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The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is luxury car with muscle

For 2012, Mercedes-Benz rolls out a coupe version of its C63 AMG. Of course, AMG is the German automaker's performance division. So think of this coupe as a Teutonic counterpart to an American muscle car — only with Mercedes luxury.

Appearance: From its gently sloping roof down to its subtle rear-deck spoiler, this low-slung coupe is a study in athleticism and style. The light-alloy wheels seemed to shine against the dark Lunar Blue paint of our tester, and both the LED running lights in the front and rear sparkle. The bold chrome-slatted Mercedes grille is framed by curvy, swept-back headlights.

Performance: The 451-horsepower hand-built, 6.3-liter V-8 rumbles to life when you push the large aluminum ignition button. It's a rush, and even more so when the chrome-finished quad exhaust barks on downshifts. Still, in normal driving, it makes for a rich cabin soundtrack. The C63 has AMG's adaptive sports suspension, which helps you to carve up the curves. The Speedshift 7-speed sport transmission offers Comfort, Sports, Sports Plus and Manual (Peter's favorite) modes. In all but the Comfort mode, the shifts are quicker. The downshifts are smooth, thanks to the transmission's rev-matching feature. Of course, all this performance (0-to-60 in 4.3 seconds, top speed is a limited 155 mph) comes at a cost: The MPG is an anemic 13 city and 19 highway. Also, be prepared to pay a $1,700 gas guzzler tax.

Interior: As we expect in Mercedes, the fit and finish are excellent. The cabin has carbon-fiber dash and door inserts. A panoramic sunroof covers most of the roof, which gives the interior an expansive feel. (The glass has heat-rejecting tinting, which is welcome in our sweltering summers.) Our tester's two-tone sand and black Nappa leather seats (part of an optional, $2,590 leather package) are firm, yet comfortable and well-bolstered. The F1-inspired steering wheel has a flat bottom and gives the driver good grip and feel, all the better to click off shifts in manual mode with the aluminum paddles. Because the C63 coupe is roughly the same size as an American pony car, the rear seat is cramped. Up front, there is plenty of headroom; we differed on the amount of rear headroom because of our varied heights. The trunk is large, however, and has a pass-through for longer objects.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Safety: Plenty of electronic goodies, including a drowsiness monitor.

Access: The front seats automatically slide forward to allow for rear-seat entry.

Downshifts: The exhaust bark is one of the great automotive sounds.

Lyra Solochek

Price: A lot of performance car for the money.

Seats: They hug you tight, yet are surprisingly comfortable.

Simple shifter: An automatic that looks more like a manual.

The bottom line: The C63 AMG Coupe has many personalities. In the city under normal driving, it's civil. Yet, when pushed, it has a definite wild side. If your wallet allows for both luxury and visceral thrills, then this car fits the bill.









2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

Price: $62,330 start, $75,665 as tested

Powertrain: 6.3-liter AMG naturally aspirated V-8, 7-speed Speedshift sport transmission, RWD

Horsepower: 451 at 6,500 rpm

Torque: 443 pound-

feet at 5,000 rpm

0-60: 4.3 seconds

Curb weight: 3,649 pounds

Dimensions

in inches:

Wheelbase, 108.9

Length, 186

Width, 70.7

Height, 56.6

Seats: 4

Fuel economy:

13 miles per gallon city, 19 mpg highway

Safety features: ABS, two-stage dual front airbags, side airbags and curtains, front pelvic airbags, driver knee airbag, brake assist, electronic stability program, drowsiness monitor, rearview camera

Website: mbusa.com/mercedes/vehicles/model/class-C/model-C63C

The Daily Drivers: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is luxury car with muscle 08/10/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 10, 2012 4:30am]
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