We've been here before, haven't we? AMG makes a momentous powertrain change, which is immediately followed by much collective hand-wringing from the enthusiast community as they fret about character and sound and throttle response. Precious few thought Affalterbach could produce a truly inspirational four-cylinder, remember; they also worried about forced induction V8s. Not all that many seemed hopeful about hybrid AMGs, either.
Yet here we are, with superb 4.0-litre '63 models, an A45 that makes more than 200hp per litre and a range of hybridised straight-six '53s that are really rather nice indeed. AMG has emphatically proven that it can deliver when forced to embrace new layouts. It's even gone so far as putting a flat-plane crank in a V8, which would have been unthinkable so long ago - and that hasn't turned out half bad.
But a four-cylinder C63? AMG will really have its work cut out to convince the world of its merits, even with 650hp and electric turbocharging. A C63 denied its V8 feels like a Tequila Sunrise without juice or grenadine. And double the tequila. The potency remains - in fact it's punchier than ever - but the sweet and delicious bit is gone. So what's the point?
Perhaps AMG will pull off another blinder, and it would be brave person to bet against them given current form. Though some scepticism is undoubtedly going to remain for a little while yet. Even before the C63 of 2007, the best fast C-Classes had always had a hellraising V8; there won't be many who preferred C36 and C32 to C43 and C55. Making great eight-cylinder engines is the AMG USP, its calling card even when obliged to diversify. So losing one, however powerful the replacement, is momentous.
Still, the bright side is the current V8 C63 has never been cheaper. Launched in 2015 to widespread acclaim, the W205 now finds itself as a £30k prospect, a point this car proves. For one of the best modern supersaloon packages, that's not a lot of money. And even if it'll take a while before they're truly in collectible territory, being the last V8 C63 at least guarantees its significance.
The keen will note this is a non-S C63, meaning less power and a mechanical instead of electronic limited-slip diff. As the only '205 with a £30k asking price at the time of writing, however - and not all that far off the last 6.2-litre C63s - this is the one we'll focus on. The standard car it's no inferior alternative to the flagship S, either.
When PH tried both versions at launch, this was the verdict: "One interesting conclusion from two days in Scotland is that there's probably little point in going for the S version unless you're planning for regular track visits and really want its electronic rear diff. The standard car is already a fairly expensive proposition, and - although it's a subjective call - the other benefits of ticking the S box are marginal: a power increase you'll never feel on road, bigger wheels and fractionally larger discs." So there. This one does have the optional wheels, however.
Though a facelifted version of this C63 is worth seeking out (primarily for the improved gearbox), there remains a lot to love about an early car - not least, a few years on, a hot hatch asking price. White may not be the most popular colour choice, and an M3 is a sharper drive, but a V8 C-Class has been an enticing choice for many years now. And, more importantly, for very good reason, too: because it's a spectacular performance car. With this week's news, there seems no better time to see what the fuss is about.
SPECIFICATION | MERCEDES-AMG C63
Engine: 3,982cc twin-turbo V8
Transmission: 7-speed auto with lock-up clutch (MCT), rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 476@5,500rpm/
Torque (lb ft): 479@1,750-4,500rpm
MPG: 34.5 (NEDC combined)
Year registered: 2015
Recorded mileage: 58,000
Price new: £59,795, before options
Yours for: £30,750
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