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Photos: 2009 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG combines very impressive performance on road and track with first-rate cabin electronics, making it fun and convenient. Just make sure you budget for gas.

CNET Reviews staff
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Mercedes-Benz updated its C-class for the 2008 model year with new engine choices, body styling, and new cabin electronics. Then it gave the new model to its in-house tuner, AMG, resulting in the stellar C63 AMG.
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AMG started out as an independent tuner in 1967, taking Mercedes-Benz models and adding its own custom engines. The company was bought by Mercedes-Benz in 1999 to be its in-house tuner brand.
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The 6.2-liter V-8 AMG engine makes 451 horsepower at 6,800rpm and 443 pound-feet of torque at 5,000rpm. This is the same engine used in the much bigger S63, giving the C63 a better power-to-weight ratio.
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The C-class is at the bottom of the Mercedes-Benz's sedan line in the U.S. It has a small but comfortable cabin, suitable for four people.
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The C63 gets AMG badges on the fenders, star spoke wheels, and AMG brake calipers. There are also vents in the fascia designed to cool the brakes, a styling cue not present on the standard C-class.
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The sport-tuned suspension includes a stability program with a sport mode, which lets the rear wheels slip out a little for cornering.
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The interior design is nice and simple, with black materials accentuated here and there by metal-finish trim. The C63 gets the same electronics as the standard C-class.
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Steering is nice and tight in the C63, and the flat-bottom steering wheel offers a thick grip area. There are shift paddles attached to the horizontal spokes.
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The seven-speed automatic transmission is tuned for fast shifting, and has a very smart program in sport mode. You can also put it in manual mode, shifting with the shifter or the paddles.
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The speedometer uses a floating needle, allowing space for a display that shows trip, audio, and navigation information.
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The LCD pops up out of the dashboard when you turn on the car. A knob on the console lets you control the cabin gadgets, and you get quick access to navigation, stereo, and phone with a button on the instrument panel.
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For destination entry, you select letters by scrolling the console knob along this horizontal row. It can be tedious, but the car also has voice command.
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The maps look particularly good, as the car uses a hard drive-based navigation system, allowing for more data storage than a DVD.
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Route guidance graphics are useful and clear. The graphics used for freeways also show lines indicating lanes, and which lanes turn off at junctions.
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Sirius satellite radio comes with the Harmon Kardon stereo system.
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The hard drive for the navigation system also has room for music storage. You can rip any CD to the system, and it will have its tracks automatically tagged using the internal Gracenote database.
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The car includes iPod integration, and you can view and control the music using the speedometer display and steering wheel buttons.
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The Harmon Kardon audio system produces excellent sound. It uses 12 speakers around the cabin and a 320-watt, eight-channel amp.
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The Bluetooth phone support is excellent, letting you import entries from your phone's contact list.

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