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Review

A 1000-mile weekend in a Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe

TG's Ollie Kew pops to Scotland and back in AMG’s luxury land yacht

  • The Mercedes-AMG S63 is pretty much the modern Benz flagship. Not as performance-y as an AMG GT, sure, but the combination of über-luxury, absurd power and the many, many thousands of pounds you’ll need to own all that pitch it awfully high in the Mercedes pecking order.

    Just how good a super-GT is it? Well, here’s another one of TG.com’s offbeat tastes of mega cars in everyday situations – following Ollie Marriage’s Christmas with a Bentley and cycling jaunt via Audi’s S8 Plus. A 577bhp S63 Coupe, and the need to get from mid-afternoon London to Edinburgh by dinnertime.

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  • I can’t see the dials. I’ve got hundred-way adjustable LA-Z Boys and an electric steering column, but once I’ve adjusted the driving position just so, the dials, rather ostentatiously rendered in mock-chrome LCD, are hidden. The top bits are, anyway. This means that revs beyond 3000rpm are a mystery. Speed above 60mph? No idea, your honour. Plus, some license sadist at Mercedes has ticked the £2760 option that raises the top speed limiter from 155mph to 186mph.

    To the options list again. Sanctuary! £1060 of head-up display beams the speed onto the windscreen, enriching my chances of maintaining my job and civil liberties by Monday morning. All told, the extras on this particular S63 bump the price from £125,605 to, (steady on) £161,705. So we should probably have a play with the toys, since we’re bumbling along in staccato West London traffic and the white line-reading, lane-obeying, sign-reading car is literally driving itself.

  • Ceramic brakes (£7090) are overkill for this part of London, even in a two-tonne matt-painted (£3650) 577bhp Benz. And we’re not pushing the design brief of the carbon fibre aero parts (£5000) and Swarovski-encrusted LED lights (£2860) either. It’s unseasonably warm though, so the variably stained-glass roof is handy for regulating light beaming into the cabin. For £4030, probably easier to just whack the air-con on, though. I’m concentrating on modulating the ceramic brakes. They seem to have been inspired by an old Citroen. Nothing, nothing…then apologise to my better half for walloping her face into the dash.

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  • Good lord is this car good at cruising. Fast cruising. You know how some cars have a speed they just settle at, a speed you’ll creep up to on a motorway where the power, battle against the air ahead and noise seems perfectly equalised, and everything just so? The S63 settles into itself magnificently. However, driving the big Merc isn’t the thoughtless lie-in-the-bath relax I thought it would be. Just looking at the throttle adds speed...

  • The car’s bladder is stronger than mine. I pull over in a random service station, and spend the next three minutes trying to actually vacate the car. The S63’s doors aren’t just long, they’re insanely thick. Well-fed plutocrats will do well not to park in close quarters with other tax haven residents, lest they become imprisoned in what is admittedly a lovely cabin to be trapped in.

    200 miles down, 200 to go. Haven’t really noticed them so far. It’s the eerie quietness, I think. So long as the 20-inch tyres aren’t rumbling along a high-friction surface, the silence inside the S-Class Coupe is uncanny. So it should be with doors thicker than Helm’s Deep walls. You could play music out of your iPhone and it’d sound like the Royal Albert Hall in here. But Mercedes has bolted in 23 Burmester speakers anyway. I’m hearing detail in The Big Bang Theory like never before. My passenger has become bored and switched on the digital television, which I can hear but obviously not see while driving, thanks to the clever two-way screen that beams me a map while she concentrates on Leonard and Penny.

  • One facility the S63 Coupe lacks is an on-board kitchen. After some brief research I can confirm a recently ragged twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 can not be used as a microwave.

  • Here’s something. The ride isn’t actually that pillowy. I’ve got the car in Comfort mode, with its forward-facing radar scanning the road ahead for bumps and supposedly setting up each shock absorber to iron it out. I’m told it works fabulously in the S-Class saloon, but this AMG Coupe is firmer, is intent on transmitting complaints about the North-East’s horrid roads into the cabin. It’s a long, long way from uncomfortable, but it’s not a magic carpet. And I can’t work out if the Active Curve Control, which tilts the car into a corner, really is working or if my brain’s playing a placebo trick. It certainly monsters slip-roads, but on the sweeping bends of the A702 that carve through the stunning Scottish countryside on the run-in to Edinburgh, the Benz feels big, and unwilling to be manhandled. Fair enough, it’s basically a private jet without wings, not an aerobatics plane.

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  • I’m three miles from the hotel before I lose my nerve and dive for a filling station. The car’s been claiming 0 miles range for the past half an hour. Still, an indicated 25.2mpg average over almost 400 miles is seriously impressive for a near-600bhp bi-turbo road train.

    It’s the lack of fatigue that’s totally uncanny about covering big distances in the S Coupe. It’s chewed 400 miles of congested motorway, wet A-road, city gridlock and deserted carriageway, and by rights I should be dead on my feet now, but I’m totally fresh. Much more so, I’d wager, that I would’ve been if I’d been cramped onto a train or muddled through the rigmarole of a short-haul flight between the UK’s most distant capitals. And as it’s now brimmed with super-unleaded, the S63’s unerringly ready for the return trip.

  • And it’s no soulless techno-overkill either. It’s not a perfect car. There are ergonomic gripes and it rides quite sportily. But it is the ultimate expression of the modern Mercedes-Benz, and a gloriously over-the-top piece of car-making. It brought me this view from Edinburgh Castle, too.

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