2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG first drive review

The Mercedes-Benz S Class is all new this year, and with it, we get an all-new S63 AMG with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. If there is such a thing as diamond icing on a platinum cake, this is it.

First things first: this isn’t a driver’s car, at least not in the way a BMW M3, or a Ferrari 458 Italia, or even a Cadillac ATS is. This is a car to be driven around in. At triple-digit speeds. Like a boss.

Not like a Seth Rogen/Andy Samberg «boss», either. Like a Fortune 100 chief exec. Like a head of state. Like Lucifer on a top-side vacation.

Luxurious and fast doesn’t even begin to describe the S Class. If you’re wondering where the Maybach line went, it was eaten by the old S Class, which molted and became the new S Class, and then grew a 577-horsepower, 664-pound-foot twin-turbo V-8 AMG heart and did a four-wheel drift around Maybach’s grave. The S63 AMG is an utterly fantastic place to be.

Spouse is happy about new S63 AMG purchase

Spouse is happy about new S63 AMG purchase

Fortunately, it’s that good no matter which of the four thrones you occupy. Yes, thrones. «Seats» doesn’t do justice to the world’s four best automotive places to park your ass. And then get it massaged, along with your back, with «hot stones», like there’s a tiny masseuse living in the cushions.

OK, Literambo, Enough With The Superlatives

If I went over the top for a minute there, it’s because everything about this car is over the top. The spare wheel recess in the floor of the trunk is made of carbon fiber, ferpetessake. Why? Because AMG wanted some practice with composites. (It also saves a few pounds over steel).

And this over-the-top-ness is based on one-upping the already impressive S Class, a benchmark for technology and luxury.

The Drive

Not all of the S Class’s advanced tech makes it to the S63 AMG, however. Instead of Magic Body Control, the S63 AMG makes do with an adjustable Airmatic suspension. Although it can’t see and adjust to the road ahead, it’s still supple yet firm, controlling body motion without upsetting the ride.

Traction seems inexhaustible, even on the rain-soaked autobahn where I spent much of my time with the car. The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system has a fixed torque split, sending 2/3 of the power to the rear wheels, 1/3 to the forward axle, no matter the conditions. This rear-biased setup helps keep the driven front wheels from creating torque steer or other nasty all-wheel-drive traits.

Steering isn’t exactly precise, though it is accurate. There’s nothing about the helm of the S63 that makes you want to chuck it into a curve and hang on. Rather, it suggests you might wish to get it pointed toward your destination and flatten the accelerator.

When you take its advice, it rewards you with acceleration like Jupiter’s gravitational pull and shockingly little noise to mar the experience outside of a gentle growl from under the  hood–until you put the car into Sport or Manual mode, where the computer decides you want to hear the twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 in action, and opens the exhaust’s flaps earlier and more aggressively, letting the S63 AMG bark just a bit at wide open throttle.

Inside AMG's Affalterbach engine assembly plant

Inside AMG’s Affalterbach engine assembly plant

Speaking of that engine once again, it really is the heart of any AMG, and despite the luxury, the technology, and the Master of the Universe feeling you get behind the wheel (and in the back seat), a lot of the magic lives under the hood. Why? Because AMG still holds to the «one man, one engine» philosophy (though there are a few women working on the line in Affalterbach these days).

Each V-8 is built by hand, from the ground up, in a surprisingly small facility.

The care and time that goes into each engine makes it clear that AMG still traces its roots back to the racing and tuning program that birthed it, despite now being a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz. But curiously, AMG’s new chief, Tobias Moers, says the 2014 S63 AMG isn’t built for the track (even though it offers available carbon ceramic brakes).

You could take it out and flog it at your local circuit, but why would you, when there are so many other AMGs better suited to the task? In your own garage even.  Next to your stockpile of caviar and last season’s monocles.

Inside AMG's Affalterbach engine assembly plant

Inside AMG’s Affalterbach engine assembly plant


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