In the German Touring Car Championships (DTM) the new AMG C-Class ensures exciting motor racing at the highest level, and now its roadgoing sister model is celebrating its debut: the new C 63 AMG. Its AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine develops a peak output of 457 hp and a maximum torque of 600 Nm – unrivalled figures in this segment.
Accordingly the C 63 AMG accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds, while its top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. In conjunction with an all-new front axle, speed-sensitive AMG sports steering and the new, three-stage ESP®, the AMG sports suspension ensures both outstanding driving enjoyment and exemplary handling dynamics. A combination of expressive design, a decidedly sporty interior and a high level of everyday practicality makes the C 63 AMG a unique high-performance car. The market launch will commence in early 2008, with UK cars arriving mid 2008.
With the new C 63 AMG, Mercedes-AMG GmbH is making a confident statement to mark the 40th birthday of the company. The new V8 flagship model is now the fifth generation of the AMG C-Class, whose family tree goes back to the C 36 AMG of 1993 – the very first vehicle developed as a cooperative venture between Daimler-Benz and AMG.
Merely the appearance of the C 63 AMG is impressive enough, with its wide, road-hugging stance. The new bonnet with its prominent power domes conceals the independently developed AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine, which develops a fulminating 457 hp at 6800 rpm from a displacement of 6208 cc. In this respect the C 63 AMG comes very close to the 470 (or so) horsepower delivered by the AMG C-Class racing touring car in the DTM series. This high output also benefits the power-to-weight ratio, which is a very favourable 3.6 kg/hp.
The torque developed by the AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine need fear no comparison either. The maximum of 600 Nm at 5000 rpm is unrivalled in this class, and the torque curve is equally impressive: from 2000 to 6250 rpm the driver always has more than 500 Nm on tap – ideal for powerful acceleration in any engine speed range.
Introduced in 2005, the V8 engine is installed in numerous AMG high-performance cars and excels with its thoroughbred motor sports technology.
Perfect cylinder charging is guaranteed by the vertical arrangement of the intake and exhaust ducts, as well as the magnesium variable intake manifold with two integral throttle flaps. Other high-tech features include variable camshaft adjustment, four-valve technology with bucket-type tappets, a particularly rigid aluminium crankcase of closed-deck design and the low-friction TWAS coating on the cylinder contact surfaces.
Among the particular strengths of the AMG V8 engine are outstanding responsiveness and enormous pulling power – by virtue of its large displacement, it develops over 30 per cent more torque than comparable engines in this performance class. Electronically controlled fuel delivery is another reason for the outstanding agility and responsiveness to movements of the accelerator. With its sporty AMG sound, which was designed-in during a series of sophisticated trials, this eight-cylinder powerpack from Affalterbach offers the unique excitement of a fast-revving, naturally aspirated engine – an audible and immediate experience whether at low, medium or high engine speeds.
In the interests of optimal reliability, the C 63 AMG has a particularly efficient water cooling system and large engine and transmission oil coolers. Located behind the large apertures in the AMG front apron, these coolers ensure non-critical operating temperatures at all times – even under the extreme stress of the racetrack.
Like all AMG high-performance engines, the AMG 6.3-litre V8 is built in the AMG engine shop on the traditional “one man, one engine” principle. This means that one technician is responsible for hand-assembling a complete V8 engine to the highest quality standards – which is attested to by his signature on the AMG engine plate.
This high-performance eight-cylinder engine has the perfect partner in the form of the AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC transmission. Equipped with AMG steering wheel shift paddles and three driving modes, the seven-speed automatic transmission allows a decidedly sporty or more comfort-oriented style of driving according to the driver’s preference. The different modes – “S” (Sport), “C” (Comfort) and “M” (Manual) differ in their shift characteristics and speed: gearshifts in “S” mode are around 30 per cent faster than in “C”, and no less than around 50 per cent faster in “M” mode. Pressing a button is sufficient to activate the desired driving programme.
The new C 63 AMG is the very first AMG car to feature an automatic throttle-blipping function during downshifts. This not only enhances the driver’s emotional experience – the almost completely jolt-free downshifting process also reduces the load-change responses and has a particularly positive effect when braking before bends on the racetrack.
The C 63 AMG owes its outstanding handling dynamics to the AMG sports suspension and an all-new three-link front axle design. The stiff configuration of the springs and gas-pressure shock absorbers ensures optimal road contact and low body movements when negotiating serpentine bends at speed. The new front axle has a 35 mm wider track – visible by the more widely flared wheel arches – and therefore ensures lower dynamic wheel loads when cornering. A number of features make for substantially more stability and precision in all driving situations: the redesigned wheel location at the front axle is 100 per cent more rigid, leading to a considerable improvement in steering precision. Another benefit makes itself felt when braking, as the new wheel location ensures an immediate response even under high dynamic stresses.
In combination with completely newly configured elasto-kinematics, the new wheel location provides greatly improved lateral dynamics and allows the driver of the C 63 AMG to benefit from significantly higher cornering speeds. A larger torsion bar stabiliser, new head bearings and dampers with rebound buffer springs further enhance this stability and precision. Steering feedback is also improved by the new kinematics. The speed-sensitive AMG sports steering has a ratio of 13.5:1, but feels more direct as a result of moving what is termed the instant centre of motion at the front axle. A more rigid Hardy disc in the steering column, as well as modified steering characteristics, make a further contribution to increased precision.
The multi-link independent rear suspension has also been thoroughly re-engineered, with a 12 mm wider track and more camber leading to improved cornering performance. Reinforced drive shafts and drive joints increase fatigue strength and round off the improvements to the rear suspension of the C 63 AMG.
The completely newly developed AMG sports suspension combines outstanding handling dynamics with the long-distance comfort to be expected of a Mercedes – which also means that the C 63 AMG has the characteristic virtues of a genuine AMG.
The C 63 AMG is appropriately fitted with new, 18-inch AMG light-alloy wheels in a five-spoke design. Painted in titanium grey, these high-sheen wheels in size 8.0 x 18 and 8.5 x 18 are shod with wide-base tyres in size 235/40 R 18 (front) and 255/35 R 18 (rear). Even more dynamic handling is made possible by the optionally available 19-inch AMG light-alloy wheels in a multi-spoke design. The front wheels are in size 8.0 x 19 with 235/35 tyres, with 9.0 x 19 wheels and 255/30 R 19 tyres at the rear.
Internally ventilated and perforated disc brakes all-round reside behind the spokes of the AMG wheels. The front brakes have size 360 x 36 mm discs with six-piston fixed callipers, while deceleration at the rear is by 330 x 26 mm discs with four-piston fixed callipers. The AMG high-performance braking system is characterised by great sensitivity and high fade-resistance.
Three-stage ESP® with Sport function as a new feature in the C 63 AMG The Electronic Stability Program ESP® is specifically configured for the dynamic performance of the C 63 AMG, which is the first AMG model to feature the three-stage ESP® with a Sport function. This system offers three different control settings, and is a logical further development of the AMG ESP® philosophy. The ESP key in the centre console enables the driver to choose between three modes – “ESP ON”, “ESP SPORT” and “ESP OFF”; the currently active mode is shown in the central display of the AMG instrument cluster.
In “ESP ON” mode, the onset of handling instability leads to braking intervention at one or more of the wheels, accompanied by a reduction in engine torque. Briefly pressing the ESP key activates “ESP SPORT”. In this mode the braking intervention to counter oversteer or understeer, as well as the accompanying reduction in engine torque, allows a higher dynamic threshold and, for instance, corresponding drift angles – which means that the driver of the C 63 AMG benefits from considerably more active driving pleasure. ESP® is restored to its normal function as soon as the brake pedal is operated, for example in corners. When the brakes are released, ESP SPORT reactivates – giving safe braking with enthusiastic driving.
Prolonged pressure on the ESP key activates “ESP OFF”. There is no intervention to control the handling dynamics, and no reduction in engine torque – thus increasing driving enjoyment even further. “ESP OFF” should only be used by experienced drivers on dedicated racetracks. In this mode too, operating the brake pedal restores all the normal functions of ESP®, as described above.
The system’s traction logic is active in all three ESP® modes. If one of the drive wheels threatens to spin, specific brake pressure is applied to create the effect of a mechanical differential lock. This means that the engine power is optimally transferred to the road.
It is not only in technological but also in visual terms that the new C 63 AMG is more distinctively different from the standard C-Class than ever before. The front end is dominated by the new bonnet with its two pronounced power domes, as well as the trademark AMG radiator grille with a central star and two louvres with chrome inserts. The honeycomb pattern of the grille is also reflected in the large air dams of the new, athletically contoured front apron which forms part of the AMG-specific bodystyling.
The fog lamps with chrome surrounds are spaced well apart, acting together with the flared front wheel arches to accentuate the width of the car – with the striking transition from the front apron to the wings leaving a particularly strong impression. The side air vents in the front apron serve to expel the hot air from the oil coolers. If the C 63 AMG is specified with the optional bi-xenon headlamps or the Intelligent Light System, the headlamps are also dark-tinted.
Eye-catching features when viewed from the side include the 18-inch AMG light-alloy wheels, the harmoniously integrated “6.3 AMG” lettering on the front wing and the AMG side skirts. At the rear the standard LED rear lights, the AMG rear apron with its black diffuser insert and three pronounced diffuser fins, as well as the AMG sports exhaust system with two chrome twin tailpipes, provide further visual highlights that are hallmarks of the brand. The AMG spoiler lip on the boot lid reduces lift and ensures greater handling stability at high speeds.
This decidedly sporty theme is continued in the interior of the C 63 AMG, which now has special AMG sports seats with integral head restraints for the first time. The seats not only feature a new design with cross-piping and AMG lettering, but also an adaptive backrest with adjustments for the side bolsters and lumbar support. The standard upholstery in ARTICO man-made leather/AMG fabric is available in a choice of black or reef grey – or as an option the interior can be further enhanced with particularly high-grade leather in black, reef grey or black/sahara beige. Perfect handling control is assured with the new AMG performance steering wheel in a three-spoke design, which has a rim diameter of 365 mm and a flattened lower section. The upper section is covered in perforated leather, and two silver AMG shift paddles enable the gears to be shifted manually.
The trademark AMG instrument cluster in a tubular design features newly styled dials, AMG-specific lettering and a new night-time design. Eye-catching details include the 200 mph speedometer scale, AMG lettering, red needles and the “6.3 V8” logo in the rev counter.
The AMG main menu in the central display allows numerous settings, with “Warm Up”, “Set Up” and “RACE” modes activated via buttons on the AMG performance steering wheel. “Warm Up” displays the engine oil and coolant temperature, “Set Up” the current ESP® mode and the transmission mode “S”, “C” or “M”. “RACE” mode makes the RACETIMER available, with which the driver is able to measure lap times on a racetrack.
Creating a new car is a complex undertaking, and this certainly applies to the new Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG whose conceptual phase commenced in 2004. This began with the fundamental feasibility study known as packaging. The new C 63 AMG was first constructed as a digital model, the engine, cooling system, fuel system, drive train and axles being “married” with the bodyshell to examine buildability.
In spring 2005 the first 1:4-scale design models were produced on the basis of drawings and computer images, and in addition the first testing & development vehicles were already built on the basis of the preceding C 55 AMG. This made it possible to test major assemblies such as the drive train, brakes and axles. The latest onboard measuring technology provided valuable data such as engine oil, coolant and brake disc temperatures – but other aspects of interest were lap times e.g. on the north loop of the Nürburgring, as well as measurable, precisely defined handling manoeuvres to provide comparisons between different axle configurations. These tests were accompanied by extensive aerodynamic tests on the bodyshell of the C 63 AMG, and it was only then that the final design was approved.
Following approval of the concept in the autumn of 2005, the first fully-fledged prototypes of the C 63 AMG were built. At the same time the high-performance saloon was also produced as a digital prototype. Computer simulations made it possible for the “real” development prototypes to exhibit a very high level of maturity during the first rollout. These simulations included the most important vehicle functions, such as handling dynamics, the engine and drive train, bodyshell durability, suspension performance, passive safety, the engine’s thermal characteristics and performance/fuel consumption.
The standardised and highly sophisticated AMG development and test programme for the C 63 AMG began in summer 2005. Over the next couple of years around 20 vehicles were dispatched all over the world from Mercedes-AMG GmbH in Affalterbach, to be subjected to strenuous tests in every climatic zone.
Test, analyse and optimise – that is the creed of the AMG specialists to achieve the objectives laid down in the book of specifications. Another decisive aspect was an ongoing dialogue between Design and Development, so that any necessary technical modifications were also implemented in design terms.
The major test stages at a glance:
Development testing of the engine, transmission and drive train
- Altitude tests in Denver, Colorado (USA), Lesotho (South Africa), Mont Ventoux (France) and Granada (Spain)
- High temperature tests in Death Valley, California (USA), Upington (South Africa), Idiada proving ground (Spain) and Phoenix, Arizona (USA)
- Driving trials in Los Angeles, California (USA)
- Cold temperature tests in Arctic Falls (Sweden)
Development testing of the cooling and fuel systems
- Various driving trials on the high-speed tracks in Nardo (Italy) and Papenburg (Germany)
- Trials in Upington (South Africa) and Death Valley, California (USA)
- Tests in the DaimlerChrysler wind tunnel
Development testing of the braking and control systems
- Brake testing on the high-speed track in Nardo (Italy) and the Grossglockner Alpine pass (Austria)
- Testing of dynamic control systems on the Idiada proving ground (Spain), in Arjeplog (Sweden) and on the Boxberg proving ground
In addition various endurance trials are run, with the aim of simulating the vehicle’s entire lifecycle under the most severe conditions:
- North loop of the Nürburgring: The car’s drive train, suspension, wheel location system, dynamic control systems, tyres and brakes are tested on the world’s most demanding racetrack.
- Long-term testing on different roads: All the components and systems are tested together in everyday operation. Loaded up to their permitted gross vehicle weight, the test cars are put through a precisely defined test programme on country roads, motorways and in city traffic.
- Endurance testing on the DaimlerChrysler proving ground in Papenburg: Extreme acceleration and braking manoeuvres with a high proportion of full load operation, making extreme demands on the cooling and fuel delivery systems.
- Endurance testing in the Swabian Alb region: The vehicles are loaded up to their permitted gross vehicle weight and driven on country roads with numerous uphill and downhill gradients, placing extreme loads on the transmission and drive train.
- “Heide” endurance testing: (named after the poor post-war roads across the “Lüneburger Heide”): 2000 kilometres of extreme trials on the test track or on state-of-the-art test rigs. In this case the focus of the developers is on the durability of the drive train components, the entire bodyshell and the integral subframe on which the front axle, steering and engine are mounted. The test cars are loaded up to their permitted gross vehicle weight.
These tests are supplemented with extensive crash simulations and real crash tests, to provide the necessary evidence for country-specific certifications without which no registration would be possible. The end result is final vehicle approval – the green light for the launch of the C 63 AMG.