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First drive: Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

First drive: Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG
AMG's first take on the new S-Class adds massive power and increased poise, without bringing AMG's more overt histrionics.

 



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| First Drive | Kitzbuhel, Austria | Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

The S-Class gets a sizeable boost in power, ability and equipment in AMG guise, and the new S 63 AMG is arguably the most rounded model in the range - combining super-saloon pace with epic refinement and comfort.

Key Facts

Pricing: £119,565
Engine: 5.5-litre bi-turbo V8 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, seven-speed automatic
Body style: four-door luxury saloon
Rivals: Audi S8, Maserati Quattroporte, Porsche Panamera Turbo
CO2 emissions: 227g/km
Combined economy: 27.0mpg
Top speed: 186mph (with optional driver's pack)
0-62mph: 4.4 seconds
Power: 585hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 900Nm at 2,250- to 3,750rpm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

Elsewhere in the Mercedes-Benz range the addition of an AMG badge to the boot lid isn't necessary to demonstrate that it has been fettled by the people at Affalterbach. It is with the S-Class, as AMG's take on Merc's luxury saloon is really rather subtle, extending to 19-inch alloys (or 20s optionally), deeper bumpers with larger openings and black grilles up front and a lower rear bumper at the rear within which AMG's signature quad exhausts feature. It's all so neatly integrated that it's relatively inconspicuous, which, given it's an S-Class, is a good thing.

Inside, it's a little bit more indulgent, with AMG-specific sports seats, a smattering of AMG badging - including one that removes the usual tacky italicised Mercedes script at the bottom of the steering wheel - an IWC analogue clock in the centre of the dash and embossed AMG logo on the centre armrest. The huge screens that make up the dash feature AMG-specific instrumentation too, plus there's plenty of perforated leather and carbon-fibre (if you've optioned it).

Driving it: 5 5 5 5 5

Ever since the previous S 63 took on board the 5.5-litre bi-turbo engine in place of AMG's naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 it's been a far more civilised proposition. That remains true in the new W222 S-Class, where the bi-turbo starts with barely any drama, it feeling more S-Class than AMG in its demeanour. The transmission does give some nod to AMG's involvement though, the AMG Speedshift MCT 7 speed unit not engaging with quite the smoothness of the conventional auto in other S-Class models - particularly at low speeds.

On the move it's all remarkably civilised; indeed the refinement is outstanding; ordinary volume conversation is possible well into three-figure speeds, while wind, road and engine noise are barely audible at all. Leave it in Comfort mode and the transmission is smooth, while the noise-liberating flaps in the exhaust remain closed. Opt for Sport and that changes, but it's not as marked as you might expect, the S 63's engine remaining relatively mute - even when pushed to its redline. Doing so reveals quite extraordinary performance, though it's the engine's 900Nm of torque that really dictates how it drives, the S 63's effortless, elastic response being its defining feature, especially when you factor its not inconsiderable bulk.

Not that you'd realise it from behind the wheel. This AMG gets Merc's Magic Body Control as standard, allowing the S 63 to deliver incredible ride comfort mixed with excellent body control. There's very little sensation of the masses involved, though opt for the Sport setting and Magic Body Control's party trick of eradicating speed bumps is removed - leave it in Comfort and it'll only do so at town speeds.

The steering is nicely, if artificially, weighted, its response accurate enough given the S 63's dual (if luxury-leaning) nature. It is not entirely devoid of feel, either. The paddle-shifted automatic gearbox remains frustratingly slow to act on your inputs, meaning less engine braking and more actual braking to remove the easily gained speed when reaching a corner. You'd need to live beside a mountain pass or have a commute taking in the Nürburgring to justify spending the additional £7,090 Mercedes-Benz asks for ceramic composite brakes, though.

What you get for your Money: 5 5 5 5 5

Along with the subtle AMG makeover inside and out - and the sizeable hike in output - the S 63 gains a whole lot of standard equipment. Sold in long wheelbase format only in the UK, the S 63 features Magic Body Control, a Burmester surround sound system, a panoramic sunroof and keyless go among its comprehensive kit list. Start adding all that to an S 500 and it wouldn't take long to reach a number approaching the S 63 AMG's list price.

Worth Noting

It may not feel like the overt, hot-rodded saloon that's been the case with previous AMG S-Class models, but AMG's attention to detail remains impressive. Helping with the performance is a drop in weight by around 100kg, that achieved by a number of measures including a lithium ion battery, lightweight wheels and even a boot floor that's been made of carbon fibre to save 4kg.

Summary

Usually, AMG's changes bring compromises elsewhere in a model's make-up, but the S 63 remains an extraordinarily luxurious, effortless and refined saloon at its core, simply adding greater performance and dynamism to the mix. The loftier price might push it above its S 500 relation, but do some man-maths and start spec adjusting it and the S 63 looks like something of a no-brainer. Merc's self-proclaimed 'best car in the world' might just be the fastest model then; take the badges off and few people will notice.


Kyle Fortune - 20 Sep 2013









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2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.



2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2013 Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 






 

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