What is it?
On paper, making a sporty Mercedes-Benz S-Class seems a lot like going mountaineering wearing a pair of stilettos. When we hear the words S-Class, attributes like limousine space, comfort, sublime luxury and a roomy, plush backseat comes to mind. But the S63 AMG coupe is anything but that. It is shorter, has only two doors, the front seats are given more precedence than the rear and it has a fire breathing 577bhp V8 motor under the long sculpted hood. With the S63 coupe, Mercedes has tried to make a car which not only shouts technology and top-notch quality but it also promises to possess style, supercar-rivalling performance and dynamics. But has the German giant succeeded in doing just that?
As far as the looks go it definitely hits the sweet spot. You can have the S-Class coupe in two variants – the standard one is the S500 with 4.7-litre 449bhp V8 or the even quicker S63 with 128 more horses. The S63’s combination of low stance, swooping roofline, long bonnet and short boot makes the car look on the move even when it is standing still. The signature large AMG grille, with the sculpted bonnet and chiselled bumper, gives the sporty ‘S’ a great presence. Although the rear design is more minimalistic, it looks clean and sporty enough to wear an AMG badge.
How is it on the inside?
The S63’s interior design theme leans more towards luxury than being sporty. The dash design is more or less carried over from the standard S-Class, but the AMG division has added carbon-fibre finish on the dash, livelier colour combination and loads of AMG badges. This results in a cabin which still exudes class but now has a lot more youthfulness to it. As with all recent Mercs, the cabin quality is top-class and it is hard to fault it in this respect. The huge front seats are just fantastic and the bolstering can be adjusted infinitely so that you fit just right. They are also ‘dynamic’ – basically the bolstering automatically adjusts to give you more lateral support while hard cornering. Although you can adjust its intensity, it is a bit slow to respond during quick directional changes. As the S63 has just two doors, getting in the back is not the easiest. Although on first impression the back seat looks cramped, there is a decent amount of space and it is quite usable. But the large front seats, a swooping roofline and small windows makes you feel claustrophobic. The boot, at 400 litres, is quite big, but the spare tyre eats into the luggage space and marks it down.
The S63, as expected, is loaded with high-tech features. Apart from regular equipment it gets a night vision camera, 360-degree camera, dynamic curve control, vario roof, a fantastic Burmester sound system and heads-up display.
How does it drive?
Let’s look at the numbers first. In our testing runs the S63 AMG took just 4.42 seconds to reach 100kph while 200kph was dispatched in an equally impressive 13.89 seconds. These numbers are staggering, especially when you consider the 5.5 litre 577bhp engine has to haul around 2070 kg of weight. Top speed, usual with German cars is limited to 250kph, and even when the limiter kicks in, you can feel a marked reduction in acceleration. Such is the pulling power of this fabulous engine.
For the most part, the S63 AMG’s V8 remains almost completely silent, whether at idle or low to mid-range revs, and unless you have an awful amount of space available, you will rarely get the engine spinning much beyond 4000rpm.
The turbochargers are very effective too and a peak torque of 900Nm is available from 2250rpm onwards and doesn’t let up until 3750rpm. This means power delivery is extremely linear and the response is immediate for a turbocharged engine. With the gearbox in comfort mode, the shifts are a bit laid-back with no jerks and is perfectly suited for normal driving. In sport mode the gearshifts on the dual clutch transmission quicken for more spirited driving. Although the gearbox is quick enough it still doesn’t feel as potent as the other DSGs we have experienced on rival cars. You can also drive the S63 in manual mode, where the gearbox sticks on to a gear, right to the engine’s redline till you pull the paddle to upshift.
With the S-Class, you expect the emphasis to be more on the ride than handling, but being an AMG the importance should be the other way round. Mercedes has tried to do just that, but they have just fallen short of nailing it. The main problem is that the S63 AMG doesn’t quite know what it wants to be – an ultra-luxurious cruiser or a big sporty coupe – and in the event it ends up being neither. The S63 gets Merc’s famed Magic body control, which prepares the suspension by scanning the road ahead using cameras. On most surfaces, the ride comfort is good, but it feels unresolved over large potholed city roads. Things do get better as you go faster but the S63 always feels heavy, the suspension feels a bit clunky and you are forced to slow down over road imperfections.
The S63 comes with loads of tech to make it carve corners in a way that defies its weight and size. To a certain degree, it succeeds too. In comfort mode, there is more body roll but as soon as you put it in sport, the dampers tighten up and the body movements are well controlled. But it is in the Curve control mode where the car leans into corners where it feels at its best. In this mode, body control is quite exceptional for a two-tonne-plus car. The car leaning into corners also mean the passengers feel less of the G forces and this makes it quite comfy during spirited driving. What is particularly impressive is that the S63 has loads of front end grip which gives you the confidence to push the car harder and the handling balance is quite impressive. But on the downside the steering peculiarly feels vague and lifeless, even though it is ultimately accurate to use.
Why should I buy one?
If you are ready to spare Rs 2.6 crore to buy a sporty yet comfortable car, then you should definitely consider the Mercedes S63 AMG. This Merc has a wide set of talents and that’s where its appeal lies. It is ferociously quick yet it is as easy to drive as any other Merc. The price might sound exorbitant but when you consider it rivals the likes of Bentleys and Rolls-Royce then the S63 AMG suddenly becomes of great value. Sure it struggles to either be a grand tourer or a sports car, but on its own, this Merc feels special enough even when you have to burn your pocket to buy one.
Where does it fit in?
The Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG doesn’t have any direct rivals. The closest rival is the Bentley Flying Spur which is Rs 80 lakh more expensive in the base trim.
Pics: Ameya Dandekar