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.