by Gerhard Horn
Nothing says "I have money" quite like the 2021 Mercedes-AMG S63 Convertible. Sure, Mercedes-AMG also makes the GT Roadster and the SL, but even these renowned model don't offer the same blend of brutal power, sheer decadence, and presence of the S63 Cabriolet. To find a rival, you have to turn to the Bentley Continental GT Convertible and Rolls-Royce Dawn, but these follow a slightly different recipe.
The S63 Cabriolet has a split personality. It can be just like any other S-Class: silent, serene, and lovely to touch and interact with at any kind of speed. But when the road is clear, and the sky is blue, you can drop the top and ride a wave of noise and torque, both delivered in abundance by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that generates 603 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes-Benz claims that your heart rate is much lower in an S-Class, but punch the throttle here and a 3.4-second 0-60 mph time is enough to get the heart racing in possibly the ultimate performance display of luxury and opulence.
The all-new S-Class Sedan made its debut recently, which means a fresh version of the cabriolet is due within a year or so. Indeed, Mercedes-AMG confirmed that 2021 is the final production year for the cabriolet and the coupe for the USA, so changes are limited. Cirrus Silver is now part of the color palette and the standard Premium Package now includes Active Multicontour front seats with a massage function, variable seat heating, and a surround-view camera system.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG S63 4MATIC Cabriolet||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
Even now, near the end of its life, the S-Class Cabriolet still looks superb. It's a large car, but the exterior proportions are perfect. The AMG-specific upgrades include a Panamericana grille, 20-inch alloys, and quad tailpipes. While these additions are welcome, AMG didn't take it too far and it still retains a classy demeanor. Overall, the styling is still two-door grand tourer rather than sports car. There's only one model in the range, and the Mercedes-AMG S63 Convertible sports LED lights front and rear, a three-layer soft-top, soft-close doors, and an electric trunk. For the US-spec model, 20-inch AMG five-spoke wheels reside in blistered wheel arches, giving the S63 definite presence.
The Mercedes-AMG S63 Convertible is a big car. Overall length is 198.9 inches, and within it sits a 115.9-inch wheelbase. The overall width is 83 inches with mirrors and 74.8 inches with the mirrors folded in. At 55.6 inches tall, it sits a good 3.6 inches closer to the ground than the S-Class Sedan, indicating its bias towards athleticism. It also has an additional inch in the front and rear, giving it a wider, lower stance. These are subtle design cues, but they work. The S63 Cabriolet weighs 4,817 pounds.
Mercedes-AMG's hand-built 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 is a masterpiece. It's used in various applications and is ideally suited to whatever Mercedes uses it for. In AMG's wide variety of performance vehicles, it delivers tire-shredding performance, and we suspect the 4.0 will go down as one of the best internal combustion engines ever developed.
In the AMG S63 Convertible, it's tuned to develop 603 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. The latter is available from just 2,750 rpm. This engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic that sends the power to Merc's 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system, which is the first hint that this isn't a tail-happy sports car like AMGs of yesteryear.
There are no traction issues off the line, as is the case with rear-wheel-drive cars that use this engine. The S63 simply hunkers down and hurls itself at the horizon relentlessly.
Mercedes-AMG claims it can sprint to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 186 mph.
The transmission is a beauty. In comfort mode, it simply blends into the background and swaps cogs imperceptibly. The shifts are more noticeable in the sportier modes, if only because of the noise on the downshifts.
Being a full-fat AMG product, the 2021 AMG S63 Convertible comes with the usual Sport+ and Race driving modes in addition to Comfort and Sport. Both the former settings open up the butterfly valves in the exhaust system so you can listen to the beautifully raucous engine. In Race, the stability control also allows for a bit more sideways action, though it doesn't suit the car. The S63 Cabriolet feels more like AMGs from 15 years ago. An absolute sledgehammer of an engine bolted into a plush body, much like the E55 from 2003, just with more grip and even more luxury.
The speed and noise dominate the experience, but the car can't entirely hide its dimensions or the fact that it weighs within spitting-distance of 5,000 lbs.
In our experience, the S63 is at its best in Comfort mode. The adaptive air suspension and AWD ensure that grip is maintained, and the steering weighs up wonderfully the faster you go. You can cover long distances at epic speed without even noticing it, which is what makes this more of a true Grand Tourer than rivals from Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
Given the performance potential, the poor gas mileage figures should come as no surprise. According to the EPA, the S63 Cabriolet is capable of 14/24/17 mpg city/highway/combined. We're willing to bet Mercedes-AMG wasn't hoping to win any economy awards here, but if you can pay more than $180,000 for a car, there's a good chance you won't be too bothered by these figures. The estimated range is far more critical because few things are as irritating and time-consuming as pumping gas. Thankfully, you should be able to get a reasonable 359 miles from the 21.1-gallon tank.
Unlike Mercedes-AMG's other high-end drop-top cars, the S63 can fit four. As a 2-door, the rear legroom is tight, and we don't see those seats being used often, perhaps on a lazy Sunday when you want to take the family for a short coastal drive.
The real party is in the front, where both driver and passenger get multi-contour seats with heating, ventilation, and a massage function. Getting in and out is easy, thanks to a set of large doors, especially with the top open. The driver also gets a memory function for the seating position, steering column, and side mirrors.
With the roof up, the S63 Cabrio has 12.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity. That's a good figure and more than enough for daily tasks. With the roof down, the trunk capacity drops down to 8.8 cubes. If you want to go away for a weekend, careful packing will be required. Thankfully, Mercedes includes a functional trunk partition, so you don't have to worry about loading so much luggage that the roof won't fold down.
As you'd expect from any car wearing an "S" badge, everything is electronic. The roof, trunk, and windows are all operated at the touch of a button. Interior storage is good thanks to large door pockets, a sizable storage bin underneath the front armrests, and a rear center armrest with two cupholders that fold down between the rear outboard seats.
Retailing at over $180,000, there isn't much left on the options list as the standard specs are very, very impressive. Both driver and passenger get 12-way power-adjustable seats with heating, ventilation, and massaging. Merc's Airscarf is also standard, allowing you to drive with the top down even when it's starting to get a bit nippy outside. Other niceties include dual-zone climate control, soft-close doors, a 64-color ambient lighting system, and a universal garage door opener. The Cabriolet boasts the same advanced driver assistance features as the previous-generation S-Class, including blind-spot assist, lane keep assist, attention assist, and a surround-view camera system for easy parking.
Mercedes also offers a $2,250 Driver Assistance Package, adding 14 additional driver assistance features. These include adaptive cruise control, active steering assist, evasive steering assist, and route-based speed adaptation, to name a few.
Merc's dual 12.3-inch screen setup made its debut on the previous-generation S-Class. One screen serves as a digital instrument cluster, while the other takes care of infotainment. This setup is now available almost across the entire Mercedes range, making the S-Class Cabriolet feel less remarkable.
It still looks good but uses the older COMAND interface. As a halo product, we expected Merc's latest MBUX software, but alas, you still have to interact with the system via a touchpad, an older version of voice control, and steering wheel-mounted buttons. Thankfully, Mercedes kept adding the newest connectivity features as the years passed. Hence, it comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth streaming, two USB ports, HD Radio, SiriusXM, and navigation. The standard sound system is a 50-watt, 13-speaker Burmester setup, but you can upgrade to a 24-speaker system with 1,190 watts.
While the 2021 AMG S63 Cabriolet has no rating from J.D. Power, as an almost entirely unchanged product from last year, the 74/100 Quality and Reliability rating should still hold true. Just one recall has been issued as part of a mass-scale Mercedes recall for inaccurate vehicle location for emergency services, a problem that affected more than 1.2 million Mercedes models in the US alone. The S63 Cabriolet is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile all-inclusive warranty.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has a safety review for the Mercedes-AMG S63 Convertible. High-end cars like these tend not to be crashed, but we have no doubt it's a safe car. In addition to the standard safety features, you can also look back at Mercedes-Benz's history of being industry leaders in this particular segment.
As standard, every S63 comes with ten airbags including rear-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags, stability and traction control, tire pressure monitoring, and pop-up rollover bars. You get attention assist, blind-spot assist, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, pre-safe, and a surround-view camera system on the driver assistance side, while a slew of assistance features provide even more intervention as part of the Driver Assistance Package.
This close to the end of its lifecycle, you'd expect the S63 Cabriolet to feel old. It also doesn't help that BMW and Bentley introduced newer, more advanced models in recent years.
Still, this car remains so utterly satisfying, hardly feels dated, and its 4.0-liter V8 is more vocal than the similar units you'll find in the Bimmer and the Bentley.
Mercedes has never been shy about aiming directly for Bentley. It seemed silly to take aim at a hand-crafted car with such a historic badge attached to it, but somehow Mercedes managed, review after review, drive after drive. Bentley charges around $40,000 more for the entry-level V8 Continental GT Convertible, and we're not 100% convinced it's worth it. High praise, indeed.
There's only one model to choose from, with the price of the AMG S63 Convertible pegged at a $185,400 MSRP. This excludes the destination charge of $1,050. Looking at the price of its competitors, the Bentley Continental GT Convertible starts at $222,085. BMW's M8 Convertible is roughly $40,000 less expensive, but we reckon its sporty setup will appeal to an entirely different personality type. The stiff M8 just doesn't do wafting half as well as the S-Class Cabriolet.
There is only one model to choose from, so it will depend on how crazy you want to go on the options. We'd have ours in elegant Emerald Green with a tasteful Beige roof. AMG's 20-inch black ten-spoke alloy wheels are too good to pass up, but we wouldn't bother with any of the styling packages. The Saddle Brown/Black designo interior is worth paying for, but the standard Black Poplar wood inserts look just fine. And because the S-Class is meant to be the epitome of technology, we'd add the Burmester High-End 3D sound system, Driver Assistance Package, and Night View Assist Plus. The total cost of this particular specification is $201,760.
These cars appear to be rivals, but they're pretty different. Both are four-seater convertibles high-up in their respective manufacturer lineups, but the concept's execution is different.
The M8 Competition Convertible is lighter and smaller, capable of sprinting to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds. The Bavarian is also better in the corners and has a more modern interior. Mercedes still provides a more luxurious interior, however.
The BMW is much more aggressive in its setup, and we're not 100% convinced that it's what people want. Once you lose the roof, a vehicle's structural integrity is usually compromised, which is why we'd always prefer a more luxurious setup. If the primary consideration is power, the BMW is a must. If, however, you want a blistering yet comfortable drop-top wafter, the S63 Cabriolet is a more accomplished car.
Usually, when Mercedes takes the fight to Bentley, it uses the Maybach moniker. The fact that the S63 Cabrio manages to do so without that name is a testament to how great it is. The S63 outsprints even the W12 Continental GT, but the Bentley is better to drive. It weighs a bit more, but it does a better job of disguising its heft.
In terms of interiors, both are comfortable and equipped with a host of standard features. Mercedes gives you more, but Bentley gives you almost endless customization possibilities.
Owning a Bentley is more alluring and might be worth the additional $40,000. However, the Bentley is relatively bare in spec, and when you start getting to work on the configurator, the Continental GT's price will soar.
Whichever car you choose, it will be epic. Since the Mercedes is going out of production, we'd have the Bentley.
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