You cannot simply tell someone you drive a Mercedes S-Class. It’s one of those vehicles that has transcended the gap between the general public and the enthusiast. “Ah, an S-Class,” they’ll say. “Must be nice.” And it is! It is very nice, whether you simply recognize it as a luxury icon or can identify this particular S-Class as the new W222. Often, it’s the required follow-up information that helps distinguish gawker from gearhead. This particular model is has been given special attention by the craftsman in Affalterbach. It is no ordinary S550. This is the S63 AMG.
The S63 belies the AMG stereotype. It is not, to borrow a phrase, an axe murderer with headlights. The S-Class is, first, a luxury car. The team at AMG have not disrupted that purpose. They’ve just added some spice to a very tasty recipe. On the outside, the S-Class sports all new bodywork for 2014. The S63 only subtly differentiates itself from “lesser” S-Class sedans. The front fascia is more aggressive than the standard car, with larger air inlets for cooling purposes. On its flank, the small “V8 Biturbo” badge hints at the changes below. Our tester’s optional black, 20″, forged 10-spoke wheels, and the massive AMG-badged brakes behind them, were the most noted visual cues. Around back, like all AMG, the S63 is finished with a rear diffuser and quad exhaust tips. The new S-Class is a stylish behemoth and the S63 adds just enough aggression to be different without being obscene.
The S-Class has always been a technical powerhouse, the benchmark for automotive advancement, and this one is no different. From the standard AIRMATIC air suspension the optional Air Balance Package, there’s technology here that will eventually trickle down to the masses. That Air Balance Package, by the way, is an combination of ionizing and charcoal filters with a fragrance atomizer stored in the glovebox. Not only is the cabin air pure and controlled, at set intervals the atomizer disperses one of three available scents through the HVAC system. It’s the nicest $350 air freshener you could possibly ask for. To add to the comfort, heated and ventilated active multi-contour front seats with massage are standard. There’s a lot of adjectives there. Not only are the seated heated and/or cooled (they’ll do both simultaneously), the side bolsters automatically inflate to keep you held in the seat. The Warmth and Comfort Package adds heated and ventilated rear seats. Not only that, Mercedes has solved the problem of cold elbows with heated front arm rests on the doors and a heated center console lid. If that wasn’t enough, the same package includes detachable headrest pillows for the rear occupants to use as seen fit.
Mercedes’ list of standard and optional driver assistance technologies is industry leading. Standard park assist, rearview camera, adaptive highbeam assist, adaptive brake technology, and collision prevention assist are ever-vigilant to aid the driver in piloting the S63. Our tester featured the Driver Assistance Package, Surround View Camera, and Night View Assist Plus. Mercedes’ adaptive cruise control is more sophisticated than “average” radar-based systems. It works with the lane-keep-assist technology to track the car in front and follow it through turns as long as your hands are on the steering wheel. The Night View Assist can be activated at any time, providing a forward-looking infrared image in the driver display. At night, this system automatically activates and tags pedestrians or wildlife in red boxes to alert the driver of potential hazards. It is, by far, the most advanced and seamless integration of technology that we’ve ever witnessed. That isn’t to say it’s all easy to use. The infotainment system is immensely complicated, even for tech-savvy users. After a week with the car, we still had to refer the manual, to figure out how to operate some features. If you’re lucky enough to take delivery of a new S63, be sure to take advantage of a multiple delivery schedule. There’s a lot to learn navigating through the dual 12.3″ screens.
The materials inside are top notch. Our S63 featured the pricy Exclusive Nappa Leather option and Exclusive Trim Package. They added extra leather and wood everywhere. The dashboard, for instance, was a finely crafted blend of wood, aluminum, and stitched leather. The detailed leatherwork on the wide seats was also hugely impressive. To set off the entire cabin, the S-Class makes the most over-the-top (in a good way) use of ambient lighting. Multiple color and brightness settings allow the driver, or passenger, to enjoy whatever tone that fits their liking. At night, it’s like cruising around in “Club Benz”. Of course, a good club wouldn’t be complete without a good sound system. At $6,400, the Burmester High-End 3D Surround Sound System is the most expensive option on our S63 AMG. The clarity and quality of sound, the mix of levels, it’s all just perfect. Find a high-quality recording and you can fool yourself into thinking that it’s a live performance.
Piloting the S63 is an experience, there’s is no other way to put it. It’s actually impossible to be uncomfortable. As we said, the S63 is still an S-Class, so it’s still a luxury sedan. Behind the wheel, it still feels like a big car. At low speeds, the steering is on the lighter side and the 124.6″ wheelbase gives the S-Class limo-like properties. But there’s a monster under the hood. The “V8 Biturbo” badge eludes to the 577 hp, 5.5L twin-turbocharged V8 that has been hand assembled in Affalterbach. Sometimes you need 677 lb-ft torque. In a big car like the S63, this one of those times. Acceleration is borderline ridiculous for a car that weighs over 4,800 pounds. 60 miles an hour is dealt with in 3.9 seconds according to Mercedes. Don’t fret, those of you who are worried about AMG turbocharging their engines. That noise that you’re hearing is that same 5.5L BiTurbo V8 wailing out towards redline.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the S63 AMG is how civilized it is. With air suspension and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, its’ drama free. Push deep into the throttle and the S63 accumulates speed like the Millenium Falcon jumps into hyperspace. One minute there isn’t any, then suddenly there is. If you don’t keep track of the speedometer, you’ll find yourself barreling into a corner at twice the speed you’ve estimated. When you get there, the brakes and suspension work in tandem to help reign in the power and get the car turned thru the corner. In case you had forgotten, you’re behind the wheel of a big car. Large paddles behind the AMG Performance steering wheel control a 7-speed automatic transmission. It’s not a dual-clutch unit like you’ll find in a sportscar, so it won’t always execute the fastest shifts. But the S63 is not going to tear up the back roads like a Porsche Panamera Turbo. When the corner comes to an end however, the 677 lb-ft of torque are ready to bend the laws of physics once more.
Living with the Mercedes S63 AMG is a bit of a selfish exercise. We’ve had wheel time in a number of rides that offered unique ownership experiences. Life with a sportscar like the Chevrolet Camaro or Corvette, for instance, is about sharing experiences with others. Life in the opulent Bentley Continental GTC V8S was about pomp and admiration. In the S63, for the most part, the only people who can share in its experience are your three passengers. There’s a lot more to the S63 AMG than those three letters on the trunk, but those three letters are really what get this Mercedes S-Class noticed.
The powerhouse that is the 2014 Mercedes S63 AMG leaves little to be desired. It presents itself as a luxury car first and a sportscar second. You cannot fault it for that because it is executed perfectly. This S-Class is a technical and safety marvel, the epitome of craftsmanship, and comfortable beyond any need. It is a car that is meant for drivers and passengers alike. It is, in fact, all the car you will ever need…and then some.
|2014 Mercedes S63 AMG
|Black/Black Exclusive Nappa Leather||$4,450|
|Burl Walnut Wood Trim||N/C|
|AMG Performance Steering Wheel w/ DINAMICA Side Grips||$500|
|Night View Assistant Plus||$2,260|
|20″ AMG 10-Spoke Forged Wheels – Black||$2,200|
|Exclusive Trim Package||$950|
|Burmester High-End 3D Surround Sound System||$6,400|
|Warmth and Comfort Package||$2,600|
|Surround View Camera||$900|
|Air Balance Package||$350|
|Driver Assistance Package||$2,800|
|As Tested MSRP||$163,835|