EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Interesting to get out of the long-term F-Type Jag and into this. In some ways they’re completely different cars, in some ways they’re similar -- they both look terrific and go like stink.
The S63 is just gorgeous inside and out. Not flashy (well OK, maybe a little flashy), but curvy and beautiful. Dignified. It wafts along in town like the luxury car it is, but tromp on the gas pedal and whoa baby!! Hang on! In the conditions I drove it in (rain, wet slick pavement) I came nowhere near the potential here. Not even close, even with the all-wheel-drive stability. I’m sure the car could take way more than I threw at it, but I’ll be damned if I was going to be the dork who banged it into a clapped-out Escort.
Benz quotes a sub-4.0 second zero-to-60 time and I have no reason to doubt. The 577-hp, twin-turbo V8 feels like, well, 577 hp. Vaughn once called the hp number “meaty.” I’ll say -- the coupe’s a rocket. Midrange speed and power, say 35-80 mph, is even more impressive than 0-60 -- that’s where the car really feels like a missile. For a 4,678-pounder, it’s remarkable. In fact, it is for most any car.
As I said, the big coupe also has a soft luxury car side to it, though the suspension stiffens some in sport mode but never becomes what I’d call harsh. Yeah the car is heavy, but carries its weight well. Let’s put it that way. Having to jump in it this afternoon and drive to, say, Portland, I’d probably just leave it in comfort.
Mentioning comfort brings me to the interior. It’s a knockout in terms of material quality and fit and finish. It’s also handsome and the center stack is fairly intuitive once you learn your way around in there. A heated armrest! Love that.
Overall, it’s a terrific blend of performance, civilized manners and comfort. It’s also just damned good looking.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Ah, expectations.
I see AMG on the back of a Benz, and I expect some drama, some snorting and gnashing of teeth and scaring of passengers. That’s not what the S63 AMG is about, though -- this car is a superlative high-performance luxury grand tourer in the mold of the Bentley Continental GT or any of a variety of Aston Martin offerings.
Thing is, this car is so exceptionally competent that going fast is almost boring. It’s certainly not as dramatic as 0-60 in four seconds would indicate -- everything works so well, so seamlessly, that the car doesn’t even draw attention to itself from the driver. It simply performs the requested duty, even if that duty is to display night-vision infrared in the instrument cluster and deliver a lower-back massage, all at 140 mph.
The S63 AMG may be the ultimate gentleman’s GT, possessing all the capability (and then some) of the highest echelons of luxury cars, but packaging it in a more demure cloak -- a true gentleman doesn’t wish to call attention to himself, after all. He simply demands the best.
Unlike certain high-performance German GTs (M6, cough, cough), the S63 AMG exacts no penalty for puttering. This coupe is exquisitely quiet and completely at ease in rush-hour traffic; meandering down Woodward Avenue at 40 mph with the windows down, and showing off the pillarless roofline is a delight. The car never seems unhappy to be operating at less than 9/10ths; the corollary is that it may be less capable at or above 9/10ths than a more purpose-built machine, but I don’t live at the end of a racetrack, and I’d wager most of our readers don’t either. A high-performance GT car that errs on the side of comfort and smoothness makes more sense to me.
Yes, it’s pricey for something with the three-pointed star, but it’s best to think of the S63 as an affordable Bentley alternative rather than an expensive Benz.
The two chromed twin tailpipes of the AMG sport exhaust system with sport flaps are perfectly integrated into the diffuser insert.PHOTO BY MERECEDES BENZ
WEST COAST EDITOR MARK VAUGHN: True story: During the week I had this blessed, smooth, triumph-of-German-engineering, long, tall drink of water, a guy I know who was actually in the demographic to buy such a thing asked my opinion about an impending purchase. He had just been awarded enough stock options to start his own small potentate and he was debating in his head between an AMG GT S, a Porsche 911 and something else, maybe an Aston Martin DB9. Those are all good choices, mind you, and he’d be happy with any of them (except maybe the 911, which, since they changed it, is too much like driving a piece of wood). While this guy knows more about the auto industry than I have ever read about in Automotive News, and while he has appeared many times in Automotive News, unlike me, I forgot myself for a second and spoke straight from the guts (somewhere between the gall bladder and the left kidney): “Don’t get any of those!” I blurted out. “Get an AMG S63 Coupe! It’s sooooo smooth, so cool, so well-engineered!” This set him back in his tracks about a block and a half. Me, too. So there we were, standing about three blocks apart, rhetorically. For not only is it slightly blasphemous to recommend something as luxurious as the AMG S63 Coupe to someone considering something theoretically more sporty, but who am I to toss my blatherings before such a luminary? Who am I? I’m the guy who was driving the AMG S63, that’s who I am. Or was, during our conversation. And indeed, unless you’re looking for the ultimate gran turismo, the notion of an AMG S63 is not so far removed from reality. At least not the reality of anyone with almost 200 large to drop on a car.
Though it weighs 4,678 pounds and would, by many definitions be considered a “tuna boat,” the AMG S63 gets 577 hp from its mighty 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8, with which it can overcome that mass and hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. It has a suspension so taut and refined that it manages to straddle the edges of both luxury and performance so easily that you forget all the specs and you just cruise. And cruise I did, several hundred miles in this coddling, swaddling luxury liner of a linkwurst. Sure, the back seats are awkward as heck to get into and out of, even for small people, and sure, I got only 17.5 mpg during the time I had it, but man oh man does it do everything else right. The look reminds me of the Maybach Exelero concept that I drove 10 years ago, but the sticker is about $8 million less.
And what else are you going to get, anyway? A Bentley? Well, yeah, the Bentley’s pretty nice, too, if a little too nouveau riche. An Aston Martin and/or Maserati? Well, yeah, those are both splendid, refined, sporty and everything else. So yeah, there are many excellent choices up here in this corner of the car market. Yet, for daily livin’ I am still recommending this car to this guy. I sent him an email elaborating on my recommendation. I haven’t heard back.
The new Mercedes has a 5.5-liter DOHC V8 engine.PHOTO BY MERECEDES BENZ
ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I can’t believe this barge gets to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. It hesitates for a full .25 seconds before it takes off, that means once it gets moving it covers 60 mph in 3.75 seconds? Doesn’t feel like it to me. It feels like a lot of bigger Mercedes’: fast and luxurious, but not quick off the line. But like Wes said, that 35-80 mph, or 70-100 mph jump? No one can keep up.
But it doesn’t really feel like an AMG to me. It’s not loud and the exhaust doesn’t scream like the rest. It was OK through tunnels, but most of the other Affalterbachs sound like frickin’ stock cars.
I was going to recommend getting the standard S coupe, skip those extra …130 or so horses, but now I’m wavering. The consensus in the office seems to be that if you can afford an S550 Coupe, you may as well get the S63 with the $40K premium. But that’s a full one-third more expensive. Do all S-class buyers have more money than Michael Jordan? I don’t know. I don’t think so. About 30 percent of buyers go with the AMG, by the way.
The S63 looks awesome. Ken and I were saying that if those wheels were in black, it would be one of the best-looking things on the road. A guy in a black Bentley GT rolled up next to me. I think he took a picture. The nose is super low, so you’ll have to watch that when parking. I’m not sure if those front parking sensors will catch it either. It has great proportions for a big coupe, and I love the big pillarless windows, just like the old CL coupe.
Inside, the S63 is a like a day spa. The massaging seats, which I used every single time I drove it, were great on a congested commute. A friend did note that the feature would scare her, because, “what if it got stuck like that?” I suppose that’s a concern, but probably not for a decade or so. The seats are infinitely adjustable, so a comfortable driving position is no problem.
Two customizable screens make up the main dash and gauges; they’re both bright and easy to read. I like that you can control them with the dial or the mouse pad. There are also redundant buttons on the suede-covered steering wheel. It has every bell and whistle you could imagine, meaning it’ll nearly drive itself. Steering assist, lane departure assist and radar cruise control will keep you out of most trouble. I tried out the night vision, pretty slick, but I’m not sure how distracting that would be in a real low-visibility situation.
It rolls down the road like buttah. Even in sport suspension mode, it just plows down the road and over bumps. It feels like it could drive through a brick wall. Steering is direct for a car of this size, maybe even a little heavy. The body doesn’t roll much, though; a quick lane change with a stamp on the throttle is very confidence inspiring.
The Bentley GT and Aston’s line both feel sportier to me than this S63. But this is the pinnacle of luxury, with a little sport thrown in. Would I personally pick it over an S550 Coupe, were money no object? Yes. Would I recommend it to someone who wants a big luxury coupe? Not unless they had LeBron James money.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: We (or maybe it’s just me) talk a lot about how old-school luxury -- luxury for luxury’s sake -- is hard to come by these days unless you’re shopping for a Rolls-Royce or Maybach.
Take, for example, a pair of old-school coupes like the Continental Mark II or the Bentley R-type Continental; add any Cadillac El Dorado into the mix if you wish. These cars were powerful and luxurious and anybody who saw you in one knew you’d capital-A Arrived. Yet marketers never felt the need to call them “dynamic,” and no one was under any illusions about driving one from the country club to the racetrack.
I’m sure Mercedes couldn’t help but drop the “D” word while promoting the S-class coupe, but whoever was responsible for this program had his heart in the right place. It’s as classic and as luxurious a grand tourer as you can buy today. Maybe think of it as the German version of what a modern take on the classic Bentley Type R Continental might have been … if Bentley wasn’t owned by the Germans.
Even in S63 AMG guise, the coupe has tons of quiet presence. Nearly 2.5 tons of it, in fact. Its sheer size and fairly restrained styling mask the fact that it’s quite a sleeper. It’s also very quick. It doesn’t always feel like it, though. The car packs 557 hp, and that’s a lot, even in these horsepower-rich times.
But delivery is perhaps just a bit too drama free, especially for an AMG product. That 5.5-liter V8 under that long, long hood doesn’t make the car feel blisteringly fast (which it objectively is, if you push it) so much as insures the car never feels slow. The distinction is subtle but significant. If BMW M-cars are clunky rocket ships, this is a very smooth supersonic jet.
There’s stuff I’d change. First, that huge digital instrument cluster feels a little clunky -- not because it’s slow or has bad graphics or anything, but because it’s just kind of plunked down into an otherwise flowing dashboard. Analog dials are cooler, anyway.
I’d also make the exhaust louder. Originally, I’d have asked for stiffer suspension (even in sport mode you’re quite isolated from the road here) and more horses. An S63 AMG S, perhaps. But that’s probably overkill. This car already does everything it needs to do, and it does it with exquisite competence. Opening up those pipes a little bit would be a nice reminder that, when you’re behind the wheel of this thing, you really ought to feel like you own the road.
Options: Designo black exclusive napa leather ($3,250); Driver assistance package including Distronic Plus with steering assist, active blind spot assist, active lane keeping assist, Pre-Safe brake with pedestrian recognition, BAS Plus with cross-traffic assist and Pre-Safe Plus with rear-end collision protection ($2,800); Night View Assist Plus ($2,260); Warmth and comfort package including heated wood/leather steering wheel, heated front center armrest, heated front door armrests and heated rear seats ($1,990); AMG steering wheel with Dinamica grips ($500); Credit for AMG exclusive format (-$175).
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