Set to arrive at U.S. dealers this fall, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG benefits from the same kind of comprehensive mid-cycle revamp found on its conventional C-Class sedan siblings that were previewed last month in Detroit. This latest incarnation brings a host of visual and mechanical enhancements that promise to raise its street profile as well as its performance index -- including a significant gain in overall operating efficiency.

Honing every AMG edge

Exterior tweaks to the 2012 C63 AMG start with a new and more aggressive front fascia that brings reshaped clear-lens headlamps, a restyled grille, bigger air intakes, LED running lights with an SLS AMG flavor and an edgier front apron design. Out back, the C63 AMG gets a new diffuser while the car's prominently flared fenders house new AMG 18-inch light-alloy wheels finished in titanium grey that mount 235/40 performance rubber up front and 255/35 rear tires.

Although the naturally aspirated 6.2-liter AMG V8 underhood carries over unchanged making 415 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 443 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 revs, it's now paired with a revised version of the AMG Speedshift MCT-7 sport automatic. This multi-mode seven-speed that uses a wet start-up clutch in place of the conventional torque converter now boasts a Controlled Efficiency "C" mode in addition to its performance-oriented "S," "S+," "M" and "RACE START" settings. Programmed to optimize economy and shifting comfort, this "C" mode mapping plus the C63 AMG's new low-draw power steering pump are expected to help boost fuel economy and cut CO2 emissions by roughly 10 percent on U.S.-spec cars.

For hardcore go-even-faster fans, Mercedes will offer an optional AMG Development Package. This underhood upgrade borrows the forged pistons, connecting rods and lightweight crankshaft from the SLS AMG, and gains a more free-revving personality plus 30 more ponies in the process. That's sufficient to drop the 2012 C63 AMG's 0-60 mph time from 4.4 to 4.3 seconds and up its top speed from an electronically limited 155 mph to 174 mph. 

In addition to its new speed-sensitive AMG sport steering setup with an even quicker 13.5:1 ratio, the 2012 C63 AMG also benefits from a major chassis revamp that brings wider front/rear track dimensions, recalibrated spring/shock settings, bigger anti-roll bars and revised geometry -- key changes that Mercedes says will improve the car's handling agility and responsiveness while trimming NVH levels.

Expanding the feature set

Building on cabin changes made to the entire 2012 C-Class line, the C63 AMG complements its new dash and center display configurations with an AMG flat-top/bottom sport steering wheel culled from the CLS63 AMG and fitted with a pair of aluminum shifter paddles. Also in the house are deeply-bolstered AMG sport seats and an aluminum pedal set as well as bespoke leather interior trim plus metal and piano-black accent bits. Like the 2012 C-Class, the new C63 AMG will also gain the latest generation of M-B's COMAND-based telematics/navigation/infotainment systems as well as a new selection of advanced safety features including Adaptive Highbeam Assist, ATTENTION ASSIST, PARKTRONIC including parking guidance, Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Spot Assist.

Pricing on the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG won't be announced until closer to its on-sale date. However, it's expected to remain fairly close to the current level and will likely start somewhere in the $62,000-$65,000 window.

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