The .44 Magnum is, to the untrained eye, like any other revolver. But when you pull the trigger, a small-scale explosion occurs and the gun kicks like an MMA fighter. That sudden reaction is the trademark of the gun, and it’s also the closest trait the firearm shares with the new Mercedes-AMG C63 S. At first glance, there’s not much to the car. And if it wasn’t for the AMG stamp on the back, it’d be a certified sleeper. But make no mistake, AMG’s super sedan fires like a large-caliber round when you put pedal to floorboard.

MORE GERMAN MUSCLE: The AMG 300 SEL 6.8 | The AMG GT S | The AMG G63

From curb appeal, the new C-Class floats in as a gorgeous luxo-barge. Though the new Mercedes design language appears to steal a few pages from Chris Bangle’s (love it or hate it) “flame-surfacing” playbook, they make it work in the way it should. The C-Class is meant to be an S-Class for half the price, but that intention has not always been met. Recently, the line has been finding its proper direction, and the AMG C63 S definitely hits the mark.

The long stretch of tarmac disappears and I’m hard on the ceramic brakes into the first turn. Each down shift orders a firing squad from the exhaust.

Carving up Portugal’s rural mountain roads leading to Algarve International Circuit, I felt the heft of the car, but I also noticed how the AMG engineers have done a damn fine job of concealing it. The nearly two-ton sedan soaks up corners and stretches of tarmac normally reserved for the WRC Rally de Portugal with surprising ease. Even on narrow roads, the C63 S doesn’t seem that wide.

After the apéritif of open roads, I was eager to see what the C63 S drives like on the main course of the racetrack. But sitting in the AMG C63 S and idling in the pit lane, it kept only the air of a luxury sedan. Encompassing leather seats and an elegantly minimalist dash design don’t scream “hot laps” — a race track didn’t seem to be the place for the car. But the C63 S’s drive mode selector insists otherwise with four different drive settings: Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Race. Ranging from softest to most aggressive, throttle response, shift times, suspension and exhaust volume all dial in accordingly. An “Individual” setting can also be programmed, wherein you can mix and match the different levels of intensity for each driving aspect. (Though the eargasm-inducing exhaust should be kept in “Race” mode regardless of the road.)

UNDER THE HOOD
290-AMG
Engine: 4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8
Transmission 7-speed AMG Speedshift MCT
Horsepower: 503
Torque: 516 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 3.9 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Pricing: $70,000+

It wasn’t until the warm-up laps that the C63 S started to show its true hand. Then, as I rounded the final sweeping right-hander on to the start-finish straight, I nailed the throttle. There hit the kick. And with it, the long stretch of tarmac disappeared and I was hard on the ceramic brakes into the first turn. Each down shift ordered a firing squad from the exhaust. Pops and bangs on the overrun followed me to the apex, then I was back on the throttle seamlessly linking up the next turn. The AMG C63’s 4.0-liter twin turbo V8 (same as the AMG GT) offers up such jarring acceleration, you’ll notice you’re only at three-quarter throttle by the time your self-preservation instincts kick in. There’s so much more on tap it’s frightening.

Will the average AMG C63 S buyer ever see the full potential the car? No. Not unless their grocery store is at the other end of a closed race track and they’re a seasoned racing driver. And that’s the greatest aspect about the C63 S: it doesn’t look like it’s chasing BMW for lap times. It appears subtle and civilized. But when you see three italic letters stamped on the back, you’ll know that a caged fury lurks within. And that’s what makes this sleeper something worth raving about.

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