The Mercedes-AMG S63 puts the grand (thousands of them) in a grand touring coupe. This big new model from the newly formed subbrand — Mercedes-AMG, the high-performance division of the star-emblem German automaker — is a platinum standard among the mainstream luxury-class competition.
Mercedes-Benz now makes the most luxurious cars in the $100,000 to $200,000 segment, a focus intended to prevent current owners from defecting to Aston Martin, Bentley, Maserati or elsewhere to get their bespoke superluxury in a superliner.
The S63 coupe, with aluminum-intensive construction and standard all-wheel drive, gets by with a 577-horsepower, twin-turbocharged and direct-injection 5.5-liter V-8 with seven-speed AMG SpeedShift dual-clutch automatic transmission. With 664 foot-pounds of torque from 2,250-3,750 rpm, AMG cites 0-60 mph acceleration in about 3.9 seconds.
But for the buyer who walks into the dealership and says, “I want the best you’ve got,” there is the C65, with twin-turbocharged 621-horsepower V-12, starting at $231,825.
Pricing for the C63 starts at $161,825 and extras on the test car pushed the sticker to $176,090, including the $925 freight charge from Sindelfingen, Germany. Among its options were Designo Nappa Leather ($3,250), a Burmester 3-D surround sound audio system for $6,400 (an upgrade from the standard 13-speaker Burmester). The Driver Assistance Package ($2,800) layers on Distronic Plus steering assist and lane-keeping assist (to help keep the car between the white lines) with active pedestrian recognition, cross-traffic alert and presafe braking with rear collision protection.
There are technologies and privileges on the S-Class models that I didn’t appreciate until testing. For example, who couldn’t get accustomed to heated front door armrests? The cabin environment is scrubbed clean with the ionized, filtered and scented Air Balance Package, available with a variety of fragrances. Something else you didn’t know you needed, but I wasn’t fond of the sweet scent of Freeside Mood in the test car.
Occupants are cushioned with power multicontour seats that move the side seatback bolsters to cradle occupants in a safe position.
Despite the potent V-8, performance is forceful, not visceral. This is a luxury four-seat tourer, not a sports car. But the Airmatic suspension raises the speed possible to barrel into corners and still have remarkably flat control. There’s also an upgrade for Magic Body Control, which has a curve-tilting air-suspension function and Road Surface Scan. The car will lean into a turn while maintaining cabin comfort; the scan uses a stereo camera to watch the road to tell the suspension to get ready to adjust. This may all seem unnecessary until it is experienced — and back-seat occupants do not have to brace their champagne flutes.
Sport mode sharpens shifting and accelerator tip-in, but, mercy, it is merciless on mileage. It’s not that this owner will care, but it will be the frequent visits to the filling station that get old — or the visits by his or her garage tender to the filling station.
Fuel economy is hopeful at 15 mpg city, 23 highway or 18 mpg combined. I’m sure I was averaging much less, and at times it seemed as if this 4,678-pound cruise missile had a teacup for a gas tank, when it is generous at 20.7 gallons. And it should be noted that the 2015 model is 144 pounds lighter than before and gets better mileage.
There is a lot going on with neuron safety sensors beneath the skin, but the networking did not intrude in my driving experience or in the saturation of Mercedes luxury in the cabin.
A lithium-ion battery replaces the standard engine-cranking battery and there is a secondary battery to power cabin functions during auto stop-start intervals when the engine idles. I hope replacement (if needed) is included in the bumper-to-bumper warranty of four years or 50,000 miles.
Friends won’t complain about riding in back, with heated seats as full-bodied as those in front. There is good footroom and comfortable back angle, but there’s no grab handle to leverage exits.
You know luxury when you see it and Mercedes’ S-Class line has raised the expectations — and the C63 is a showcase of the company’s best. But it isn’t the accumulation of equipment that balances price. It is how the luxurious materials are styled and installed that go beyond traditional automotive parameters.
You may have always felt it could be this refined, this gracious but wondered why it was never done. With a $100,000 budget, much can be overcome.
Mark Maynard is online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage