The Mercedes-AMG C63 S squeezes in extra performance

The Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a sparkling sedan that squeezes a lot more performance out of the mainstream model.

The Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a little too Teutonic to be called a French delicacy.

And yet, its 503 horsepower does permit you to say: Look at that S car go!

(I'm shameless, I know. Can you ever forgive me?)

Introduced this spring, the redesigned 2015 C63 is the handiwork of the German automaker's AMG tuner shop, which squeezes a lot more performance out of mainstream Mercedes-Benz models - in this case, the C-Class sedan.

The C63, offered as the sedan I drove and as a coupe, comes with two engines and as many prices. The regular C63, powered by a twin turbo V-8 with 469 horsepower, starts at $63,900, and the S version, which ups the ante to 503 horses, at $71,900.

Both models start with the same four-liter, hand-built engine, which gets its extra horses in the S via the clever management of the turbo boost, the ignition system, and the fuel mapping.

All that horsepower and the fact that the S weighs under 3,700 pounds allow it to vault to 60 m.p.h. from a standing start in less than four seconds. Is that fast? Do international spies network in dark alleys?

As a matter of fact, it is what I call scary fast, which means it is deliciously exciting. It will paste you back in the seat out of the chute, then take you on up to a speed-limited 180 m.p.h. if you feel so inclined.

The optional performance exhaust system ($1,250) adds sound to the S model's fury, imparting a very satisfying carnivorous growl to the proceedings.

An interesting note on the C63 S's new four-liter engine: Its two turbochargers allow it to deliver more torque than the much larger, normally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 it replaces.

The nice thing about a factory hot-rodding project like the C63 S is its balance. This isn't some corner tuner shop putting a different chip in the engine's management electronics. This is top-notch engineers going through the entire car making sure that the rest of the drivetrain and the suspension can deal with that extra power.

The tester was equipped with AMG's quick-shifting, seven-speed automatic transmission, which delivered the power to the rear wheels via an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. The latter reduces slip at the inside wheel, allowing more immediate acceleration out of the turns.

Handling is also enhanced by the S model's high-performance, 19-inch tires. Electronically controlled shock absorbers adjust for performance or comfort, although "comfort" as AMG understands it is not your father's 1991 Buick Century.

Stopping is hastened by the employment of a special performance braking system. In the case of the tester, AMG raised the ante even more by installing virtually fade-free carbon/ceramic brake discs, a ruinously expensive ($5,450) option.

The AMG treatment also entails modifications both outside and within. The exterior touches include a special "A wing" front valence and a front splitter for enhanced downforce.

The tester's interior was as gorgeous as it was functional, fitted, as it was, with black and white Nappa leather upholstery and open pore black ash accents.

Special sport seats ($2,500) were as well bolstered as they were lovely.

Driving the C63 S was quite satisfying - and such fun. It cornered as well as it accelerated, steered crisply, and stopped on a dime and gave you an IOU for nine cents.

Thanks in part to its relatively light weight, the tester had EPA mileage ratings of 18 m.p.g. city and 25 m.p.g. highway, which are good numbers for a car that performs at this level.

The C63 is assembled in Alabama.


2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 S

Base price: $71,900.

As tested: $89,035.

Standard equipment: 4-liter engine, 7-speed automatic transmission, electronic limited-slip differential, rear-drive, high-performance brakes and tires, and a plethora of amenities ranging from Nappa leather to premium sound and heated power front seats.

Options: Includes lots of safety electronics, carbon/ceramic brake discs, performance exhaust system, and multimedia package.

Fuel economy: 18 m.p.g. city and 25 m.p.g. highway.

Engine performance: Lightning in a 4-liter bottle.

Handling: Superb.

Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper.

The Ben key: four Bens, excellent; three Bens, good; two Bens, fair; one Ben, poor.