We've been on a roll recently with the C-Class AMG vehicles from Mercedes-Benz over the past few months, having the opportunity to feature most of the North American lineup. One of the first cars I wanted to buy during my Mercedes phase was the W203 C32 AMG, and having the chance to drive it was incredible. The 4.3L V8 engine in the previous generation W202 was also more power than a small car should ever have, at least until Mercedes-Benz and AMG went all out with the W204.
AMG enthusiasts will have their own opinions about this car, but the W204 is the first C-Class AMG vehicle to come with a purpose-built engine designed exclusively for AMG vehicles. Unlike the previous engines used which were existing Mercedes engines tuned for AMG, the M156 6.2L V8 engine found in this 2011 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG was built exclusively for AMG vehicles. Cranking the displacement and power up is certainly the right equation for fun. The C55 produced around 360 horsepower, whereas the C63 gets to 451 with optional performance packages adding a couple dozen more ponies under the hood.
The engine is certainly one of the most impressive features of this car, and the power delivery didn't disappoint. This is easily one of the fastest cars we've had the privilege to drive on TestDrive along with one of the most handsome. Throughout the past few weeks that I've worked on the Spotlight episode for this car I've come to like the design more and more. The exterior proportions are spot on, and it's styled differently enough from the other vehicles in Mercedes' lineup at the time that you won't confuse it for other cars. The flared fenders and larger wheels also help with that look, but we love a non-AMG W204 just as much.
The facelift changes made for the North American 2012 model focus mostly on the bumpers and headlights. The round fog lights get replaced with an LED light strip and can be seen with the 2013 C300 4MATIC video we filmed back in February. The interior of the facelift gets a big update, but we weren't entirely sold on it earlier this year, and the pre-facelift found on this 2011 model isn't our favourite feature.
While the AMG gets stitched leather door cards, the rest of the interior is the same plastic composite found on other models. The wood trim looks great, and one that we'd always choose over a flat colour or carbon fibre, but the centre console media controls feel very cheap, which is one of the main complaints many Mercedes enthusiasts have had about post 2000s Benz' with the cost-cutting measures taken by the company. While we haven't had a chance to feature the E90 BMW 3 Series on TestDrive, we have driven in them often enough to know the interior on the BMW feels a bit nicer.
We've complained about the centre consoles on other Mercedes models from this era as well, like the 2013 SL550 we also filmed back in February, with the telephone dial pad feeling like a real callback to 1997. The facelift helps with it, but you're really looking at the C63 AMG for the performance and power, not so much about the media controls. Navigation is the same systems we've found on post 2010s Mercs, with this one hidden under the dashboard until activated. I'm not sure why this was chosen but perhaps it helps keep the screen out of the sunlight to avoid prolonged damage when parked outside.
The W204 C63 AMG is affordable to the average enthusiast now, considering they're just out of warranty and the chassis has been replaced by the newest generation. While prices are always going to vary on location and condition, we've found 12 for sale in our immediate area as of writing this article. The least expensive being a 2009 sans-Parktronic for $26,000 with 108,000km, and the most expensive being a 2013 P31 package for $49,000 with similar milage. You're looking at around $35k (Canadian) for a good example which is the price of a new CLA250 with halogen headlights and front wheel drive. I think the decision is pretty easy.
Watch our full episode of TestDrive Spotlight on the 2011 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG below: