I recently had the opportunity to drive a 2012 Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Black Series, which is the ultimate Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Yes, that’s right: I think a 6-year-old C-Class is the ultimate iteration of the car, rather than the latest and greatest versions you can buy today. And today, I’m going to explain why.
Let’s start with the facts. The Black Series was only sold in 2012, only at the very end of the model run of the last-generation C-Class, and only in limited numbers: Mercedes-Benz built just 800 for the world, and fewer than 100 came to the United States — making it the rarest C-Class ever. It was only offered in the C-Class Coupe body style, and it had some changes over the regular C 63 AMG.
One major change was engine power. Although the C 63 AMG from the era had only 451 horsepower, the Black Series turned things up to 510 horses — a figure that hasn’t been beaten by any C-Class since, even though the Black Series is now 6 years old. The result is zero to 60 in something like 4 seconds, which still rivals today’s top C 63S AMG models — proving that the Black Series had serious power for its time period.
Another major change over the regular C 63 AMG is the fact that the Black Series was really designed for track use. The Black Series model I drove had two especially interesting options: one that deleted the rear seats, and one that added all sorts of crazy aerodynamic modifications — including a front lip spoiler and canards in front, and a huge rear wing in back. One glance inside the Black Series and you knew it wasn’t intended for practicality; one look on the outside of this car and you knew it was intended as a track weapon. Or maybe someone got a little too enthusiastic buying rear wings on eBay.
The rest of the Black Series is, perhaps unfortunately, a little more C-Class-like than I expected. The interior, for instance, is all C-Class; the Black Series has way too much plastic borrowed from the C 250, and few touches to let you know you’re in something especially unique. You can also see the "standard" C-Class show through in a few other ways, like the grocery-bag hooks in the trunk and the roof rack mounts on the roof — items you’d think would be eliminated from a limited-production track-focused sports car.
But still, the C 63 AMG Black Series is a special vehicle — and that becomes clear the moment you get behind the wheel and actually drive it. The sport seats are heavily bolstered, and one push of the engine-starter button fires up the exhaust — which is surprisingly aggressive for a C-Class.
Once you’re on the road, you start to realize where Mercedes-Benz spent the money to make changes over every other C-Class. The car is a bit skittish, but in a good way; it feels like the entire vehicle wants to go faster, and your sense of responsibility is the only thing holding it back from total loss of control, like an angry dog on a chain. Acceleration is brutally quick, especially for a 6-year-old C-Class, and the engine note when you put your foot down is pure naturally aspirated V8 bliss. Power is linear, but that isn’t the best part; that honor goes to the impressive torque, which comes in a strong wave even when you drop your foot while you’re already moving at 40 or 50 miles per hour — something that’s always been a big benefit of the naturally aspirated V8.
The Black Series’ real benefit, however, is the handling; the steering is surprisingly sharp — far more than in the regular C 63 AMG — suggesting Mercedes-Benz really did intend this to be a track vehicle, and not any sort of open-road, high-speed cruiser like many AMG models. Body roll is minimal, and the car feels very stable in just about all corners — just as much as a true sports car, which says a lot about the amount of work done to this chassis.
In the end, the C 63 AMG Black Series really is the ultimate C-Class, with the handling, and the power, and the low production volume to match. Maybe the only drawback is the fact that it is, indeed, a C-Class — and that everyone else on the road thinks you’ve modified it with a stupid wing and an aftermarket front lip spoiler. They’ll discover the truth as you’re pulling away from them. Find a Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.