2012 Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Black Series first drive
Riotous C-Class Black Series is a walk on the wild side
Chichester, England — The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a dependable and respectable vehicle. Order it with the firm's 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and it'll bumble around all day, returning somewhere near its claimed 6.4 L/100 km figure cruising on the highway.
We'll cut to the chase though: this particular C-Class coupe is a little different. It's sporting a gargantuan 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8, and it's crazy. Called the C 63 AMG Black Series, it's a tuned version of the flagship C-Class. Whereas the standard C 63 AMG makes do with 451 hp and 442 lb.-ft. of torque, the Black gets a hike up to 510 hp and 457 lb.-ft. That's a lot of power for such a compact car.
The increase in power comes from a host of changes deep in the bowels of the motor; there are new forged pistons and connecting rods, a lightened forged crankshaft and a revised management system borrowed from the SLS supercar.
There are also upgraded composite brakes, a freer-flowing exhaust system and some steroidal square wheel arch extensions to house the Black's extra-wide wheels. A massive air dam and chin spoiler conceal the three huge radiators required to cool the gargantuan tweaked engine, while an optional rear spoiler completes the look. This isn't a car for shy, retiring types.
Related link: 10 greatest AMGs of all time
Change is good
Will you notice the alterations over a standard C 63 coupe? Yes. Yes, you will. It's pretty difficult not to pick up on the addition of 60 more horses in a car weighing 20 kg less than its more normal (if you could ever describe an AMG product as such) brethren.
It's not just the motor that is immediately apparent though, even if it does lead the whole experience. That extra width encompasses a widened track over a normal C 63 — by 40 mm at the front and 79 mm at the rear — in conjunction with the car's stiffer springs and adjustable coilover suspension gives the sensation of a much lower centre of gravity.
The moment you get the Black rolling it feels more squat and more taut, like the springs are trying to pull the chassis towards the road — rather than just support the body — with the dampers fighting to keep some ride height.
It's firm, but not quite as stiff as that stolen-from-a-race-car bodywork might imply. The last bastion of ride comfort it isn't, but the Black mixes an aggressive set-up geared towards track work with an uncanny ability to soak up bumps. There's enough compliance to not have you inputting your chiropractor's address into the navigation's "favourites" menu; it really is a welcome trait. We tested this to the extreme on the UK's Goodwood circuit, pushing the car hard over the rough red and white curbs, and found the C 63 Black isn't the boneshaker you might have thought it was.
The two low-slung fixed-back bucket seats aren't ultimately as comfortable as the regular car's fully leather-clad chairs, but it's perfectly liveable, especially if you're willing to make a few small compromises in the name of performance. Canadians won't need to worry about this as the car will only be available with the standard C 63 seats.
The grippy faux-suede splashed across the cabin reinforces the message that this is a weapon for hunting down Porsche 911 GT3s, just in case you couldn't tell from looking at it. And you will be able to do that: if the Black's handling and ride quality is a pleasant surprise, the way it goes is a shock.