AMG has long been the benchmark for performance for Mercedes-Benz, but for those who don't want to spend $65,000 for a base C63 AMG and don't want just another C-Class sedan, there's now a vehicle to fill that niche. The 2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG combines the performance aspects of an AMG with the comfort of and starting price closer to a C300 4Matic. It won't have the same power as the C63, but the 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V-6 will more than get the job done for those looking for a more engaging driving experience.
Mercedes gave this 362-hp sedan a modest 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds, but during our tests, we saw 4.4 seconds. There's a slight turbo lag when accelerating, but once it gets going, the C450 AMG sprints forward. On the highway, this is a very good thing, but it rides so smoothly that it's easy to go faster than you intended. There were times we had to dial it back, lest we get pulled over. Part of that had to do with the drive mode we most frequently used. With five different modes to choose from, the ride varies. Comfort mode is the default mode whenever the vehicle is started, and it can get annoying when you want to continue in the mode you last drove in.
While in Comfort mode, the ride is smooth, the car seeming to glide over road imperfections and smoothly riding on the street, but throw it into Sport mode or Sport+ mode, and the suspension tightens up and the handling becoming sharper and more precise. The ride isn't as forgiving in these modes, but with the added performance, you won't be thinking about that too much. With a quarter-mile time of 13 seconds flat at 107.7 mph, the drive itself is all that will be on your mind. When using a more dynamic drive mode, it's easy to take corners faster, which makes those tedious drives around the city or carving a canyon road more enjoyable.
With performance variants, there's always one feature that will put a smile on your face. Every time we drove the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG in Sport or Sport+ mode, the engine sound was loud and throaty but not overbearing like you'd find on the more powerful C63 AMG or further up the performance brand's lineup. Eco mode, however, features a stop/start system. Many of these systems can be jarring when they either turn off or re-engage, but Mercedes has managed to make those instances less noticeable.
The C450 AMG has an attractive, plush interior with a black leather trim with red contrast stitching. A natural grain black ash wood trim gives the interior an added sense of luxury and refinement. The seats are comfortable with plenty of support for long drives. The side bolstering is a little excessive and can hinder you when entering or exiting the vehicle, but when driving more aggressively, it comes in quite handy. The seat belts, once buckled, remove the slack automatically. If you're not ready for it, it can feel a little handsy.
The interior offers a simple, clean layout with easy-to-use controls for the infotainment system, but we would have liked it if the actual screen was better integrated. As it sits, it looks as if Mercedes slapped it on as an afterthought. During the day, the glare on the screen and small analog clock near the bottom of the center stack can make it difficult to see. We liked the positioning of the head-up display, as it was easy to see from our driving position.
At the end of the day, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG filling a niche we didn't know we wanted filled. It offers a performance bump over the C300 but doesn't step on the toes of the more powerful C63 AMG, making it the ideal pick for someone looking for a little more from their daily drive.