JUL 23rd 2014

Driven: Mercedes‑Benz S63 AMG

Have you ever felt that your car’s seat isn’t massaging your back in quite the way you’d like? Or the ambient lighting is just the wrong shade of blue? Ever wondered why your car can’t ‘read’ the road ahead and adjust its suspension accordingly? Or maybe why it’s fast, but not quite GT-car fast..?

You probably ought to be driving the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG. The latest S-Class flagship continues the tradition of furnishing you with every luxury you could imagine, and even a few you couldn’t. The seats can massage you in seven different ways, there’s a decent-sized fridge behind the central arm rest, cup holders which can either warm or cool your chosen beverage, a choice of ambient in-cabin hues, seats that are so comfortable you don’t want to get out of them. The list goes on… and on.

On the road this fully-loaded luxury sports saloon completes the zero-to-sixty stampede in a mere 4.4 seconds, and, if you opt for the Driver’s Pack at £2760 (this increases the point at which the speed limiter chimes in) it will comfortably go on to 186mph. So it’s properly fast then. However, the engine’s might is equalled by its character; giving a satisfying, full-fat American-style muscle car roar as the revs rise under hard use. As with other AMG engines it is a masterpiece, and so’s the seven-speed 7G-tronic automatic transmission bolted on to the back of it.

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Climb into the car and hopes of a spirited drive seem at first inversely proportional to the vast expanse of quality leather, tv screens, seat controls, ample legroom, the fridge behind the rear armrest, the centre console… there’s just so much car! Even if the twin-turbo V8 can drag all that kit around, surely it will corner like a three-legged elephant after a heavy night on the sauce? This initial impression is further backed-up once you’re out on the road and you feel the car absorbing all manner of challenging undulations and imperfections so impressively.

However, when you reach a testing A or B road the big S-Class manages the impressive trick of feeling like a much smaller, lighter car; the levels of grip available far surpass what you’d consider necessary for such a large machine, and even the act of transferring the S63’s considerable bulk from side-to-side at speed doesn’t expose any weaknesses. Far from it. It turns-in well, holds its line beautifully thanks in-part to that lengthy wheelbase, and then lays down huge dollops of torque as it exits the corner. In fact, considering how much fun it is to drive, you almost wonder if a sports or GT car is necessary; It’s as good at engaging its driver on the twistier stuff as it is cossetting and entertaining its occupants over a long journey. It’s the closest thing on four wheels to a Lear jet.

So it’s supremely comfortable, GT-car fast, sounds great, grips and handles like a smaller car, is built beautifully, and is lavishly equipped. It’s very hard to find a negative point with it, but there is one. The bruising S-Class is big on everything, including the price.

The on-the-road figure is £119,835, and that’s for a bone-stock car with no options fitted, which is considerably less than a Bentley Flying Spur on one hand, but an awful lot more than an Audi A8 or a Jaguar XJL on the other. Add an Exterior Carbon Pack, ceramic brakes, Nappa leather, Individual rear seats, Night View Assist, and the excellent Burmester Surround Sound System and you’ll be piling over £29,000 on to the list price.

But, then again, what else is out there which gives you quite the same mix of absolute luxury and absolute performance? Not to mention the grins…

 

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