Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series (2012) review

By Ben Pulman (on-road photography by Greg Pajo) 04 January 2012

By Ben Pulman (on-road photography by Greg Pajo)

04 January 2012

This is the Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series, a £100k rival for Porsche’s 911 GT3, Maserati’s MC Stradale and BMW’s M3 GTS. The C63 Black has a more powerful 6.2-litre V8, unique motorsport-inspired suspension, and that Black Series badge isn’t just applied to any old hot rod Merc; there have been just three prior Black Series models, with a total of only 1170 having ever been built. Expectations are high, so read on for our first drive review of the Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series.

So how does a Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series differ from a normal C63 AMG Coupe?

Let’s start with the engine, AMG’s famed 6.2-litre V8. In regular C63 guise it boasts 451bhp and 443bhp, but in Black Series form it gains the SLS supercar’s forged pistons, conrods and lightweight crankshaft, and a new ECU, to push its outputs up to 510bhp and 457lb ft. That’s actually barely any more power (and actually less torque) than its predecessor, the 500bhp and 465lb ft CLK63 Black, but it’s much gruntier than the 444bhp and 325lb ft BMW M3 GTS.

It means three-tenths are trimmed from the 0-62mph time, but no more because the C63 Black only weighs 20kg less than the normal C63 Coupe – there are no ceramic brakes or carbon panels to save weight. But there is that coilover suspension, and massively widened front and rear tracks (by40mm and 79mm respectively) which nestle behind broader front and rear wheelarches (28mm and 42mm).

Which means the Black no longer looks like a C-class saloon but a hardcore coupe with big, butch looks: intakes and vents pepper the nose, the creased aluminium bonnet and the enlarged arches, and if you spec the AMG Aerodynamics Package (circa £7k and fitted to our car) you get a set of carbon ‘flics’ on the front bumper, a carbon front splitter and an adjustable carbon rear wing.

And inside the C63 Black?

At first it feels like a regular C63 Coupe as the gearbox defaults to Controlled Efficiency mode, pulling away in second and shifting seamlessly up to seventh. And besides the bucket seats and Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, it could be a regular C63 Black: the contrasting stitching is subtle, as is the carbon trim and small Black Series badge; and if you want to use it every day you can option the C63 Coupe’s standard front and rear seats instead of the standard buckets and deleted rear bench.

So, how does the C63 Black drive?

Like the best ever AMG. The noise is louder, the acceleration is harder, the steering is sharper, the braking ability is stronger (30mm bigger discs all round, to 390mm up front and 360mm at the rear), body control is better and the optional track-biased Dunlop tyres (yours for around £5k, together with active transmission cooling as part of the AMG Track Package) mean huge levels of grip.

Alas the trick MCT auto ‘box (a wet clutch replaces the torque converter) doesn’t always drop to the required gear even when you know there’s the requisite revs, but it makes up for it by performing changes in 100 milliseconds when you’re at full throttle in Sport+ and Manual modes. And the brief interruption of both ignition and injection to speed up the shifts means a monstrous crackle erupts from the quad pipes with each cog swap. And then the engine’s back to bellowing and snarling towards 7200rpm again.

It doesn’t feel over-engined and lairy like the DR520 C-class, but supple and fluid, and so thoroughly sorted and together that the changes aren’t instantly apparent. It’s not night and day different from the C63 Coupe, and at first almost feels too subtle, but there’s a big dynamic gap between the Black Series and the car it’s based on.

Verdict

As above: it’s AMG’s best ever car. And unlike the rest of the world’s motoring media, we weren’t limited to a handful of laps of Laguna Seca to deliver that verdict. Instead CAR had the Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series for two full days on the roads of California – read our exclusive drive in the new January 2012 issue of CAR Magazine, out now. See a digital preview of the issue here.

Statistics

How much? £100,000
On sale in the UK: February 2012
Engine: 6208cc 32v V8, 510bhp @ 6800rpm, 457lb ft @ 5200rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed MCT automatic, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.2secs 0-62mph, 188mph (limited), 23.2mpg, 286g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1710kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4764/1997/1388

Ratings

Handling 5 out of 5
Performance 5 out of 5
Usability 3 out of 5
Feelgood factor 5 out of 5
CAR's Rating 5 out of 5

Photo Gallery

  • Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series (2012) review
  • Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series (2012) review
  • Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series (2012) review
  • Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series (2012) review
  • Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series (2012) review
  • Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series (2012) review
  • Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series (2012) review
  • Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series (2012) review
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