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Mercedes C63 AMG Black Series review (W204, 2012-2013)

The Mercedes C63 AMG Black Series is the hardest-core C-class yet, with 510bhp and DTM inspired bodywork

Evo rating
from £100,000
  • Looks, performance, hoonability
  • Too heavy; not as fiery as Black Series cars of old 

Another reason for BMW’s M division to ponder its position as Germany’s premier go-faster garage. The C63 AMG Black Series is another of Merc’s ‘ultimate ultimate’ performance derivatives, featuring a 510bhp V8, bodywork to put a DTM racer to shame and – on the optional sticky tyres – a claimed sub-4 second 0-62mph time.

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Lots stand out, but the Black Series' mighty engine is at the top of the list. Admittedly it doesn’t get dry sump lubrication, but otherwise this naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 is basically the same as the mighty ‘M159’ that powers the SLS, although it retains the C63’s ‘M156’ internal designation. New forged pistons, rods and crankshaft drag this C-class beyond 500bhp.

> BMW M3 GTS review (E92, 2010-2011)

Behind those gigglesome bodywork protrusions lies a massive increase in track width (up 56mm at the front and 84mm at the rear), while new Eibach springs and adjustable K&W dampers work through either a standard road tyre or an optional super-sticky Dunlop, which we tested the car on. Those tyres also drop the claimed 0-62mph time from 4.2 seconds to 3.9 seconds.

Inside the cabin the Black Series has been properly stripped for action with two fixed Recaro seats in place of the standard car’s padded leather chairs, plus a very racey Alcantara steering wheel.

What’s it like to drive

evo drove the car on the Laguna Seca race circuit – with none other than Bernd Schneider acting as guide. True to form, he uses every inch of every kerb in his SLS pace car and – although he’s clearly being kind to us - it’s a struggle to stay close to him.

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The Black Series is an extremely fast car, but even on Laguna’s short straights it never seems as quick as the numbers suggest. You can put part of that down to the stultifying effect of a race track – but kerbweight also plays its part. At 1710kg it’s a full 100kg heavier than an M3 GTS.

Good front axle grip means it never feels quite as heavy as the figures suggest, though. Power steering has been recalibrated to bring extra weight, but it’s easy to place and to manage understeer or oversteer accordingly. In slower corners the Black Series does struggle for traction, but through quicker sections there’s a sensible safety net of understeer, which is easily overcome with a decent prod of throttle. As you’d expect with something so potent, the combination of a standard limited slip diff and 285-profile rear tyres means you can pretty much light up the rears at will in second and third gear and, with a little steering provocation, fourth, too.

On road it should be pretty mighty too – in large part thanks to the automatic gearbox which means its no more difficult to use daily than any other C63. Apart from the need to negotiate crowds of gawping onlookers, of course.

How does it compare

The C63 AMG Black Series isn’t as sharp as either a 911 GT3 RS or a BMW M3 GTS. What sets it apart is its core character – it’s not a vaguely rationalised DTM car, rather a kind of potty-trained muscle car – and one that will give you more pleasure than any supposed rival at low speed.

Mercedes-AMG C63 Black Series specs (W204, 2012-2013)

Engine6208cc V8, petrol
Max power510bhp @ 6800rpm
Max torque457lb ft @ 5200rpm
0-62mph3.8sec (optional tyres)
Top speed186mph

> Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series 2021 review – crosshairs pointed at 911 GT2 RS

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