How AMG’s Mercedes C-Class Has Changed In 20 Years, From Someone Who Owns One

Two decades of advancements in cars can bring us some really eye-opening changes. We live by incremental small car design updates all the time, but seeing them presented side by side paints a picture of hell. Nearly two decades separate the 2002 Mercedes-Benz C32 AMG and 2024 Mercedes-AMG C63 SE Performance. In terms of hardware, they couldn’t be any different anymore. But as it stands, both are still C-class AMGs, and therefore deserve a visual comparison. It’s always fun to see how things have developed.

Obviously, no one is driving the new C63, so today we can only talk about the stats and, most importantly, the design.

In 2002 my C32 came with a 3.2-liter supercharged V6, which is good for 349 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Weighs approximately 3,500 lbs. Conversely, the C63, after spending so much time with V8s, now has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid, which produces a combined 671 horsepower and 751 pound-feet of torque. That represents a whopping 92 and 126 percent increase in horsepower and torque, respectively. I do not cry, You are on Crying in the corner.

Not to mention the fact that the new C63 now weighs 4,654 pounds—which is an increase of nearly 1,100 pounds, or a 31 percent increase in weight. This ‘C’ nickname for ‘compact’ does some serious work here, right? Yet, jokes aside, the performance C63 SE is a technological marvel, packed with Formula 1-derived gear that makes it faster, more powerful and more efficient than our little brains could have dreamed of 20 years ago.

Looking at the two cars side-by-side, it is clear that Mercedes’ design philosophy has also undergone a major transformation.

In 2002, when you could count with your fingers the number of new AMG cars for sale, it was all about accuracy. Luxury was defined by hiding in plain sight. It was your secret to know your secret only. If you look at the C32, there really isn’t much that gives it apart from anything other than the regular C class. The fenders are not wider, the grille is not any gap, and there are two tailpipes instead of four. There’s even a hood trim, which helps me visually position the front of the car when parked. In those days, the AMG way was to stuff a powerful engine under the hood that most people wouldn’t take a second look at.

This is no longer the case. The C63 has a massive front now, with massive breathing holes, chiseled headlights, a powerfully sculpted hood, lip spoiler and quad exhaust pipes. There’s no hood frills anymore, and hasn’t been for a few years now, but I’m sure the face of the car is full of proximity sensors that are happy to yell at you even if you get close to a poodle. Today’s AMGs want you to know they’re AMGs, damn it, and that they all wear the right accessories to advertise themselves as such.

inside? It is completely unrecognizable. There is no gear selector, the Giants screen dominates, and there are a lot of different textures and materials now. but! The new C63 still retains the seat adjustment controls on the door.

Today it is clear that modern AMG cars are more luxurious than their predecessors. The leather interior is softer, the higher-quality audio systems, the onboard safety and assistance technology are out of this world, and the options books are more extensive than the dinner menu. But what also comes with that is a bold design that is now leaning more towards sport than refinement.

Mercedes is not alone in this direction. Everyone’s cars are more stylish and fierce than ever. Round shapes, with the exception of Rivian, are outside. I wish I had a time machine just so I could show that this is what 20 years of AMG C-Class evolution would do for us. Believe me? Can. But give it another 20 years and we’ll be back here again, having the same conversation.

Got a tip? Hola Lee: kristen@thedrive.com

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