Steal or no steal | V8 engines for the soul

When AMG has banished the V8 from the C63, you know the writing is on the wall. Here's what you should buy instead

By PH Staff / Saturday, 24 September 2022 / Loading comments

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate, 2013, 30k, £34,495

Even with prior knowledge of this week’s C63 announcement, it still seemed a shock. The V8 was as central to the C63’s appeal for a decade and a half as bacon is to a BLT; even with AMG’s genius involved – and some serious numbers in evidence – it’s hard not to be concerned about the emotional charm of a 2.0-litre C63. But then 2,000cc (or more) has been taken from the AMG C-Class with each passing generation: we’ve gone from 6.2-litres to 4.0-litres to just 2.0. By that logic, the next C63 will have no litres at all…

But let’s not worry about an electric C63 just yet. The popularity of V8 C-Classes over the years has meant plenty remain for sale. It isn’t hard to see why they’ve found so many happy homes, even if keeping a 6.2-litre Mercedes in fuel, tyres and road tax will cost more now than at any point since its 2007 launch. Seldom has Mercedes luxury and style melded quite so successfully with AMG brute force.

There are cheaper 204-era C63s out there than this one (it’s more than early turbo cars), and they’re probably better value if you’re looking for an Affalterbach V8 fix before it’s too late. But a facelifted car, in silver with the small wheels and some jazzy leather, was impossible to resist. The first C63 was always an enthusiast favourite – with good reason, of course – this week may well see its stock rise even further.

Audi R8 V8, 2007, 59k, £38,990

If the C63’s star is on the rise, the Audi R8 still looks keen value for a V8 icon of such calibre. Perhaps the looming demise of the combustion-engined R8 will jolt the market into life. For now though, being able to spend Golf GTI money on one of the great mid-engined cars of the modern ago continues to look like a steal.

The V8 v V10 R8 argument will wage forever, but the demise of the former with the second generation has certainly given the old 4.2 a certain cult appeal – the purist’s choice, if you will. Certainly, it’s going to be fast enough for most, with 420hp from the V8 making more than 180mph possible. Add an open gated manual on top of an 8,000rpm engine and delectable, spaceframe chassis and you get a bonafide supercar. It’s just that Audi made it.

Much like the C63 that launched around the same time – what heady days they were – the unprecedented awesomeness of what was created meant plenty sold. One day Mercedes didn’t make a M3-beating C-Class and Audi didn’t have a 911 rival; then they both did, and buyers couldn’t get enough. This one comes with a full service history and some desirable options, with enough left from £40k to (hopefully) insure and tax it for a year. Money very well spent, we’d say.

Vauxhall VXR8 GTS, 2015, 13k, £45,990

So seamlessly did both C63 and R8 slip into their respective ranges that we all just naively assumed they’d be around forever. Why wouldn’t they be? The Vauxhall-badged Holdens, however, were such outrageous outliers in the Vauxhall lineup that they always seemed on borrowed time. They were too good to be true; the fact we had more than a decade with Monaros and VXR8s, never with less than 5.7-litres and 350hp, seems remarkable to this day.

By the end, things were getting very, very serious too. The Chevy LS V8 was up to 6.2-litres and supercharged, meaning almost 600hp. And it was no mere muscle car, with magnetic dampers, torque vectoring and AP Racing brakes. All for £55k, too, tens of thousands less than the German supersaloons it outgunned. The Aussie-built Vauxhalls left how they arrived – making the alternatives looks undernourished, overpriced and rather too serious. No wonder they have such a fond following.

This 2015 car has covered less than 2,000 miles a year, yet one of the two owners decided that the standard 585hp was insufficient and had Walkinshaw pump it up to 615hp. Or 195hp more than the Audi. The big Vaux was undoubtedly a charming and capable old beast when new; don’t be surprised if the V8’s threatened status makes it even more endearing now.

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