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Review: 2018 Mercedes AMG S63 Coupé

Driven June 2018

Review: 2018 Mercedes AMG S63 Coupé

What is it?
It is basically, a two-door, four-seat version of the all-conquering Mercedes S-Class – formerly known as the CL – that competes with the Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB11. A big, soft GT-car designed to do big distances without throwing out your lower back. An S-Class you drive, rather than get driven in. We like it very much indeed.

Besides a set of OLED taillights and a ‘Panamerica’ grille (as seen on other, newer AMGs) for the AMG S63, there are no real aesthetic changes. None that you’ll notice, anyway, which ought to keep owners of the outgoing model (and incredibly similar-looking E-Class Coupe) reasonably happy. The same is true of the interior – the steering wheel and screens are new, but they’re nothing we haven’t seen in other Mercs, or radically different from what was there before. If you’re familiar with the current E- or S-Class, you’ll be right at home here.

Most of the changes are under the skin. The AMG S63 gets a new 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 engine that’s more powerful and, thanks to cylinder-deactivation, more economical than the 4.7-litre engine it succeeds. And of course there’s the latest in semi-autonomous driver assistance tech, including the newest version of Merc’s adaptive cruise control that can slow the S for roundabouts, tolls and upcoming junctions.

Mercedes AMG S63 exterior

What is it like on the road?
And it’s those driver assistance systems that, by and large, dominate the driving experience. There’s a lot going on in the S-Class, but happily most of its systems are so well integrated you’d never know it was doing half of what Mercedes claims. The one exception would be the active speed limiter which, if you’ve got the cruise control set, pegs your speed at whatever the car thinks the limit is. Sometimes it is wrong, and tries to slow you to 30 in a 70 or speed you up to 80 in a 50. Annoying, yes, but nothing that can’t be solved with the tap of one of the MANY steering wheel buttons. Besides, shouldn’t you be paying attention to what the limit is anyway? That said the Driving Assistance package is optional and well worth having (you don’t buy an S-Class to skimp on options) – it gives you the full suite of Mercedes’ excellent safety and assistance systems.

The AMG S63 gets a 4.0-litre V8, but this time with 612bhp and 889Nm torque, 0-100kph in an entirely adequate 4.6 seconds and a 250kph top speed. The S63 sees a nine-speed automatic gearboxes.

Of course the AMG is shoutier, its engine-note more hard-edged and responses immediately. The AMG comes with Magic Body Control suspension – which leans the car into bends like a motorcyclist and scans the road ahead for speedbumps, potholes and so-on. Even though there’s mighty performance on offer from pretty much any variant, just as you’d expect the S is more adept at rapid distance-demolishing rather than joyous switchbacks.

Mercedes AMG S63 interiors

Layout, finish and space
We immediately stepped into the S, and while the quality of the leather, switchgear and layout naturally catch your eye, what really highlights the difference in interior quality between the S Coupe and a ‘normal’ Merc is the clickwheel. While both use one to control their infotainment systems, the one in the S-Class feels heavier, more satisfying to use and operate. BMW’s iDrive feels exactly the same in a 1 Series as it does in a 7 Series, so we commend Merc for going the extra mile. Because these little things matter.

The dashboard is gorgeous and the technology it houses first-rate. The front-seats (which, like those in the convertible, have a vent in the headrests that blows hot air at the back of your neck) are among the most comfortable fitted to any car, and though access can be a bit of a pain, you can sit a couple of adults in the back without soliciting too many complaints. Ambient lighting gives a choice of 64 colours, the optional high-end Burmester stereo is needlessly capable and the twin 12.3in displays are easy to muddle your way around and configure to your liking. This interior responds especially well to bright leathers, so we’d urge you to stay clear of black and go for something else – anything to bring out the stitching/quilting.

The boot isn’t massive, but there’s more space back there than you get in either the Bentley or Aston.
Mercedes AMG S63 rear
Our Verdict
Beautifully engineered bits of kit that nail the brief – brilliantly capable long-distance GTs that are fast, loaded with cutting-edge technology and, if you go for the right spec, actually quite subtle. One of the most cosseting, relaxing things to drive everyday – not quite as special as its flash, handmade competitors, but at a fraction of the money you can’t complain.


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