The Mercedes S63 AMG is the pinnacle of the new Mercedes S-Class range, at least until the bonkers V12 S65 AMG arrives next year, and we’ve driven it here in the UK for the first time.
A few extravagant options have hiked the extravagant £119,565 starting price of the S63 in our pictures to an eye-popping £139,735. That’s Bentley Continental Flying Spur territory, let alone the price bracket of more traditional rivals like the Audi S8 and Jaguar XJR.
You get plenty of power for your money, though, with the 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 producing 577bhp and a towering 900Nm of torque. The result is a 0-62mph time of just 4.4 seconds and, with the £2,760 AMG Driver’s Pack fitted, a top speed of 186mph.
However, despite the enormous firepower being sent to the rear wheels, the S63 doesn’t have the same knife-edged handling balance as its predecessor. Even on the wet and leaf-strewn country lanes we drove it on, it rarely struggled for grip. Combine this planted handling with a ride that absorbs even the worst holes in British roads, and you’re left with a feeling of near-effortless pace. Sometimes these fettled performance models can feel a little uncomfortable due to their larger wheels and firmer suspension, but Mercedes has managed to keep the excellent ride comfort of the standard car completely intact.
Still, this refinement does mean a slight reduction in driving involvement. The steering is light, with inconsistent weighting, while the seven-speed MCT gearbox feels old and slow to react to manual upshifts, often when you’re close to the red line.
It’s a bit disappointing that the 5.5-litre V8 doesn’t growl like you expect an AMG engine to – the noise is there, but it’s muted by this car’s excellent sound insulation. The other issue is the sheer size of the S63. It’s only available in LWB guise, being 5.4 metres long, so you’ll need a wide and open road to come close to exploring its limits.
Despite the high price tag, the AMG S-Class doesn’t look too ostentatious. Apart from the 19-inch alloys and wider grilles over the air intakes, the styling is identical to the V6 diesel’s. Thankfully, not much has changed inside, either, with the beautifully crafted, class-leading cabin featuring a stylish IWC analogue clock set into the middle of the dash and a large AMG logo on the central armrest. The big digital screen that sits behind the steering wheel has unique AMG ‘dials’, and everything from the solid metal shift paddles to the seat controls oozes quality.
Passengers travelling in models with the £3,510 Executive Pack back seats will feel as if they’re on a first class flight, and you can imagine thousands of miles passing by in total comfort. However, you get the same serene experience in the S500 – and even the diesel-powered S350. No one needs an S63 AMG when lesser models in the range are just as good, although plenty of people will want one – and that includes us.