Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Ups the Ante to Beat the Bimmers

Mercedes-Benz Concept 358

BMW has owned the hot sports sedan segment with its M3 and M5 forever, or so it seems. There’s a reason: They are marvelous cars with very little competition. Benz has been trying to eat its lunch for some time with another very good car, the C63 AMG.

Now it has dropped this orange bomb, called Concept 358, into the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. Besides the special paint, the car is a C63 AMG with a Performance Package that boosts output to 480 hp (in shooting range of the M5’s 500 hp), 19-inch black wheels, and special leather inside.

Will it drive like an M5? Who knows? But from what we read, it will easily take on the M3 and finally offer (when and if it comes to the U.S.) an alternative to the stark and homely Bimmers.

2009 BMW M3 sedan, right side view

BMW M3 sedan

Australians love hot cars, and by report the country is the fifth-largest AMG market in the world. The C63 AMG is the best-selling AMG in Australia. So it’s no surprise that you can order and buy the Performance Package car there (not sure about the orange paint).

It’s time for a really posh performance sedan in the U.S., but we wonder if the new CAFE standards will permit such a beast to be born. Reviews of the 2011 C63 AMG (457 hp) have been very positive, although fuel economy is dreadful (14.2 mpg, according to CNet.com). MSRP presently begins at $53,800, a little below the M3’s. When and if it comes, Concept 358 will cost more, you can be sure.

If Benz and AMG can find a way to get this car off the guzzler tax and into 20-mpg territory, they will clearly have a winner. BMW has held the torch for too long.

Let’s hear it for AMG cars: performance and style combined. Do you agree?

—jgoods

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