The current generation was released in 2000 and upgraded in 2004. The C-Class family consists of six sedans, two estate and three sport coupe models. Recently I drove a selection of C-Class models and while the C220 CDi with sports suspension was extremely impressive, the C55 AMG sedan is in a class all its own! Outwardly, the C55 AMG portrays a typical upper lip presence befitting the persona of the teutonic brand. Take a closer look and the small AMG badge provides a hint of the true potential of this vehicle. Just as Ford and Holden enthusiasts worship the FPV and HSV brands, AMG is the heart and sports soul of Mercedes-Benz. Cruising effortlessly through the hills of East Gippsland the C55 leaps from 100km/h to large figures way beyond, in effortless and almost instantaneous fashion. The C55 AMG is the most affordable of the AMG performance models and marks a shift in the normally mild mannered C-Class range to genuine tarmac burners. Perhaps one of the faults of the model is that Mercedes have kept the C55 AMG discreet and there is little to indicate this is a true performance machine.
Heaven forbid 'go-fast stripes' or other peripheral trinkets, but put pedal to the metal and this baby absolutely rocks. Woe betide any SS Commodore driver who thinks this is easy meat in the superiority ranks! The C55 AMG is powered by a beautiful 5.4-litre, naturally aspirated V8. It was the first C-Class to gain a V8, with previous Benz thinking generally being that supercharged V6s were the way to go. It is rear wheel drive and has a sequential five-speed automatic transmission. Transmission and engine integration are first rate, with roll-on acceleration a real treat. This is a car that deserves to be driven, but with authorities disdain for even minor indiscretions when it comes to posted speeds, unfortunately its maximum potential will remain unexplored by many owners! The C55 gained the V8 in 2004, replacing the C32 - a supercharged V6. It delivers 270kW of power and a not-to-be-underestimated 510Nm of torque. This latter figure contributing in to the C55 AMG's 0-100km/h performance of 5.2 seconds.
It rolls on 17-inch wheels with low profile tyres. Externally the C55 AMG has a striking front end, with elliptical headlamps and an approximately 80mm longer front end structure, to accommodate the V8 engine. The grille is shaped slightly different to other C-Class models, but most would be hard pressed to spot the difference. The model also gains side skirts, boot spoiler lip and rear bumper. Inside there are plenty of comfort features with leather upholstery, comfortable power adjustable seats with good side bolsters for lateral grip, and pretty much everything is electronically operated. Not to mention a superb Harman Kardon logic7 surround sound system. The dash features an AMG instrument cluster with four classic round dials, a 320 km/h speedometer dial, red needles and sports steering wheel. The C55 AMG come with a 'sports package', which consists of 17-inch five spoke alloy wheels, black leather upholstery, large front discs and brake calipers, exhaust system with polished stainless steel tailpipe, leather trimmed gear shift lever, leather three-spoke steering wheel, brushed stainless steel pedals, front sports seats and sports suspension.
Other equipment includes bi-xenon headlights with cleaning system, blue tinted windows, power folding side mirrors, folding rear seat, glass electric sunroof, heated front seats, and even a first aid kit and warning triangle. On the road, handling is first class and acceleration is mind blowing. Seating provides plenty of comfort for four - five at a pinch - with back seat comfort not far behind the front. While performance is much of what the AMG brand is about, this is an extraordinarily safe car as well. It is not solely about power or speed. These are attributes of the performance brand but the C55 truly reflects the benefits of how Mercedes racing heritage benefits the breed. This is a well balanced vehicle that delivers dynamic poise and comfort. The steering is light, yet precise and communicative. The sports tuned suspension provides a great ride, while 17-inch wheels deliver impressive stability and grip. Electronic stability control doesn't intrude on the driver's ability to enjoy this car, yet is working in the background if things should come unstuck. The AMG suspension has different springs and dampers and is tauter than the standard suspension settings.
The AMG Speedshift five-speed automatic transmission and steering wheel gearshift button provide a unique drive package. The driver has the choice of using the touch shift gear selector or the gear shift buttons on the sports steering wheel. With manual mode selected, the transmission does not downshift automatically under full throttle or when the kickdown position is reached, nor does it upshift automatically at the rev speed limit. This allows the driver to harness the sporty dynamics of the V8 and to enjoy its immense pulling power. The C55 AMG lacks the wow factor of some competitors, being extremely conservative and discreet in its looks. It is undoubtedly a 'wolf in sheeps clothing' though, with a wicked personality that delivers a superb driving experience, whether for everday driveability or for those looking for additional performance. In a nutshell, this is a cracker of a car that is as capable as it is unimpeachable on the highway!
Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG
Engine: 5.4 litre petrol V8
Bore & Stroke: 97.0 x 92.0mm
Compression ratio: 11.0
Max. Power: 270kW @ 5750rpm
Max Torque: 510Nm @ 4000rpm
Performance: 0-100km/h 5.2 seconds
Top speed: Limited to 250km/h
Fuel consumption: 12.3 litres/100km
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Wheels & Tyres:
Type: 18-inch AMG alloy, 5-spoke
Front tyres - 225/40 R18,
Rear tyres - 245/35 R18
LxWxH: 4526 x 1728 x 1426mm
Turning circle: 10.76 metres
Fuel tank: 62 litres
Kerb weight: 2115kg
Driver and front passenger front and side airbags, brake assist, brake wear pad indicator, central locking, cruise control with speedtronic variable speed limiter, power steering, direct control suspension, electronic stability program, electrically adjustable front seats, heated exterior mirrors, power adjust, multi-function steering wheel with trip computer, outside temperature display, remote boot lid release, thermatic automatic climate control, 6-stack CD/radio, heated front seats, rain sensor for windscreen wipers, memory package for drivers seat, exterior mirrors & steering column.