Friday 21 October 2016
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Test Drive: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Review

Test Drive: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Review

The hardest thing to figure out when you are reviewing a car like the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe is where to start.  My tendency is to start with the engine in a fast car like this, but this car is so innovative, I could start anywhere.

Let’s start with the amazing exterior looks of this car.  Very large, rear-wheel drive coupes are pretty rare other than Mercedes, which offers three of them.  The S63 AMG falls in the middle between the S550 coupe, and the 621-horse V-12 S65 AMG coupe.  At a glance, it almost appears to have styling cues from the Lincoln Mark VI from the early 1980s.  The sculpted sides, slopping roofline, 20” wheels, bold grill, and quad rear exhaust make this coupe unmistakably AMG.  Since the 1960s, Mercedes coupes have no pillar between the front and rear side windows, which gives the S63 an even sleeker look.

On a side note, AMG is the wholly owned performance division of Mercedes, and has a storied history of taking great cars and turning them into monster luxury cars, and they have been doing it since 1967.  AMG products are the fastest and most expensive vehicles in the Mercedes lineup.

Under the hood, there is a hand-made 5.5-liter Bi-turbo V8 that is pumping out 577-horses, and an amazing 664 pound-feet of torque.  Although hard to imagine, that combination thrusts this 4678 pound car from a dead stop to 60-miles per hour in 3.9 seconds flat.  That is a lot of metal to move in a very short period of time.  Top speed is 186-miles per hour.

This huge engine is moved by a 7-speed automatic transmission, which you can shift from steering wheel paddles.  You have a choice of Sport or Comfort modes, and the Sport mode throws this car into a whole new realm.  The exhaust sound is mesmerizing.

My test vehicle is the 4Matic, Mercedes version of all-wheel drive. A 33-67 front/rear torque split assures an ideal balance of power delivery under hard acceleration and coming out of corners. ESP Curve Dynamic Assist enhances high-speed cornering with torque-vectoring to help prevent unwanted under steer.

As engaging as the engine is, the interior of this car is nothing short of amazing.  I am not sure I have seen a nicer one, even in the Rolls Royce I reviewed earlier this year.  The off-white Nappa leather is stunning from the moment you open the door, and the mixture of real wood and brushed aluminum give each of the four individual seats a feeling of being in a Ritz-Carlton.  After just a week of driving, I can see where the off-white carpeting would be tough to keep clean.

The active multi-contour front seats each feature adjustable lumbar supports, side bolsters and shoulder supports for custom-tailored support. Active side bolsters can be set to automatically increase lateral support in cornering maneuvers, or even in the event of a potential accident. It takes a little getting used to, but there is a certain level of comfort when you throw this beast into a hard curve.  Six massage programs can soothe and rejuvenate the lower back for long trips.  Even the steering wheel with controls has a luxurious look and feel to it.

As you would expect in a car of this caliber, the S63 comes with an amazing array of standard features.  Most notable are the panoramic full-length moon roof, power rear sunshade, heated and air-conditioned seats, soft-close doors, navigation system, a color heads-up display, and a Burmester sound system.

When you push the start button to ignite the engine, a 12.3” vivid color monitor comes to life and has amazing graphics.  Everything runs from the Comand system which gives you access to entertainment, navigation and convenience features. The central controller falls naturally to your hand, teaming an intuitive touchpad with a rotary knob and one-touch keys for major functions. The touchpad responds to a variety of finger motions, including swipe, pinch and even handwriting. Carousel-style on-screen menus mimic the movement of the rotary knob, making adjustment of the car’s features logical and easy, with a minimal learning curve.

One first-ever feature for me in this car is the Cabin Fragrance system.  The S63 has an elegant, LED-backlit vial in the glove box and its own ductwork. A standard fragrance atomizer offers a dimension of cabin ambiance. Any of four distinctive, yet subtle aromas is gently atomized at periodic intervals into the cabin in such a way that it neither lingers on the cabin surfaces nor stays on your clothes. The vial is easily replaced when you’d like to change scents, or you may fill it with your own favorite fragrance.  I have to say, that is pretty cool.

My Anthracite Blue tester has only a few options.  For $2260, it has a night vision camera that projects invisible infrared beams and reads them with a special camera. Combined with thermal imaging, the system can display a clearer, supplemental real-time view of the road ahead in the digital instrument cluster, either full-time or automatically when danger is detected. Its advanced technology can also help identify and point out pedestrians and animals along a dark roadway, and help alert pedestrians with a flash of the LED headlamps in their direction.

It has the $1990 Warmth and Comfort package, which is a heated rear seat, heated steering wheel, and get this…heated front armrests.

Lastly, there is the $2800 Driver Assistance package, which features Distronic Plus.  This radar-based cruise control adapts your set speed to the flow of traffic ahead, automatically slowing until your path is clear again. If the vehicle ahead slows to a stop, the system can brake your car to a full halt. When traffic moves, you can resume with just a tap, or automatically if the stop is under a second. The system’s Steering Assist feature helps the driver keep the vehicle centered in between the lane markings while cruising on straight roads.  You also get blind spot monitoring, and active systems to stop the vehicle if pedestrians get in front of the car, at slow speeds.

Once you get to know all the systems in this car, it is as close to a self-driving car as you can purchase today.

On a couple of other notes, the back seat looks tight, but the front seats slide electrically to make ease of getting in and out more comfortable.  The trunk is massive also.

This car is extremely impressive, and honestly, it should be with an MSRP of $172,000.  It can be a luxury cruiser, or it can be your muscle car when you want it to be.  The only knock I can find on the S63 is the steering wheel blocks much of the color, programmable gauge cluster.  Otherwise, it is an amazing machine.

Fuel economy is 15 in town, 23 on the highway, about what you’d expect for a 577-horse car that weighs almost two and a half tons.

Get yourself a lottery ticket, and if you win, rush to your local Mercedes Benz dealership and get yourself a new S63 AMG coupe.

What I liked most:  Power, interior, and exterior looks.

What I would change:  As mentioned, steering wheel blocks the gauges.

MSRP: Base price $160,900, as equipped $171,950. 

Fuel Economy:  EPA rated at 15 City/23 Highway, 18 Combined.

Fuel Tank:  21.1 gallons.

Dimensions:  199” long/83” wide/56” high.

Weight: 4678 Pounds

2015 S63 AMG Coupe in a few words:  Beauty and the Beast!

Trailer Towing:  N/A

Warranty:  4-year/48,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance. 

Car Pro Rating:  5 out of 5 Stars.

Miles When Tested:  7900

Manufacturer’s website:  Mercedes S63 AMG

Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz