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August 10, 2008

Traveling in a Family Way: 2008 Mercedes-Benz AMG C63

C63amgfrontaction What do you give to the man who already has it all? By now, the Jerry Garcia tie you gave him on Father's day has been stained, and the Zero Haliburton briefcase has been dented.  If you're looking for another chance to show the man in your life how much you love him, consider the 2008 Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 sedan: There aren't many cars that will allow you to strap two kids in carseats into the back and also get you from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. Not that we recommend doing both at the same time, mind you; but for those discerning Dads who desire pure performance as well as luxurious functionality, the new C63 is an excellent choice.

Based on the third-generation 2008 C-Class, this model has been revised and retuned by AMG (the performance division of Mercedes-Benz) to provide the ultimate in sporty performance, offering acceleration and handling that are unparalleled in its class and price range.

C63amg3735_rear The 6.3-liter V-8 engine boasts 451 horsepower (which Mercedes says is the highest in its segment) and is limited to 155 mph (when equipped with the Sport Edition upgrade it is capable of surpassing 180 mph). Powerful 14.2-inch-front and 13-inch-rear disc brakes can bring it from 60 mph to a stop in just over 100 feet. Trust me: these are figures any father will appreciate.

C63amg108wave1Its SpeedShift Plus seven-speed automatic transmission offers steering-wheel-mounted paddleshifters and three driving modes to allow Dad to choose between a sporty or more comfort-oriented style of driving. Its Electronic Stability Program (ESP) allows him to choose between three ESP modes: one which offers the highest level of traction and handling controls to ensure maximum safety in limited-traction situations; a Sport mode that allows increased drift angles before engaging; and ESP off, which prevents interference under high-performance driving. While the majority of drivers will spend most of their time with the ESP on, ESP Sport mode boosts high-performance enjoyment for spirited driving; Mercedes suggests ESP Off should be reserved for driving under controlled circumstances, such as private tracks or club racing courses. Firebird_racetrack As part of our review, we raced dozens of hotlaps around Arizona's Firebird Raceway short track, and, no matter how hard we pushed it, not once did the ESP allow the Mercedes to spin or break off the track - amazing!

Speaking of high-performance driving, AMG provides opportunities to experience these vehicles in their full glory at AMG Challenge events where professional race drivers teach high-performance driving skills and allow drivers to experience the twists and turns of first-class racetracks from behind the wheel of a range of Mercedes-Benz AMG-tuned vehicles. If Racer Dad wants to truly explore the unbridled power of his AMG vehicle, more information can be found at www.mbusa.com/amgchallenge (invitation code AMGJ3).

For day-to-day family transportation, the AMG C63 offers the same safety features found in the standard Mercedes-Benz C-Class, including six standard airbags (driver and passenger front and side airbags, and rear sidebags), four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake force distribution system, and tire pressure monitoring system. Adaptive brakes offer a start-off assist on hills to prevent rolling backwards on upgrades, maintain periodic contact with the rotors to keep them dry in wet weather, and adjust responsiveness when reacting to critical braking maneuvers. The back seat is roomy enough for average-sized adults and lanky adolescents, and offers two sets of LATCH anchors and three tethers for carseats; you can install any brand, but Mercedes also offers bespoke carseats as part of their accessory lineup.

Mercedesbenz_c63_amginterior On a purely practical level, an air-conditioned glovebox will make this car the preferred shuttle for ice-cream runs. The rear seats split and fold 60/40 to accommodate access for bulky storage in the trunk; two package hooks inside will help keep cargo from rolling around when Dad gets a little too happy with the go-pedal. The trunk appears large, though it offers just 12.4 cubic feet of storage, which is about four shoeboxes or two grocery bags smaller than a Honda Accord. The center console holds two cupholders, while a fold-down armrest in the backseat holds two more. One power point is located in the front and another is in the rear.

Suggested retail for this sophisticated sports sedan starts at $54,625, and includes a power glass sunroof, heated seats, dual-zone climate control, SIRIUS satellite radio, split folding rear seats, as well as a COMAND (COckpit Management And Navigation Device) system controls nearly all of the entertainment, communications, and navigation operation; a Bluetooth interface also wirelessly connects the driver's mobile phone into the system. An optional multimedia package ($2950) adds a 7-inch retractable video display, six-disc CD/DVD changer, harman/kardon LOGIC7 audio system, PCMCIA data slot, and voice controls for hands-free COMAND operation.

Ifdaddrivesthiscar_2 Additional luxury upgrades offer a power rear window shade, nappa leather upholstery, memory seats, Bi-Xenon headlights, and heated headlight washers. The most appealing upgrade is the AMG Performance package that will be available on 2009 models: for $3900, it adds an AMG performance steering wheel, compound brakes, performance suspension, limited-slip differential, as well as an additional 30 mph on the top end of the speedometer. Fully loaded, you could potentially spend just over $66,500; compared to the suggested price of its primary competitors it still comes in below a similarly optioned BMW M3, and just under the base price of the Audi RS4.

Fuel economy is rated at 12 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, but if Dad drives this enthusiastic sedan with vigor, he won't achieve those numbers. Nor will he care! 

Brandy_schaffels_s_2 By Brandy Schaffels
AskPatty Editor

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