Double Apex was invited to the South African ride and drive event of the Mercedes-AMG C63S E-Performance. We sent our managing editor to drive the newest member of the AMG family.

This is probably the most contentious car that we’ve driven this year, maybe even the last decade. Plenty has been said and written about the latest C63S E-Performance and almost all of it has been negative. We went along to learn more about the new addition to the local market and to get our first taste of what the performance saloon has to offer.

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Sprinter in a Suit

Mercedes-AMG C63S E-Performance F1 Edition

Mercedes-AMG C63S E-Performance F1 Edition

The latest C63S is based on the W206 generation C-class. That, in itself, is a handsome car with smoother and softer lines than some of its predecessors. The apex C-class differentiates itself to onlookers in a few ways. First up are model-specific bumpers on both ends. The front has larger air intakes and rear boasts a quartet of polished tailpipes. The rear end also features a subtle lip spoiler and red outline of the C63S badge on the boot lid.

In addition, there is a racecar-like air vent in the middle of the bonnet alongside the signature twin bulges. AMG engineers have also added a set of massive alloys and a lowered ride height to the C63S. As a result the range-leader look purposeful, but not overbearing. Most petrolheads will give it a second or third look, but anyone else will consider it just another C-Class.

However, for those who prefer to stand out a bit more there is the F1 Edition version (pictured). This version, which is purely cosmetic, will be available for just the first year of sale. It features, among other things, decals down the flanks, 20-inch forged alloys, an AMG aerodynamics package and high-gloss elements in black with red highlights

You can read about the history of the C-Class AMG Part One, Part Two and Part Three by clicking these highlighted links.

Hybrid Power

However, it is what lies under the skin that has generated countless social media comments and endless speculation among fans and detractors alike. AMG has ditched the V8 from its predecessors. In its place is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that will be familiar from the ‘45’ series models. In the C63S E-Performance it sits in a longitudinal orientation. Power from the petrol engine is rated at 350 kW. That makes it the most powerful 2,0-litre four-cylinder series-production engine available today.

The ICE component is bolstered by an electric drive unit on the rear axle. The electric motor develops up to 150 kW. As a result, combined peak power is a massive 500 kW. The peak combined torque is a monstrous 1 020 N.m. However, it is worth noting that 70 kW of continuous output is on tap and that the 150 kW is only available in blasts of up to ten seconds and in ‘race’ mode on the drive selector. Traditional rivals such as the BMW M3 Competition xDrive have 390 kW and the Audi RS4 Avant ‘just’ 331 kW.

A nine-speed automatic transmission channels power to all four wheels in the C63S . This is the first AWD C-class AMG. Mercedes says the saloon can sprint from rest to 100 km/h in 3,4 seconds and that the top speed is limited to 280 km/h. Interestingly, the car can be driven for up to 13 km on battery power alone. It also qualifies for those preferential parking bays that seem to be popping up at many shopping malls since it can be charged from an EV charger.

On the Road

But, we hear you ask, how does go? We’ll get to that in a moment and address one of the biggest concerns of the new powertrain first: the noise. The previous two C63s were hailed for their soundtracks. The naturally aspirated V8, in particular, is one of the more awe-inspiring V8s on our roads. The newest member of the family makes NONE of nice burbly, growly angry noises. It sounds, for the best part, like a wildly tuned A45s. And if that is all you care about in a performance car, then this car probably isn’t for you.

Still here? Good. As we said, the engine doesn’t sound like much, but man oh man does it shunt. The 1 020 N.m makes light work of moving the 2,1-ton sedan (yes, it is that heavy) up the road like a proper sportscar. The standing standing acceleration figures are impressive, but the in-gear sensations are similar to full-on supercars. Mash the throttle in a straight line and numbers dial up on speedo at an alarming rate.

However, it is very hard to deny the laws of physics and this becomes apparent when the road ahead isn’t straight. Thanks to the power outputs the C63S can pile on speed between corners, but then one has to be aware of the overall mass when chucking it at corners. The brakes, at times, feel as though they aren’t up to the job. The AWD system helps on power application, but a smooth technique is require not to overwhelm the front end. Though we have admit that the standard rear-wheel steering does improve its dynamic prowess. The ESP system seems completely unobtrusive, which is quite commendable considering how much grunt one has your disposal.


So where does that leave us? Is the vitriol earned? Should you burn your AMG caps and never support the brand again? The C63S E-Performance is an interesting prospect. It is chockful of technology, much of it taken straight from the automaker’s F1 efforts. It is also extremely fast and a better all round sports saloon than the models it replaces. One would need to to have the letters “DTM” on your driving CV to drive either of the previous C63s as quick as one would be able to hustle the latest. If you are in the luxurious position of having the better part of R2,5m in your car-buying budget, we like to hear what you think. Let us know in the comments below.


C63S E-Performance – R2 476 800
F1 Edition – R2 776 800