A few months ago ec rounded up the latest batch of European V8s and headed to the open desert. Neither the BMW M3 nor the Audi RS 4 offered any surprises. They are both fine vehicles with huge capabilities. They do what you tell them to do, no excuses. The Mercedes C63, however, was a total shock. Bullet train-fast, spleen-squeezing brakes and great underpinnings made for an amazingly entertaining ride. And its cabin was first class, a fine mix of sporting luxury. What the hell did MBZ do with the C-Class? This isn't the same car I remember.

And then we looked at the window sticker. Hovering right around $56k, it was cheaper than the BMW, and much cheaper than the Audi. Moreover, it outgunned both cars by a significant margin.

We pussed out naming an all-out winner. In the magazine biz that's a serious breach of etiquette. You've gotta take a stand, even if it's wrong. If I could go back in time and change that issue, I would. In lieu of that, here's another that should remind us why the C63 is a rock star.

The crew at Evosport built this MBZ for Josh Ogle, an Evosport fabricator and welder. Josh and chief fabricator Shawn Swagerty are to metal what Michelangelo is to marble. Just look at a few of Evosport's exhaust systems or one of their integral race cages. They appear to be organic, like they were grown that way. That's what a good metal man can do.

The first thing you notice about Ogle's car is the sound. Its voice is classic V8, a low-pitched rumble felt in your centermass. Quick stabs of the throttle induce savage staccato bursts, something like an A10 Warthog firing its Vulcan cannons. Birds scatter, rocks fall, heads swivel. Evosport's Evo3 C63 is here.

In stock trim, the C63 is no slouch. Packing 451 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, it's capable of eclipsing 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. Quarter mile times are in the mid-12s with 115 mph trap speeds. It's obvious Mercedes designed this car with North America in mind.

Evosport essentially amplified the goodness already there, replacing the lion's share of the intake and exhaust plumbing with parts from its shop. Evosport's long-tube stainless steel race headers (tri-Y configuration) and its 3-inch performance exhaust (with cross pipe) and an Evosport Stage II intake system ensure the engine is well ventilated. The headers are ceramic coated and the entire system offers significant weight savings over stock. Evosport also fitted its fully dampened underdrive crankshaft pulley. Its lightweight design dramatically reduces rotating mass and uses continuously variable active damping technology for optimal smoothness throughout the rev range. Wrought from T-6061 aluminum, it functions with the OEM serpentine belt and a modified crankshaft bolt.

Evosport's Evo2 ECU was used to optimize the new hardware's performance. The Evo2 program removes the top-speed limiter and improves throttle response and ignition timing. The Evo2 ECU can also toggle between 91 and 93 octane fuel programs, which can be fun for the odd track session.

The Evosport C36 spun the dyno wheel to an impressive 567 hp and 512 lb-ft of twist. And it's power that is available right now--no waiting for turbos or superchargers to spool up, no NO2 bottles to fill.

Basically, this car could stomp a Lamborghini Gallardo off the line while three of your friends make faces in the back. So yeah, it's quite fast.

Historically, Mercedes tended to choose modest running gear for its cars. Yes, the AMG wheels look good. But on the C63, they just don't carry much rubber. Josh commissioned a stunning set of HRE C97 wheels, 9x19 in front and 10x19 out back. These forged rims are hand assembled and are one of the few wheels that actually combine both high strength and low weight. They've been shod with Toyo Proxes T1-R rubber stock measuring 255/35 and 285/30, respectively (stock C63 runs 235/40-18 fronts and 255/35-18s out back).

Evosport also upgraded the binders with its lightweight floating rotors (cross-drilled and slotted) and replaced the rubber brake lines with braided stainless steel. Neither AMG nor Evosport skimped in the brake department. This car stops as fearsomely as it goes.

H&R coilovers and adjustable sway bars provide a 15-20 percent increase in firmness. The H&R suspension drops the chassis nearly an inch and lends a well-tucked appearance without appearing the least bit aftermarket.

Although the car is shod in handsome factory aerodynamics, Evosport enlisted the services of Vorsteiner to lend a more aggressive appearance. The front end was fitted with Vorsteiner's pronounced carbon-fiber splitter, while the grille and surrounding areas were blacked out. As this magazine goes to print, Vorsteiner will most likely have finished its rear carbon bumper/diffuser and its rear decklid spoiler and they car will be wearing those too.

As this car is equipped with Mercedes' excellent seven-speed automatic, you've got to wonder why anyone would want a double-clutch transmission. The C63 held its gears like a manual trans and gave me complete chassis control. Most of my driving was in second and third gears--at any given moment I had the power to spin the rear tires and induce oversteer. You've gotta love a naturally aspirated V8--there really is no substitute for displacement. Although Mercedes has yet to release a four-door Black Series, this car from Evosport is very close. I am hereby claiming the C63 as the performance car of the year. All hail the new king.

I guess Evosport gets a few extra jewels on its crown.

Evosport EVO3 C63
* Layout
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

* Engine
6.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve. Evosport Power Pulley, race headers and exhaust, Stage II intake, phenolic spacer kit, Evo2 ECU

* Transmission
Seven-speed automatic

* Suspension
H&R coilovers and adjustable sway bars

* Brakes
AMG calipers, 14.2-inch cross-drilled/slotted rotors (f), 13.0-inch cross-drilled rotors (r), stainless steel lines, Motul high performance fluid

* Wheels and Tires
HRE C97, 9x19 (f), 10x19 (r)Toyo Proxes T1-R, 255/35 (f), 285/30 (r)

* Exterior
Factory AMG aero kit, Vorsteiner front airdam/splitter, Silver Stealth bulbs

Peak Power: 567 hp @ 6950 rpm
Peak Torque: 512 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm

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