Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / The Mercedes-Benz AMG C 63 S is seen at the Hunter Museum of American Art on Monday, April 6, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 S Sedan might sound like a mouthful of alphabet soup, but it's a tasty ride, nonetheless. Part of the tyranny of the SUV-era is that fewer and fewer compact luxury sedans are being made today — especially ones like the AMG C63 S, which is both elegantly designed and outrageously engineered.

The performance-focused AMG C63 S can dart from zero to 60 miles per hour in a mere 3.8 seconds. Meanwhile, its electronically capped top speed is 180 miles per hour. Think about that, the AMG C63 S could sprint from Chattanooga to Atlanta in just 39 minutes. Having said that, delivering you there in one piece at that speed is highly unlikely.

Camouflaged as a family sedan, the AMC C63 S is hiding a hand-crafted, turbocharged V-8 engine under the hood that makes 503 horsepower. Bazinga! My tester, shown here in Iridium Silver Metallic, was provided by the manufacturer for a one-week test drive on Chattanooga streets and roads.


* Model: Mercedes-Benz C63 S Sedan

* Exterior color: Iridium Silver Metallic

* Interior color: Black Nappa Leather

* Engine: 4.0-liter, 8-cylinder, turbocharged

* Horsepower: 503

* Fuel economy: 27 mpg highway, 18 mpg city

* Local Dealer: Mercedes-Benz at Long of Chattanooga

* Price (as tested): $96,540


What is it?

The Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 S is a five passenger sedan — although one of the five needs to be a very small person to occupy the center slot in the back seat. It competes with the BMW M3 and Audi S4 and comes in three body styles, sedan (like my tester), coupe and convertible.


What does it cost?

There's no hiding the fact that this is a pricey ride. My tester, which has about $20,000 in options, has an MSRP of $96,540. While you are writing the check, just repeat this relaxing mantra, "180 miles per hour, 180 miles per hour."

The upgraded carbon ceramic brake system alone goes for $5,450, which sounds like a lot but is really indispensable when you try decelerating (at the track, we should specify) from 180 miles per hour.


What I love

A lot. The black Nappa leather seats with gray inserts, the lush Burmester sound system, the glazed carbon fiber interior trim, the two-stage sunroof, the ample rear-seat leg room. I could barely suppress a smile when I noticed that this M-B has an actual, operating cigarette lighter. How retro.


Room for improvement

The cup holders are small by American standards, the steering wheel-mounted shifter is not my favorite configuration, the seats are firm-to-hard and the ride is stiff. There are some hard plastics on the dash that seem mismatched to a vehicle with a sticker price approaching six figures.


Driving impressions

The 4.0-liter V-8 engine is a masterpiece with a throaty exhaust note that sounds like a hot rod. While the ride is a bit harsh for my liking, this is an athletic automobile built to be spurred to its performance limits. That means taut steering and torso-hugging seats. If comfort is your No. 1 priority, there are better options for the money. If performance is key, it doesn't get any better.

By the way, if a sedan seems too, um, boomerish for your tastes, the AMG C63 S is also available in coupe and convertible configurations. That said, there's something stealthy and naughty about an unpretentious little four-door that goes — what? — 180 miles an hour.


Bottom line

There are flashier ways to spend nearly $100K, but the AMG C63 is a classy option for speed-freak, C-suite executives. Car guys and car gals will give you mad props in this little beast, which is all that really matters, right?


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