The Mercedes C63 AMG isn’t exactly a common sight on our roads, but if you’d like a little more exclusivity, how about this: the DR520. It’s based on the C63, but fettled at Mercedes-Benz’s Brooklands UK headquarters. Only 20 will be built in either saloon or estate spec, and we’re driving the estate.
What are the changes that create the new Mercedes DR520 from the C63 AMG?
Well, DR520 stands for Dyno-Rated 520ps. That means the Brooklands boffins have a rolling road print out tucked in a drawer proving that this C63 makes 520ps, or 513bhp. The base engine is the 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8, which produces 451bhp in standard C63s, and is also found in the E-, S-, CL- and SL63 in 518bhp tune. The DR520 gains the Performance Pack Plus kit that’s a £4.5k option on any C63, plus a new crank and pistons to yield that 513bhp total.
Elsewhere there are whopping great six-pot front/four-pot rear brakes, while Mercedes has wisely stuck with the stock fixed-rate suspension (the optional sports kit is too firm in the UK) but specified the optional (£1560) limited slip differential on our test car.
Minus the diff, the DR costs £63,680, or £9k more than a basic C63. Still, if we were going to spec our own C63, we wouldn’t do it any differently.
How does it drive?
It’s incredible. The extra shove isn’t particularly noticeable low-down – where the DR520 feels as flexible and burbly and torquey as ever – but the extra eagerness to wind round the last portion of the rev counter certainly is.
The suspension is firm and well-controlled while still compliant, the steering beautifully weighted and consistent, the brakes endlessly strong, the seven-speed auto gearbox smooth and quick – if not as quick as the oppositions’ dual-clutchers – and there’s a feeling of very high front-end grip with a strong rear bias.
Isn’t it a bit of a handful?
It can but doesn’t need to be – that’s the beauty of traction control and stability control. Leave all the systems on and it’s far from intimidating. Turn them off and it’s hilariously wayward: trickle through a junction in second, then feed in full throttle and the DR520 will ignite its rear tyres, leave a trail of smoke behind and swing from lock-to-lock in a straight line while feeling entirely trustworthy and consistent in its motions. Repeat the process in big brother E63 and it will only just start to lose grip.
What’s with the paint?
It’s a matt wrap. The DR520 starts life with either a gloss white or black paint finish, and the wrap is added at Brooklands. It’s very well applied and, if you don’t like it, you can always remove it later.
Rather than being stealthy, though, we found it drew attention, and it makes the red brake calipers stand out in a very tarty manner.
Any interior treats?
It’s business as usual with high build quality and user-friendly controls but with an added helping of leather and Alcantara on the dash and seats and some subtle DR520 logos. It looks and feels great.
No question about it, this is the ultimate C63, a car that can morph from family runabout to the most sideways thing on the street without breaking sweat. Shame that the wrap is standard and the diff isn’t – it should be the other way around.
If you can’t get your hands on one of the 20 DR520s, try to spec your C63 as close to this spec as possible.
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