While most people are salivating over newly introduced cars—like the Lexus LC500 or the Honda Civic Type-R—I find myself drooling over used cars at some of the shadiest dealers in town. I’ll drive by Stan’s Stolen Supercars, catch a glimpse of a $35,000 Maserati GranTurismo and wonder when I’ll get the chance to own this five-owner beautiful piece of Italian machinery that is currently home to a spider colony. I dream about used cars the same way normal people dream about a vacation in New Zealand. I treasure rich people’s discarded used high performance cars while they’re busy putting a deposit on a brand new Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
There are so many tantalizing used German super-sedans to pick from in the $30,000-$35,000 price range, that it’s tough to decide what to get. Before I bought the used M5, I strongly considered the C63 AMG which you can now buy for right around $30,000 with some selling for even cheaper.
Now that I own an M5, I wanted to compare it to the C63 AMG to see what I was missing out on. I headed over to Centex Sport Imports to find out since they recently obtained one.
I prefer the C63 over most AMGs because it’s smaller and nimbler than its heftier siblings. The car might have less horsepower than the M5 (451 hp vs. 500 hp), but has significantly more torque (443 lb-ft vs 383 lb-ft).
A 500 hp car might sound pretty amazing but as I found out when I took my M5 to the dyno, it’s not all that. That’s because you don’t even get anywhere close to the peak horsepower and torque numbers until you go above 5000 revolutions per minute. With the C63 AMG, much more power at lower revs. It feels almost instant. A slight tap of the throttle and the 4000 pound savage flies forward, occupant head tilted back and everything. The C63 AMG has 60 lb-ft more torque than the M5 so while the 4000 lb M5 is struggling to achieve 250 lb-ft of torque at 2000 rpm, the AMG is eagerly eating up pavement. This is so addicting that you’ll be compelled to mash the pedal down all the time, which will enrage everyone around you. Trust me, I know from experience.
The AMG proves that the biggest downside to owning cars like a 400-odd hp M3 or a 500 hp M5 is that on a day-to-day basis much of that power isn’t usable. It’s only available if you are inclined to redline the engine and risk blowing it up.
There’s no disputing that M-cars are track superstars, but for a daily or weekend driver, the C63 AMG can be a much more awakening experience. When you exit Cars and Coffee, pull a Mustang-like fishtailing experience and hop over the curb almost running over little kids, you’ll be awake. These insane torque monsters are fun but can get you into trouble quickly.
The V8 in the C63 sounds meaner and more vicious than what you’ll find with most American muscle cars. It has the throaty low-end grunt that the M5 lacks.
The M5’s V10 has a wonderful sound, no question, but that only happens at really high revs. At low revs, it sounds worse than a twenty year old Chevy Cavalier with missing mufflers.
But there is a problem with the C63.
The C63 AMG interior might look fine from from far away, but once you take a closer look and start operating the knobs and switches, you realize that Mercedes must have called Ford’s Director of Interior who worked on the 2006 Mustang to supply some parts. It’s the same embarrassingly cheap, hard plastic. With the V8 sound, all that torque and the substandard interior, you start to wonder if the C63 is really just a fancy shell covering up an American hotrod.
The BMW M5 interior comparatively is so much better. It might not win an award for having the most visually striking layout, but it’s well put together. Things feel solid to the touch. It’s what you’d want out of a German four-door racecar for the road.
What I personally don’t like about the C63 is that it looks too much like a regular C-class. There are bulging lines on the hood, attractive wheels and quad rear exhaust pipes, but it’s not enough to really stand out. You could stuff that same 6.2L V8 into a C250 and no one would know the difference. Even the M5 suffers a similar fate. The visual differences aren’t enough to set these super-sedans apart from their toned down versions.
But I’ve realized that this is actually a good thing. Because these 400-500 hp sedans don’t look like they’re street-legal racecars, they don’t attract any attention. You could speed past a Corvette Z06 in a C63 AMG going at 120 mph, but the cops will go after the Z06. They just won’t have a clue that a lawyer-mobile could be moving that fast, making that kind of noise.
The C63 doesn’t handle nearly as well as the M5, but it’s boisterous and a riot behind the wheel. You won’t care that the power window button just fell off or that you tried to get into your neighbor’s C250 because the C63 almost looks exactly the same. All you need to do is ever-so-slightly depress the accelerator pedal and you’ll instantly fall in love.
Not having a manual option is a disappointment, but the 7G-Tronic seven speed transmission in the C63 shifts fast enough to keep delivering all the engine’s power without significant disruption. The manual will be the least of your concerns since you’ll mainly be focused on how to get adequate grip with those thin rear wheels.
A newer C63 with a warranty would be the best option. What helps me sleep at night, besides downing a few shots of bourbon, is having a warranty on the M5. With German engineering it’s only a matter of time before something blows up in your face. The warranty has already paid for itself with my M5 and I’m sure it will for the C63 too. What can I say—I like waking up well-rested.
I thought daily driving a 500 hp M5 would satisfy my power craving, but it’s rare that I get to rev the engine high enough to enjoy all that that hp. I’ll probably end up owning an AMG in the near future because it’s ferocious in a way an M-car will never be.