From £124,9559
The new S 63 AMG is capable of 0-62mph in just 4.4sec, and it destroys its rivals in virtually every area

Our Verdict

Mercedes-AMG S 63

Never before has supercar performance and opulent luxury blended so seamlessly

Nic Cackett
18 September 2013

What is it?

The new Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG: the £119,565 answer to your supercar-fast, luxury-segment contender question. Oh, you weren’t asking? Well, Mercedes would appreciate it if you got a bit more inquisitive; AMG is aiming to sell more than 30,000 cars annually before too long, and that means every one of them – including its limo-size saloon – is going to need to count.

Admittedly the market for this particular model is going to be extremely small. The previous S-Class – a peach – found nearly 90 per cent of its business in oil burning form, and the sixth generation of it will likely prove no different. Even if you’ve got a particular hankering for serious petrol power, you have to leapfrog the very good S 500 L, at £86,840, to get to the S 63.

The S 500 L also has a turbocharged V8 engine, but what it doesn’t have – and this, frankly, is the key to grasping the AMG’s appeal – is the hand-built, 5.5-litre biturbo V8. With 577bhp. And 664lb ft from 2250rpm. Which, despite the two-tonne greatcoat, is capable of launching this S-dlass to 62mph in 4.4sec via the seven-speed Speedshift MCT, and on to 186mph if you’ve been clever with your choices on the options list.

Now, for the rest of Europe if not the UK, the manufacturer has decked the long-wheelbase S 63 (the only version available to us Brits) with its 4Matic all-wheel drive system, but as the right-hand-drive layout negates its deployment here, we get rear-drive only. Thanks to the dubious condition of our roads we also receive Mercedes’ new, technically highfalutin, ride-improving Magic Body Control as standard.

Its cause is helped along by a familiar spot of weight loss: the new model is around 100kg lighter than its predecessor thanks to forged 19-inch alloy wheels, composite brake discs, a lithium ion battery and a carbonfibre lining for the boot floor, and the diet plan is complemented by the inevitably bespoke AMG take on the S-class’s sophisticated multi-link suspension setup.

What's it like?

Fast, cultured, cleverly pitched and possibly a little too well mannered for its own good. Some of the talent on display is clearly inherited; your eyes and rear end will register the flared air intakes and superb AMG sports seats by turns, but the interior opulence, build quality and classy aesthetic were all present on the opulent ‘standard’ S-class we tested this summer.

Sparking up the V8 doesn’t initially send shivers down your spine, either. The S 63 gets an adaptive AMG exhaust which keeps its valves firmly shut on start up, and for much of the time when the car is in Comfort mode. Thus it crawls and queues with a buzzy, eight-cylinder hum, which blends seamlessly with the S-class’s refined and respectful ambience.

Thoughtlessly prodding it doesn’t immediately appeal, either. In the smaller, lighter E-class, the engine is a bladdering riot of a redline botherer, but here, anchored by greater heft and accessed via a long and sympathetically tuned accelerator pedal, it can be properly stroked along, turning millimeters of ankle movement into a slow, sonorous building of crank speed.

The result is carefully metered, self-indulgent and cocooned rapidness. Especially coming as it does with the unseen helping hand of the Magic Body Control, which uses cameras to scan the road ahead for notable bumps up to 80mph, and then hydraulically adjusts the suspension to smooth imminent impacts away.

Switching into Sport mode will deactivate the system, and truthfully this incentive – along with manual shifting – is needed if you’re to successfully extricate your mindset from the moneyed haze of the Mercedes' impulse power.

Making it to warp speed is predictably effortless on the autobahn or in a straight line (carelessly pinning the throttle will quickly and vividly render 155mph), but elsewhere some endeavour is required to overcome the languid effect of slightly overassisted steering, big weight and Costa Concordia footprint.

Nevertheless, once over the initial hump, the S 63 gets dainty in a hurry. Trust the front wheels to repay the steering wheel’s eventual faith in them (relayed in bulky, electrically acquired resistance rather than feedback), and huge speed is absorbed by the largely neutral stiffened chassis.

It’s telling that the set-up majors on stability and remarkable lateral grip rather than rear-bias fireworks, although its striking ability to keep its bodyweight under wraps without significantly reducing comfort puts it firmly in a class of one.

Should I buy one?

Any way you cut it the Mercedes-Benz S 63 can claim to be out in front of the field in some way or another. It has the best engine (with by far the most power), is the best to sit in, look at, listen to and drive conventionally or across a continent.

However, the new model proves more of a satisfying slow burner than charismatic barnstormer. It says much of the S 63‘s dynamic identity that Mercedes' inability to offer the even more steadfast (and flexible) 4Matic in the UK feels like a missed opportunity.

We’ve got used to advocating AMG’s products in a sudden rush of emotive vindication; wrapped up in their zany engine size, output and outright theatricality. This S 63, for all its talent, is the sort of car which needs its attributes summarising before the rationale for its supremacy becomes persuasive.

Very likely this is because Mercedes has opted, in its biggest, priciest saloon, to bury the barminess a little deeper than it has before in an effort to broaden the car’s appeal. And given that a peerless powerhouse of a limo has still emerged, we can hardly blame the manufacturer for that.

Mercedes S-Class S 63 AMGPrice £119,565; 0-62mph 4.4 sec; Top speed 155mph (186mph with Driver’s Pack); Economy 27mpg (combined); CO2 237g/km; Kerb weight 1995kg; Engine 8-cyl, 5461cc, twin-turbocharged petrol; Installation front, longitudinal, rear-wheel drive; Power 577bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 664lb ft at 2250-3750rpm; Gearbox 7-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
19

18 September 2013

"It has the best engine (with by far the most power), is the best to sit in, look at, listen to and drive conventionally or across a continent."

Given the price, and the likely cost of getting one at a reasonable spec on the road you'd think that buyers would also be thinking of the Bentley, especially given the AWD in most markets. When put in that frame the AMG no longer has the more powerful engine, nor the fastest, certainly doesn't have the status in most markets (the footballer thing is very UK-specific).

18 September 2013

If your minted,then, who am i to tell you what to buy?

Peter Cavellini.

18 September 2013

1995kg? What a coincidence...

The outgoing S63 AMG was also quoted as 1995kg. In reality it weighs a full 400kg more than that.

They might as well have quoted 1495, 995 or 495kg.

18 September 2013

overwrought, overweight, and overegged in every regard, much like the prose in this article.

The techno choked S-Class has found itself saddled with this rather weird undesirable image, in that the launch of every new model depresses the second hand price of existing ones, at which point villains snap them up.

It's become a strange sight in that it is supposed to represent the pinnacle of motoring, and yet is a mainstay of overpacked driveways and alleyways in the slummier parts of every town.

18 September 2013

The S63 may be a capable car and have fine build and a great quality interior, but like so many German cars, it's staid, dull and sober. Even if it's the best car in the world, I'd pick a XJ-R, Ghost or Flying Spur over the Mercedes just for their sheer style and desirability. Something British cars have in spades and the Germans don't. I don't want to feel like I'm driving around in a bank vault.

18 September 2013

How can Mercedes ask £120k for a machine that appears to be very similarly machine to the £95k Jaguar Xjr which (in my eyes at least) looks a lot nicer?

18 September 2013

Audi S8 is faster but its very nice!

Demonic Soul

18 September 2013

Actually this is the real deal, the others including the Bentley, are just pretenders to the throne. With or without awd, this thing will run rings round the Bentley, Audis, BMs and the XJ-R too dynamically.

18 September 2013

One thing it does not have is class, style and pedigree it would be great as a diesel taxi though, I am sure it is a good car but quite honestly, the bland banana looks and lack of desirability kills it in favour of a Range Rover, Bentley or XJ it will depreciate like the speed of a rocket.

19 September 2013

I beg to differ, this is an excellent car. Are you seriously saying an XJ with that hideous back and a front that is no different from the XF is superior? Let me not get started on the interior, ooh please.
Range Rover maybe cool for the London king pins but it is completely outclassed by the S Class AND for some reason I don't see the point of comparing it.
Merc made a monumental leap with this S, maybe the looks are abit conservative but then again, the Mulsanne isn't a great looker and I'm sorry BUT the S's interior is superior to the Mulsanne and to some extent even superior to the RR Ghost.
If this was british, I'm sure every brit would have praised it.

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