From £124,955
Subtle looks, far from subtle performance

What is it?

Mercedes Benz’s performance division, AMG, has had a bit of a tinker with its S-class flagship. The changes are mainly cosmetic, with a redesigned, more aggressively beaked grille, LED daytime driving lights unique to AMG, tail-light LEDs arranged in a double C pattern and a body-coloured rear diffuser. There are also gorgeous new 19-inch multi-spoke wheels, but overall, the big S retains a fairly subtle profile.

What’s it like?

Slightly less subtle is the monster performance on offer. The S 63 retains the previous version’s 6.2-litre V8, which gives the two-tonne Merc the necessary poke to reach 62mph in just 4.6 seconds.

Compared to its more refined, genteel S 65 V12 sibling, the S 63 is the swaggering hoodie of the family. AMG boss Volker Mornhinweg describes it as “more sporty, more raw, more loud.” Well, that’s a pretty eloquent description: get hard on the throttle and that V8 transmogrifies a fairly subdued low-speed woofle into a hard-edged, hammering wail as the needle swings to the 7200rpm rev limit. Shifting through that ultra smooth (and quick) seven-speed automatic with the requisite flappy paddles, the S 63’s straightline performance remains titanic.

Which brings us neatly to the new S 63’s most significant dynamic upgrade. Asking a two-tonne lump of steel to go around a corner with anything approaching poise and agility is inevitably a losing battle with physics. However, AMG has invested the S 63 with the amusingly named Torque Vectoring Brake. This brakes the appropriate inner rear wheel during cornering to help the car turn in with more conviction. But while the big S does corner with a reassuring degree of plantedness and security, there’s always that point when you think ‘ah yes. Two tonnes.’

Other fresh mechanical tweaks include a crosswind stabilisation function based on the car’s Active Body Control – sorry, couldn’t find a crosswind to test this one – and a variable ratio steering set up, which felt very natural with first-rate feedback.

Should I buy one

The S 63 is all you’d expect of an S-class – funereal quiet when you’re not playing silly buggers with the throttle, and enough standard equipment to (almost) justify the circa £98,000 price tag.

Gavin Conway

Join the debate

Add a comment…
A R Chen 18 June 2009

Re: Mercedes S-Class S63 AMG

I realize it is a matter of taste but the spindly wheel design clashes with the car's lines and design theme. Are AMG trying to mimick Alpina?

I do love the noise the exhausts make, though!

Citytiger 16 June 2009

Re: Mercedes S-Class S63 AMG

NiallOswald wrote:
'Flappy paddles'? Is that a technical term?
No I believe its a "Clarksonism" I think he was the first journalist to use the term and its become used industry wide now to describe them, it will probably end up in the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. I am more concerned with this line, - The S 63 is all you’d expect of an S-class – funereal quiet when you’re not playing silly buggers with the throttle. Should you really be playing silly buggers with a £100k car? This car was designed to go down autobahns at speed, not to be thrown around test tracks playing silly buggers, I would suggest that anyone who has the money and the inclination to buy this car probably has something else to play silly buggers in.

rjtrjt 15 June 2009

Re: Mercedes S-Class S63 AMG

I'm not keen on any daylight running lights period.

but I'm sure the engine isn't boring , I run a cl 63 amg and am very happy with it.