The current Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been around for a minute. This generation debuted at the Detroit Auto Show in early 2014, and went on sale that same year. But the car still feels fresh, especially with updates for 2019 that improved the overall styling, added a bit more standard tech, and bumped power figures by a few digits in specific trims.
As for the hardcore Mercedes-AMG C63 S – specifically the convertible model tested here – not much has changed. This is still a brutish, powerful sports car with a twin-turbocharged V8 and the ability to hit 60 miles per hour in under four seconds. And even with some extra heft via the removable cloth top, the C63 still turns on a dime.
But that hardcore performance does require some sacrifice. The C63 S Cabrio isn’t a comfortable car – even with the adaptive suspension – nor does this Benz have the latest technology. Every C-Class still uses the old COMAND infotainment system versus the newer, better MBUX setup. And it’s extremely pricey – our tester costs $95,950 after options.
The S-Class introduced us to the current Mercedes design language, but the C-Class made the look mainstream – and it still wears that introductory styling well. Mercedes added things like standard LED headlights and a five-sided “Panamericana” grille as part of the 2019 update, but the C63’s core design cues from four years ago still hold up, even against attractive alternatives like the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Volvo S60. And the svelte C-Class Coupe, specifically with go-fast AMG bits, is the best-looking of the group.
But the convertible kind of ruins the car’s slinky proportions. The C-Class simply doesn’t look great with a cloth top. Not even our tester’s $1,900 AMG wheels or $1,080 Cardinal Red Metallic paint job, though beautiful individually, save the styling. And the $750 AMG Night Package – which covers the side mirrors, side-sill inserts, and rear diffuser in black paint – feels like a pointless add-on.
We much prefer the inside of the C-Class to the outside. It’s still a very nice place to sit – even though it doesn’t have MBUX’s attractive, seamless displays. Still, our tester gets a standard 10.3-inch screen and a nice-looking 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (a $750 option). Nappa leather comes standard, but the carbon-fiber trim piece down the center stack and costs $975.
The hardcore AMG models we’ve tested (like the GT Coupe, GT 4-Door, and E53) have a tendency to ride rough, and that’s true of C63 S convertible, too. Even in the most comfortable drive mode, the C-Class is harsh, and in any drive mode outside of Comfort, the adaptive suspension borders on back-breaking. Driving rough roads in this car might send you to the chiropractor. The too-big 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, wrapped in low-profile tires, don’t help.
The high-quality Nappa leather buckets, standard on the AMG 63 model, offer good bolstering and great adjustability, and ours wear a neat tuxedo-like Platinum White and black color combo. But the seats aren’t super cushy, which only exacerbates the Cabrio’s already harsh ride, and the back seats are tight comparatively. The C-Class cabrio’s 32.0 inches of rear legroom is worse than convertible competitors like the Audi S5 (33.1 inches) and BMW M4 (37.1 inches).
The C-Class still uses the old Mercedes COMAND infotainment system, but it’s workable. The home screen is easy to navigate via the nifty circular scroller controlling rather than the less agreeable touchpad of recent models. There are touchpad controls on the steering wheel, too, which allow you to navigate without taking your hands off the wheel. The head-up display (while optional) offers easy-to-see readouts of things like speed and entertainment, and of course, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity come standard.
But while COMAND is good, the latest MBUX system is still cleaner, better, and easier to use. Plus some features that come standard on competitors, like navigation ($1,250), a head-up display ($1,100), a wireless charger ($200), and the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster ($750), all cost extra here.
The C63 S convertible is a standout performer thanks largely to its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. While the “standard” C63 gets 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, the S bumps those numbers to 503 horses and 516 lb-ft – the latter figure peaks at just 1,750 rpm. And this car is genuinely quick.
Put the drive mode selector to Sport+ (one of four settings, which also include Comfort, Sport, and Race), prod the gas pedal, and hang on. The C63 S rockets off the line to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds with no lag and no hesitation. Flat out, it’ll hit 180 mph – wind in your hair all the while. And be sure to always click the little exhaust button to the right of the infotainment controller before you do take off: It opens up the exhaust and amplifies the beautiful V8 rumble.
Even with an extra 200 pounds over the coupe, the C63 S Cabrio’s handling is still razor sharp. The steering is weighty, the suspension is stiff and responsive, and the Michelin Super Sport tires grip the road like glue. Adding the $5,450 carbon-ceramic brakes ensures stopping power that’s equal to the V8. The C63 S can be a bit twitchy in Sport+ mode, though; throttle response is almost too instant. And the nine-speed automatic could be a touch sharper, given that the M4 gets a lightning-quick dual-clutch. But that’s nitpicking at an otherwise great performer.
The C63 S may get dinged for its outdated tech, but the convertible is at least up-to-date in the safety department. Automatic emergency braking comes standard, as do blind-spot monitoring and attention assist. Additional equipment, though, costs extra – and it isn’t cheap.
Our tester gets the basic Parking Assist package, which includes active parking assist, a 360-degree camera, and rear cross-traffic alert. That option costs $1,100, but it’s well worth it. The more advanced Driver Assistance package, meanwhile, offers things like adaptive cruise control with distance monitoring, active steering assist, speed limit assist, lane-change assist, and a few others. But our car doesn’t have that particular $1,700 option.
You weren’t expecting stellar fuel economy out of a twin-turbocharged V8, were you? The Mercedes-AMG C63 S convertible gets 17 miles per gallon city, 24 highway, and 20 combined. And that hand-built V8 does require premium fuel, which hurts its score. But it’s not terrible against the competitive set.
The BMW M4 convertible, with its turbocharged inline-six, only returns 19 combined, as does the C8 Corvette (coupe, not convertible). And while the S5 Cabrio is more efficient (21 combined), it’s also down 100 hp on the Benz – we’re still waiting for Audi to introduce a new RS5 Cabrio to truly challenge the C63 S.
The Mercedes-AMG C63 S convertible is certainly expensive – it starts at $84,900 versus the standard C63 Cabrio’s $77,300 price. Comparable convertibles, meanwhile, like the M4 ($77,650) and S5 ($60,200), are cheaper, but they’re also less powerful. Only the C8 Corvette convertible is both more affordable, starting at $67,495, and more powerful.
But once options come into play, the C63 gets rich quickly. Our tester costs $95,950 after add-ons like $1,600 AMG wheels, the $1,250 Multimedia Package, the $1,100 Parking Assist Package, the $1,080 Cardinal Red paint job, and a few others. And it’s not anywhere near fully loaded; tick every option box and the C63 S costs well over $100,000.