At this moment in time, the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG can probably claim the crown as the ultimate hot rod of full-size sports sedans.
With a new V-8 engine that develops 518 horsepower and a base price of $127,000, not counting the gas-guzzler tax, delivery charge and options, the S63 is not for everybody, but we think we know the target for this very bad boy.
Yes, we say bad boy because we see the S63 as essentially a guy thing.
Consider these numbers: Mercedes claims that the new S63 will rip to 60 mph from a dead stop in 4.5 seconds. Only a few sports cars can stay in the race with that kind of performance. And there’s a visual clue for the cognoscenti , four fat tailpipes sticking out the rear.
Now, I’m not saying that women don’t want to drive powerful cars , my darling wife and daughter would dispute that , but the S63 is just so macho that it’s hard to see a female executive buying one.
The S63 seems destined to fill a slot in the automotive collection of an entrepreneur or professional who needs to maintain a certain air of decorum , hence the attraction of the distinguished Mercedes sedan , but is a real closet risk taker beneath the dignified exterior.
The S63 is the definitive velvet hammer, able to perform extraordinary feats, yet with a refined attitude.
The new 6.3-liter engine is one of the most powerful naturally aspirated production V-8s. Constructed from a high-strength silicon-aluminum alloy, the engine is capable of fast internal speeds and reaches redline at an amazing 6,800 rpm.
It features four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing and a variable intake manifold. Designed exclusively by AMG, Mercedes’ high-performance division, the engine shares no parts with other Mercedes-Benz engines. A first for a production engine, the cylinder bores feature a new coating process that results in low friction and running surfaces that are twice as hard as conventional cast-iron cylinders.
The consequence is an amazingly lusty engine that whips the large S63 into a frenzy of activity at the nudge of the accelerator pedal.
The S63 is equipped with active suspension, which adapts not only to the road surface, but also to a variety of vehicle dynamics, such as braking and cornering. What’s impressive more than anything else in the S63 is its agility.
In pushing it hard in varying situations, I was amazed by its poise. The S63 also maintains the reputation of the Mercedes S-Class as the ultimate Autobahn cruiser.
The S-Class just feels more solid at high speeds than any other vehicle on the planet. This is where size, weight and engineering that optimize the platform for speeds in excess of 100 mph come into play.
The Mercedes driver’s seat added another dimension. It features active technology that inflates the seat-back bolsters in direct response to the movement of the steering wheel. In other words, upon a left turn, the right-side seat bolster suddenly expands to counter the centrifugal force of the turn and keep the driver snugly in place. When whipping through a series of turns, it seemed like the S63 and the driver become one unit.
While the suspension provides amazing vehicle stability, if the driver selects the least aggressive setting, the S63 provides a butter-smooth ride.
In fact, in this mode, you’d never know you were driving a killer sports machine.
You’d expect a lot of luxury content in the S63. Looking at its long list of standard features and the included options in the test vehicle, I’m hard-pressed to think of any real luxury features that are missing.
Complaints about the S63 are few. As in all Mercedes-Benz products, the center console that controls numerous functions is not especially user friendly. But I must admit that I was more concerned about extracting some of the S63’s mighty performance potential than fine-tuning the audio system.
Cordell Koland is an automotive journalist based in California’s central coast. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Price as tested: $135,235.
Type: 6.3-liter V-8.
Horsepower: 518 @ 6,800 rpm.
Torque: 465 foot-pounds @ 5,200 rpm.
Fuel economy, automatic transmission:
City: 11 mpg.
Highway: 17 mpg.
Curb weight: 4,665 pounds.