. Inside is a new steering wheel and revised instrumentation, including a 12.3-inch digital dash that can be configured in one of three AMG-specific display modes—Classic, Progressive, and Sport. Cars fitted with the 503-hp engine get S badging, a diffuser-style rear bumper, and dynamic engine mounts to help improve the chassis' precision without increasing noise, vibration, and harshness.
The nine-speed automatic transmission, which features a wet clutch in place of a torque converter, has been tuned to deliver faster shifts. The transmission is also programmed to always start in first gear to deliver quicker acceleration, even under light throttle. In Sport and Sport+ modes, it also matches revs on downshifts.
Power gets sent to the rear wheels via an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. Adaptive damping is standard, and damper rates can be changed between Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes. Speed-sensitive variable-ratio steering switches between Comfort and Sport settings depending on which drive mode has been selected.
Configurability is a key element of the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C 63 models. Depending on the engine, drivers can choose from up to six drive modes, with a new Slippery mode to help stability and traction under low-friction conditions.
So is accountability: The AMG Track Pace system—standard on the 503-hp C 63 S models, optional on the 469-hp C 63 version—can log more than 80 vehicle-specific data sets 10 times a second. Drivers can then use the data to analyze specific laps to find areas where they can improve their performance. Oh, and you can't cheat your way to a quicker lap time: The Track Pace system is linked to the car's GPS and can detect whether you've taken a shortcut.
Pricing for the Mercedes-AMG C 63 lineup will be announced in the fall, with the first cars expected to arrive in the U.S. early 2019.