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

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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.

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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

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Maxecat 19 September 2013

S class saloon

The S class saloon has always been a superb car in the lower specification versions. As the article says over 90% are sold with a diesel engine fitted, either the 3.0 litre V6 or 2.1 litre four cylinder engine. Even the ordinary S500 is far cheaper.
The problem Mercedes faces in trying to sell this AMG version costing £119k is that you can buy an identical looking car for half that price. If you bought a Bentley or similar everyone knows it cost over £120k.

Roadster 19 September 2013

I reiterate that the Mercedes

I reiterate that the Mercedes may be a better car, and its material quality may be superb, even class leading, but it does not excite me by its styling inside or out, you don't get a sense of excitement or well-being looking at it or sitting in it. It, and virtually every German car, do not possess a sense of occasion, style or desirability unlike British cars, regardless of whether a car is considered good looking or not. Compare the interior of a R8, 911 or SLS to either a F-Type or a Vantage and you'll see my point. Or park a XJ or Ghost next to a S-Class, 7-Series or A8. The British cars ooze style and class which only Italian cars can rival.

And the fact that nearly every car from a British company is either top, or close to being top, of their respective classes is merely the icing on the cake.

Conte Candoli 19 September 2013

USA vs. Olde Worlde

There is no getting away from the fact that the new S Class Mercedes with all its engineering overkill is the best car in the world.
Or is it?
I think the Tesla is the shape of things to come.
This car makes a lot more sense than the traditional European luxury liners.
Who would have thought a few years ago that the Americans would lead the car industry into the future.