What you give up when you buy the kind of crossover or minivan you think you need because you have a kid is a pretty intangible thing. Whatever you end up buying will get you and your kid where you need to go no problem, but it's clear you gave up something. Whatever that something is, the AMG C63 Edition 507 is absolutely drowning in it.
There's different names for whatever that is — cool, style, presence, character, sex, whatever. It's not exactly any of those things, really, but it's some intangible quality that you feel deep down in your gut when you're around the car. It's something you don't feel in a Kia Sedona, or even an expensive BMW SUV that's technically quick and handles well. But this hefty, matte-grey, imposing-looking coupé from Mercedes and their reprobate brother AMG — this has it.
It better, after all. The car I was given to try out stickers for well over $90 grand, and by any normal laws or credit checks I shouldn't even be allowed to metabolize within 50 feet of this car. Happily, our universe is much more screwed up than that, so I had a pretty glorious week with this car and my little boy.
Just to cut the tension, you absolutely can use the AMG C63 as your baby/toddler/kid hauling vehicle. It's not particularly great in this role, but it's surprisingly not that bad, either, and you'll find that a judicious sacrifice on the Altar of Convenience will make the gods in the Pantheon of Driving on the cloudy top of Mount Badass very happy indeed.
Let's just cover some of the basics of this car — happily Mercedes-Benz' coded naming system tells you a lot of what you need to know right up front. The C means it's a C-Class, the 63 refers to the massive 6.3 liter V8 (I know, I know, it's really 6.2) growling under that vented hood, and the 'Edition 507' part reveals the horsepower of the car: 507 snarly Teutonic horses.
I always think BMW when I hear the number 507, so equating it to this car always throws me a bit of a loop. Couldn't they have squeezed one more pony out of this, so we wouldn't keep reusing the same numbers? I mean, it's not as bad as 911 (Porsche, emergency phone number, date of terrorist act) but still.
The press car I got was in this really lovely matte grey finish, which is a pricey option but really makes the car stand out, and manages to let both the chrome brightwork and the black detailing and 70s-style tape stripes pop in a very effective way. It's not really a beautiful car, as such, but it's definitely a handsome car. There's a difference.
The car feels and looks purposeful, and AMG's tweaks are visually evident, especially in the wheels, with their bright red brake calipers and a rear tire that looks like a coat of black plasti-dip painted on that massive wheel. For a coupé, it's not really a small car, crouching low and long and wide.
The hood's quite long and the visibility at the corners of the car isn't all that great, but to (more than) compensate for this, Mercedes includes a sonar-type system that uses four linear arrays of LEDs (two visible on the top of dash, two more viewable above the rear window) that show how far the car's corners are from whacking into things or animals or whatever. It makes pretty shrill beeps when it gets nervous, but it's quite useful.
Driving the C63 is a really, really satisfying experience. The car's character changes dramatically with a twist of the little knob that takes you from Comfort to Sport to Sport+, and the car proves itself to be good in all these modes. Comfort gives you a comfortable (duh), fast, stable, GT highway cruiser. Great acceleration, suspension that's heard of performance but isn't interested in forcing you to talk about it.
Move into one of the S's on the dial, and everything tightens up. Suspension becomes much firmer, steering becomes quicker, and throttle response goes from impressive to pants-moisteningly quick. And the sound — the sound when you prod that stable of over 500 horses is throaty, rumbly, and just wonderful. It's like the sound I imagine Cerberus would make if you tried to take three bones away from his three mouths.
I'm writing this and just now realizing that this is a Will It Baby article — I need to tell you how this elegant brute, this gorilla in a very expensive suit, deals with a toddler. Most importantly, Otto loved being in this car. The interior is attractive and, thankfully, not a sea of black — the seats are two-tone white and black leather that sort of resemble athletic, color-reversed penguins.
The rear seat is canted back and is low, but surprisingly roomy. Not so much for legroom, but the seat itself is deep and wide, and the baby seat fits in there very nicely. The child seat LATCH system is really well implemented, with clever velcro covers over the latches, which are very easy to access and well exposed when the cover is removed. This is a big deal.
The rear window line is a bit high, but this is more than made up for by the full-glass sunroof, which I've found to be a huge plus for a kid-hauling car. Have you ever looked up at the trees and sky while driving? It's almost hypnotic, and when you have a cranky toddler, sometimes that's the trigger that gets him off to sleep.
This is also the first car I've had where I really used the concierge features, thanks to my wife locking the keys in the trunk after a whole-family trip to the Y. Stuck in a parking lot with a tired, swimming-pool wet three year old isn't a really good time, but the operators were very patient. Even though I didn't have the PIN code needed to unlock the car, and the press fleet folks took a while to find it, she stayed on the line and indulged me guessing (if you're wondering, the code is NOT the birthday of Mercedes Jellinek). Eventually, codes were found and the car was instantly unlocked remotely.
The big Achilles' Heel of this as a toddler/baby car is, like almost all coupés, access to the rear seat. The front seat's folding lever is easy to access on the 'shoulder' of the seat, and the seat moves forward as much as it can automatically, which is nice. The access gap to the rear isn't big, but the usual shove-the-kid-longwise-like-a-log-into-a-locomotive-firebox method works, and belting him in was a bit easier if you get at least one leg in the car. It's sort of a pain, but the rest of the car makes this easy to overlook.
Cargo and kid-crap carrying capacity is pretty decent. The big jogging stroller fit into the trunk fine, but I wanted to try a harder test. Otto's just recently started his own path of vehicular ownership, beginning with that toddler standby, the Big Wheel. A Big Wheel's a bulky, awkward-shaped thing to stow, so I wanted to see if I could get it in the trunk.
And, the answer is sort of! Normally, the answer is no. But not 'no' by very much. In fact, it was so damn close, that I didn't want to quit trying. So, after turning it every way I could without invoking Escher rules of reality, I realized that if I removed the trunk carpet/liner and exposed an extra inch or so of depth in the spare tire well, it might work. It did! So, I'm happy to say you can use the AMG C63 Edition 507 to carry a Big Wheel.
But, really, despite the normal coupé/baby car incompatibilities, there's two things that make this car an outstanding child car: the smile on your kid's face when he says "daddy, go fast?" and the smile on yours when you put the pedal down, hear that roar, and feel that surge of power launching you down the road.
Really, if you've got the money to burn and already have one conventionally sensible kid car, I can't see any reason not to go for this as a second car that could carry the kids if needed. It's comfortable, crammed full of safety features and robotic driving aids (lane departure warnings, active cruise control, etc), and has a Big Wheel-capable trunk. Spend the money, live a little. Maybe it'll even encourage you to take more fun trips with your kids.