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2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Preview

2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2007
Critical Knowledge:
  • Third generation C-Class AMG

  • Sedan bodystyle, with rear-wheel drive

  • Hand-built 6.3L V8 rated at 457 hp

  • Three-mode 7-speed automatic with paddle shifters

  • 3-stage traction control that can be completely shut off

  • Mercedes claims a 0-62 time of just 4.5 seconds

  • Transmission mimics manual throttle-blip during downshifts

  • North American sales start in 2008
Introduction
The 1994 C36 AMG was the first cooperative venture between Daimler-Benz and AMG, a performance tuner ultimately acquired by Mercedes-Benz in 1999. With a 276 hp inline-six tucked under the hood, the first-generation C36 answered the challenge to its enthusiast-oriented competitor, the BMW M3. Three C-Class generations later, and fresh on the heels of an all-new BMW M3, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG enters the arena with a muscular 457 hp V8 shoehorned into the chassis of a compact 4-door sedan, generating power that is unrivaled in this segment.

Model Lineup
Mercedes-Benz offers the C-Class sedan with three different engine choices. In standard trim, the two smooth V-6 powerplants offer consumers luxury and economy in a well-rounded sport sedan. The highest performance version, offering nearly 200 more horsepower than the largest available V-6, is found in the C63 AMG.

As the flagship of the C-Class lineup, the C63 differentiates itself from the standard sedans by more than just a powerplant. The C63 AMG makes a strong visual impression, emphasizing the sporting intentions of this special C-Class. A unique hood, with two pronounced power domes, sits behind the trademark AMG radiator grille flanked by flared front wheel arches. AMG-specific body styling wraps around the muscular sheet metal with a front wing, side skirts, and a rear apron with diffuser. The trunk-mounted spoiler, set above the standard LED rear lights and dual twin-pipe sports exhaust system, is designed to enhance high-speed stability by reducing lift. AMG alloy wheels measuring 18 inches in diameter are standard, with 19-inch multi-spoke wheels optional.


This sportiest C-Class continues the performance theme throughout the passenger compartment. Driver and passenger fit into deeply bucketed sport seats with AMG embroidering in their integral head restraints-an AMG first. Active backrests, with adjustments for side bolsters and lumbar support, keep passengers in place during spirited driving. The standard upholstery is a synthetic leather/fabric combination in black or gray with high-grade leather optional. An AMG-specific instrument cluster, complete with red dials and specially calibrated gauges, displays crucial engine oil and coolant temperatures. A special three-spoke AMG performance steering wheel, with silver shift paddles and a race-derived flat bottom, completes the interior package.

Hardware
As one might expect from Mercedes-Benz, the C63 AMG is built on a traditional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive platform. The four-valve 6.3L V8 is hand-assembled by one technician, customary with all AMG performance engines, and it bears the signature of the builder on the engine plate. The result of the old-world craftsmanship is 457 hp and more than 440 lb.-ft of torque. Putting this prodigious power to the ground is a special AMG 7G-TRONIC transmission. Boasting seven speeds and three driving modes (sport, comfort, or manual), the gearbox is able to replicate an expertly driven manual transmission by throttle-blipping during downshifts. Mercedes-Benz quotes a 0 to 62 time of just 4.5 seconds on the way to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

The AMG sport suspension is a three-link design in the front, and a multi-link in the rear. Particular attention was paid to the new front axle. The track has been widened and the wheels repositioned to ensure lower dynamic wheel loads while improving steering and braking responses. The rear suspension benefits from a wide track and increased camber, leading to sharpened cornering performance. The electronic stability control is specially tuned for the C63 AMG's heightened performance levels. When engaged, the system actively monitors each wheel. If one of the drive wheels breaks traction, the system is able to apply brake pressure to mimic the control of a mechanical limited-slip differential. Three modes of electronic intervention, including "ESP OFF," give experienced drivers complete control over the vehicle. Bringing the Mercedes to a halt are four generous ventilated and perforated disc brakes. Six-piston fixed calipers are fitted to the front, while the rear is equipped with four-piston fixed calipers for high fade resistance.

Safety
Mercedes-Benz subjected the redesigned 2008 C-Class to more than 100 crash tests during development. Seventy percent of the bodyshell is comprised of high-strength, and ultra high-strength, steel. Compared to the previous generation C-Class, crush and deformation zones were enlarged and re-engineered. The energy from a crash is now dissipated over a wider area, further protecting the passengers from injury. Supplemental restraints include seven airbags as standard equipment. The driver and front passenger have front and side airbags, with the driver having an additional knee airbag. Rear passengers are protected by large curtain airbags that extend down the length of the cabin. Seatbelts for the driver, passenger, and rear outboard seating positions are equipped with belt tensioners and force limiters.

The new C63 AMG is also available with PRE-SAFE, a "preventative occupant protection system." Linked to several electronic safety systems on the vehicle, it is able to recognize impending crash maneuvers (such as under or oversteer) at an early stage. When activated, the system prepares the vehicle, and occupants, for an impending collision. PRE-SAFE is essentially a proactive safety system.

Technology
The Mercedes-Benz COMAND APS (COckpit Management And Navigation Device) is the command center for nearly all of the navigation, entertainment, and communication electronics on the C-Class. Bluetooth is integrated seamlessly for hands-free mobile phone communications, and the voice-recognition software has been improved to recognize even more spoken words for radio, navigation, or phone commands.

Design work on the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG began in 2004 as a digital model. The engine, drivetrain, cooling systems, and fuel systems were electronically "fitted" to the body shell to examine the concept and feasibility of the project. Within a year, AMG developmental vehicles were testing major assemblies using last-generation C55 AMG test mules. By summer 2005, C63 AMG test vehicles were dispatched to locations around the world for performance testing and development. These locations included the high-speed track in Nardo, Italy and the north loop of Germany's Nurburgring, one of the world's most demanding racetracks.


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