In third generation form, the Mercedes-AMG C 63 gets a very different powertrain. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

With great power comes great responsibility and the Mercedes-AMG C 63 has taken this on board in MK3 form. Bravely, for this generation, the Stuttgart brand's Afalterbach performance division has switched to the Plug-in electrified powertrain that rivals will in future have to adopt as well. With that change has come not only greater efficiency but also greater power - and the 4WD system the C 63 has previously always lacked. It's a heavier, more complex beast these days. But, potentially, still just as addictive as it ever was.


We get it: you're sceptical. We were too. How can a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine credibly replace a 4.0-litre V8 and make this generation of Mercedes C 63 worthy of succession in this classic model line? There are other questions too. What's the point in it now being Plug-in Hybrid? Particularly as it can only go 8 miles in EV mode. Why are there now no coupes and convertible versions? And is this the beginning of the end of Mercedes' AMG sub-brand as we know it?

We'll start with the last question first. The answer is no. AMG is merely reinventing itself. For the time being, V8s will continue in larger models, but smaller ones will get electrified combustion powerplants like that of this C 63 which make up for lower capacity with an all-electric boost. And alongside all of this, a new AMG.ea platform will allow the development of the range of full-battery performance EVs that AMG will need for the future.

Driving Experience

How can a C 63 have a four cylinder engine? And be reborn as a Plug-in Hybrid? It all seems contradictory to the kind of car this was and hopefully still is. Well for a start, this isn't just any four-pot PHEV powertrain. It has a track record from use in non-EV form in the market's fastest hot hatch, the AMG A 45. And as a result of fiendish technical complexity, it develops more power than the old C 63's 4.0-litre V8, with a 680hp combined output.

There are other upgrades too. 4WD for instance - something the C 63 has always lacked and the continuing lack of which would have put it on the back foot against current BMW M3 and Audi RS 4 rivals. There's also now a full-electric drive-off setting allowing you to leave the house early in the morning without waking everyone up and annoying the neighbours.

Design and Build

As with the previous C 63, there's a choice of saloon and estate body styles. Visually, as you'd want, the C 63 has far more pavement presence than an ordinary C-Class. The need for extra cooling hardware pushes out the front bumper, increasing body length by 50mm. The bonnet with its air outlets is also unique. As is the front valance with its AMG grille and shutters that open or close depending on the engine's need for cooling air. The wheel arches are 76mm wider too, housing 19 or 20-inch alloy rims.

As with the standard C-Class, the cabin is a radical generation on with this model, thanks primarily to the huge MBUX centre screen, which here gains various bespoke AMG and Hybrid-specific displays. The instrument screen is bespoke too, gaining a 'Supersport' display style which uses a vertical menu structure.

Market and Model

We don't yet have prices for the C 63 S E PERFORMANCE but we can expect Mercedes to pitch it just above an equivalent BMW M3 Competition saloon with xDrive. One of those costs around £81,000, so an asking figure for this Mercedes around £85,000 would seem likely, with another £1,500 or so for the alternative estate version.

There are some key options that owners will want to look at - like the upgrade from 19 to 20-inch wheels, the latter with a really smart forged design. Numerous paint finishes and equipment items are also available to provide further individualisation. The AMG matt paint finish 'graphite grey magno' is available exclusively for the C 63 S. The exterior design can be further accentuated with the 'AMG Exterior Carbon Fibre packages I and II', the 'AMG Night packages I and II' or the 'AMG Aerodynamics Package'.

There are also many individual choices available for the interior. Exclusive colours and various nappa leather upholsteries with an embossed AMG emblem in the front head restraints serve to emphasise either the sporty or the luxurious side of the C 63 S.

Cost of Ownership

Obviously, the whole point of switching to a Plug-in Hybrid powertrain here is to gain extra efficiency and some EV range thrown in too for your commuting journeys, so you don't have to use the powerful petrol engine until you get to roads where you can really enjoy it. So how does Mercedes explain the fact that this PHEV model offers only 8 miles of range? It's somewhat disappointing given that an ordinary Plug-in Hybrid C-Class like the C300e manages a segment-leading 68 miles of EV range.... But to make observations like this is to miss the point of this powertrain. It's made for performance not EV range. Mercedes says that it's not even essential that C 63 owners plug their cars in.

The idea behind use of an electric drivetrain here is based around providing the instant power that the petrol engine can't. And generating efficiency as you drive, so even if the 6.1kWh lithium-ion battery doesn't have a lot of charge, you'll still be getting a benefit. The C 63's Hybrid system can regenerate over 100kW of electric power under braking to feed back to the battery; Mercedes claims that in 30 minutes of driving, you can completely discharge the battery and recharge it twice.


The previous C 63, launched back in 2015, changed everything for its maker, proving that AMG was capable of bringing us more than just sledgehammer speed. In its own way, this third generation version is equally significant, taking all of that car's performance, confidence and character, yet delivering it in a form that people will now find more palatable. Did you really ever imagine that a race-tuned 174mph AMG Mercedes would be capable of a 40mpg combined cycle return and under 160g/km of CO2? We never did.



PRICE: £85,000 {est} - on the road


CO2 EMISSIONS: 156g/km

PERFORMANCE: 0-60mph 3.4s / Max Speed 174mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: [saloon] (combined) 40.1mpg


WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: length/width/Height mm 4801/1830/1438 {est}