Being in S-Class territory requires more qualifications here than anywhere else. Even as an AMG performance machine, the S 63 is more dedicated to comfort and ease of use than almost anything else you’re likely to spend £130,000 on.
Mercedes’ Active Curve Tilting system illustrates this perfectly. Few manufacturers could develop an active suspension system that allowed a car to begin leaning into a bend ahead before you’ve even turned the steering wheel; fewer still would be at pains to point out that the system’s purpose isn’t to enhance lateral grip or handling manners, but simply to make life a bit more comfortable for cabin occupants.
The S 63’s steering wheel is light in your hands and flatly refuses to get heavy even under extreme loads.
There’s no serious shortage of grip, traction, balance or directional response, but the chassis and steering are tuned to act more as filters than conductors of forces from the tyres’ contact patches. Nuanced steering feedback and rear axle feel are casualties of that approach, while straight-line stability and resistance to bump steer benefit.
Driving the S 63 at that pace isn’t something it feels made to do, though, and you’ll take little pleasure from it. It’s no sports car, and the differences between one of those and a big, comfy coupé become clear as you approach and eventually exceed the car’s grip levels, which happens without knowing much about it.
The car’s ultimate security, controllability and composure are as good as they need to be but no better. The S 63 doesn’t communicate its limits clearly enough to make driving it hard an enjoyable act. It’s curiously easy, though, and that’s how it should be in this case.
So we won’t knock the S 63 for not being something it wasn’t intended to be: a genuinely sporting super-coupé. Our main criticism is that the Magic Ride Control system doesn’t do quite as good a job of keeping the car comfortable at faster cross-country pace as it does elsewhere.
The chassis copes well with longer-wave hollows and crests and does very well on motorways, but there isn’t the responsiveness or operating bandwidth to make the car float with the same calm above typical British B-roads when you tackle them with enthusiasm.