Driving the Mercedes-AMG S 63 Cabriolet is an event, whether you’re running with hood down along a sun-drenched boulevard on the French Riviera or pushing it to the limit on a lonely back road on one of the mountain passes used for the Monte Carlo Rally. For sheer opulence and sense of occasion it is right up there with the Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible.
In terms of outright performance and overall dynamic ability, though, it goes one better than its most closely matched high-end soft top rival, delivering a truly heady combination of pace and handling prowess – the likes of which I suspect few potential owners are ever likely to sample in full effect.
The sturdy reserves of the AMG-assembled engine make light work of the big open-top's 2110kg kerb weight, propelling it with effortless verve and truly muscular qualities. Huge levels of low-end shove endow it with terrific flexibility around town and consummate cruising ability out on the open road. Mechanical refinement is magnificent and the whole drive process operates with silken smoothness.
Open the taps to release the full quota of power along with a sturdy 663lb ft of torque and it also proves to be captivatingly rapid and engagingly boisterous. This Jekyll and Hyde persona is very much at the root of the appeal of the new Mercedes-AMG model, which is produced alongside other S-Class models at Mercedes-Benz’s main manufacturing site near Stuttgart in Germany.
The S 63 Cabriolet looks and sounds better with its multi-layered fabric hood folded away under a tonneau cover behind the expansive four-seat cabin. The large structure can be opened in just 20 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph.
The overall effectiveness of the S 63 Cabriolet’s V8 engine, seven-speed automatic AMG Speedshift gearbox and 4Matic four-wheel drive system is displayed in Mercedes-Benz’s claimed 0-62mph time of 3.9sec. This is 0.5sec faster than Bentley quotes for the 2495kg Continental GT Speed Convertible. The Mercedes’ top speed is capped at 155mph.
The appeal extends further than just its straight-line speed and inherent refinement, though. The big four-seater also steers with incisive directness and accuracy and its advanced air-sprung underpinnings provide it with a level of agility and body control belying its significant mass.
Granted, it is no sports car, but it can be hustled quickly along challenging back roads with a great deal of confidence. The body feels wonderfully rigid, with only the odd pang of scuttle shake spoiling its otherwise impressive deportment. Thanks to the effects of four-wheel drive, traction is never in doubt, while big brakes also ensure it stops quickly and reassuringly.
Although firmly sprung, the ride quality of the S 63 Cabriolet is impressive. Even on 255/45 front and 285/40 rear tyres it delivers excellent compliance and bump absorption. It is not quite as smooth over broken bitumen as the standard S 500 Cabriolet, but it is never unpleasant.