It’s fair to say the experience most Mercedes-AMG S63 owners will enjoy differs somewhat to that of a meagrely paid motoring magazine staff writer spending a mere week with the car in order to deconstruct its abilities.
Their house will be worth more for a start. And they probably won’t have to spend ten minutes driving around looking for somewhere large enough to park their S63, squeezing close enough to a kerb to avoid blocking a narrow road but far enough away so as not to scour a diamond-turned wheel rim.
It always comes as something of a shock just how enormous the S-Class feels when doing normal-car things given the rate at which it moves when doing evo-car things. Now using AMG’s ubiquitous 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 in place of the old 5.5-litre unit, and a nine-speed transmission instead of the old seven-speeder, the S63 still returns figures to rival smaller models in the AMG range: 450kW, 900Nm, and the ability to hit 100km/h in 4.3 seconds from rest.
Sink pedal to carpet as you pass a national speed limit sign and you’ve just a moment to contemplate what’s next before the AMG Speedshift gearbox kicks down and vehicles turn from distance dots on the horizon to streaks past your side window, like hitting hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon. On slippery winter tarmac the traction control struggles to contain all that brawn, but the long wheelbase endows the S63 with a stable feeling even when the rear end begins to step out.
The brakes are powerful, even if the pedal feels set up more for ease of operation than maximum feedback and modulation. There’s also strong grip, though the S63 doesn’t hide its size as well in turns as it does under acceleration. You’re always aware of how wide the car is for a start – often by the distant ‘tuk… tuk… tuk…’ of catseyes under your offside tyres. Select Sport or Sport+ and body control is very impressive for such a large vehicle.
It’d be a push to describe the S63 as agile, and on slippery roads the car’s mass and relatively quick steering rack can sometimes overcome turn-in bite, leading to a brief moment of push from the front end. Steering accuracy is hard to fault, though once again isolation has been prioritised over interaction.
But that’s just fine. There’ll always be the question of ‘why?’ surrounding a car like the AMG S63, to which the counterargument will forever remain ‘why not?’ The most impressive thing isn’t its performance (barely believable though it is), but that its basic ingredients ensure it remains one of the world’s best luxury vehicles in spite of AMG’s fettling. The ride shades virtually anything else on the road, while the engine is effectively inaudible unless you wake it up with a heavy right foot or the exhaust button on the centre console.
The S63 is a thrill more for its incongruous speed than anything more tactile, but you’re unlikely to begrudge it this when slipping into its cabin with a long journey ahead. Wherever you attempt to park it when you get there… Antony Ingram
Engine V8, 3982cc, twin-turbo
Power 450kW @ 5500-6000rpm
Torque 900Nm @ 2750-4500rpm
0-100km/h 4.3sec (claimed)
Top speed 250km/h (limited)
Weight (dry) 1940kg (232kW/tonne)
Basic price $375,000