by Karl Furlong
With last year's demise of the V12-engined S65 Convertible, the S63 now takes over the mantle as the most opulent Mercedes-Benz convertible you can buy (yes, the AMG GT R Roadster is even more expensive, but that's an all-out sports car, not a luxury yacht for the road). The S63 doesn't give us much time to lament the loss of the V12, though, as it is an immensely powerful and luxurious drop-top. With 603 horsepower and 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive, almost 5,000 pounds worth of metal, wood, and leather will crush the 0-60 mph sprint in a mere 3.4 seconds. Sharing much with the S-Class sedan, the S63 Convertible drives sublimely over even scarred road surfaces, while the exquisite cabin caters to your every whim. With so much weight and power, it's not light on fuel and Tesla drivers will likely give you the stink eye for polluting the planet. If those aspects don't bother you and you have the wherewithal to buy one, though, it'll take a Rolls-Royce to lure you out of the beautiful S63.
This year, Mercedes has made the AMG Drive Unit available as an option. This system places key performance controls such as the damping mode and the exhaust system on the steering wheel where they can be more easily accessed.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG S63 4MATIC Cabriolet||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
Although replete with AMG-specific upgrades like the vertical-bar grille, 20-inch alloy wheels, and quad trapezoidal tailpipes, the overwhelming impression is still more of a luxurious grand tourer than a sports car. The long hood, flared side sills, and the sheer size of the S63 all blend together beautifully. All-LED exterior lighting evokes a modern feel, while the three-layer acoustic soft-top with power operation doesn't detract from the flowing lines. An electronic trunk closer and soft-close doors are welcome features that you expect at close to $200,000.
The S63 Convertible casts a considerable shadow with a length of 198.9 inches. It's 83 inches wide including the side mirrors, something you feel along narrow driveways and lanes. The wheelbase is 115.9 inches long and the height is 55.6 inches. At 4,888 pounds, the S63 is over 100 lbs heavier than the less powerful S 560 Convertible.
It's another AMG masterpiece. The handcrafted 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 produces a thunderous 603 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque, with that torque figure available from a low 2,750 rpm. This legendary powerplant is paired up with a nine-speed automatic transmission that transfers power to all four wheels via the 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system.
Without the traction issues that afflicted the rear-wheel-drive S65, the S63 simply hunkers down and takes off without drama, blitzing through the 60 mph mark just 3.4 seconds after taking off. It'll reach its top speed of 186 mph much quicker than you'd imagine, as that V8 just keeps hauling. The transmission is imperceptible at light throttle openings, but comes alive in sportier driving modes when drilling the S63. It's a truly monumental powertrain.
The S63 grips hard and can carry tremendous speed through a twisty road, but you can't completely get away from the fact that it weighs almost 5,000 lbs. It tries its hardest to make you forget in Sport+ or Race mode, though, when the exhaust system takes on a chilling note and the gearbox flicks through its ratios at blazing speeds. In the right settings, it does feel like a proper AMG in the way the engine and sheer speed dominate the experience, even if it's softer than the more compact C63 coupe. The steering rack is precise and gains added weight as you progress from Comfort into the racier driving modes.
Flip over into Comfort mode, and the Airmatic adaptive sport suspension reveals the dual personality of the S63. The bigger, low-profile tires do transmit a few more bumps into the cabin than in the S560, but most of the time, it's a beautifully refined and smooth drive. The soft-top has been engineered to be as quiet as a hard-top coupe and on the move, very little noise makes it into the cabin.
You don't get from zero to 60 in 3.4 seconds without having to pay some kind of price and, in the S63's case, that means heavy consumption figures of 15/24/18 mpg city/highway/combined according to the EPA. That city figure is especially heavy on the wallet. With a 21.1-gallon gas tank, expect a combined cruising range of about 380 miles.
Seating four, the S63 Convertible offers gorgeously plush seats. Those relegated to the back won't fully be able to enjoy them, though, since the rear legroom is noticeably tight. Space is much more abundant in front, where both the driver and passenger get the benefit of active multi-contour seats with massaging, heating, and ventilation - the latter feature isn't as effective as expected, though. Ingress and egress are simplified by the large doors, and even getting into the back requires less effort than in most other two-door coupes. For the driver, convenience is aided by a memory system for the seat, steering wheel column, and the side mirrors.
The electrically-operated roof eats into an already limited cargo area. With the roof up, you will find 12.4 cubic feet of space available (which is actually more than in the coupe) but with the top down, that figure drops to a much tinier 6.9 cubes. An electronic trunk closer and hands-free trunk access make it as convenient as possible to load cargo in the trunk, but an especially useful feature is the electric trunk partition; this system makes it easy to tell whether (when the roof is up) you've loaded too much cargo for the top to be closed.
Interior storage space is in line with the S63's grand tourer image. There are well-sized door pockets, a large center console, and a rear center armrest that houses cupholders.
As Mercedes' most luxurious convertible, the S63 is lavishly specified. The pampering starts with 12-way power-adjustable front seats with heating, ventilation, memory, and massaging functions. The excellent Airscarf neck-heating system improves comfort when driving with the top down, as does the dual-zone climate control system. Features shared with the S63 luxury sedan include 64-color LED ambient lighting, soft-close doors, a garage door opener, and an electronic trunk closer. The safety specification is one of the most advanced in any car, encompassing blind-spot assist, lane keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, attention assist, and a surround-view system. Despite all of this, you can still reach even more deeply into your pockets and add options like heated rear seats, heated front armrests, evasive steering assist, and automatic speed takeover.
With dual 12.3-inch screens (one for the digital instrument cluster and one for the infotainment display), the S63's sci-fi cabin can come as a bit of a shock to more senior, less tech-savvy buyers upgrading from an older model. The COMAND system utilizes a touchpad controller, a rotary knob, and one-touch keys that are reasonably intuitive. There are a plethora of ways to connect to the system, be it for accessing your apps or playing music; Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth audio streaming, dual USB ports, an SD card reader, and a 10GB music register are all standard. Wireless charging makes it easy to keep your smartphone charged, while HD Radio, SiriusXM (with a six-month all-access trial), and navigation are included, too. A 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system is standard fare, but it can be upgraded to a 24-speaker unit. In-car wi-fi is also an option.
Last year, the S63 Convertible was rated a strong 80 out of 100 by J.D. Power. Considering the car's exemplary build quality, this is no surprise. According to the NHTSA, no recalls have yet been issued for the 2020 S63 Convertible, but last year, the model was affected by four recalls. Issues ranged from a seat belt incorrectly detected as unfastened, to an active driving system that may not detect a driver's hands are off the steering wheel, an active brake system that may not engage, and an oil feed line to the turbocharger which may leak, possibly leading to a fire.
Mercedes' new vehicle warranty runs for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. Coverage includes the powertrain.
Being a six-figure luxury convertible, the S63 hasn't been crash-tested by local authorities. However, considering that models like the E-Class have achieved superb safety scores, we have little doubt that the S63 would hold up well in a crash.
The S63's standard safety spec puts many rivals to shame, too. A total of ten airbags provides comprehensive occupant protection and includes side curtain airbags for the front passengers, a rarity in a convertible. Also included are pop-up roll bars, electronic stability control, and advanced tire pressure monitoring. Mercedes' advanced driver aids include attention assist, crosswind assist, blind-spot assist, lane keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, pre safe, active parking assist, and a surround-view camera system. A bevy of driver aids are available optionally, from radar-based cruise control to evasive steering assist, night-view assist, and active lane change assist.
The Mercedes-AMG S63 Convertible effortlessly assumes the role of the brand's most luxurious drop-top after the departure of the S65. With its all-wheel-drive system and incredibly powerful handcrafted AMG V8, the S63 is a remarkable performer for its size. At full throttle, it sounds and goes like a proper AMG, yet its duality allows it to serenely amble down the road like a car worthy of the S-Class badge. The spectacular cabin combines extravagant design with irreproachable quality and successfully integrates the latest technologies. Only rear-seat space is lacking, while trunk space suffers significantly with the top down.
Mercedes considers the S63 Convertible a rival to the Bentley Continental GT Convertible; while the British car is an even more exclusive offering, it starts at almost $40,000 more than the S63. We're not convinced it's worth that much more than the Mercedes - that's how good the S63 Convertible is.
The S63 is the only AMG-badged version of the S-Class Convertible and carries an MSRP of $183,500. This price doesn't account for tax, licensing, registration, and a destination charge of $995. The BMW M8 Convertible starts at a cheaper $142,500, although that car is more performance-oriented and can't quite match the S63 Convertible's grand cabin and luxury appeal. The Bentley Continental GT Convertible more closely evokes the S63's opulent style, but at around the $220,000 mark, it is quite a bit pricier. However, delving into the S63's vast options list and adding on extras like the Exterior Carbon Fiber Package ($6,500), the upgraded Burmester sound system ($6,400), and the Driver Assistance Package ($2,250) can quickly see it approach $200,000.
As you are restricted to just one powertrain (hardly an issue when that is a 603-hp V8), the S63 Convertible you end up with will depend on how crazy you go with the options. If it were us, we'd go for Anthracite Blue Metallic with the Beige roof and, just because a little excess makes sense on a car such as this, we'd add the headlamps with Swarovski crystal accents. We'd skip the carbon fiber exterior upgrades because even though this is an AMG, the emphasis is on luxury, not lightweight materials. The designo Black Piano Lacquer "flowing lines" wood trim is an especially decadent touch, and we'd pair this with Porcelain/Espresso Nappa leather. Throw in the Driver Assistance Package, and the final price with destination works out to $189,795.
Each of these cars represents the respective brands' most opulent convertibles. Starting at $142,500, the M8 Convertible is the more affordable option and it sports a 600-horsepower turbocharged V8. Performance is even more breathtaking than in the S63, with 0-60 coming up in 3.1 seconds (and just three seconds in the M8 Convertible Competition which has power upped to 617 horses). The lighter and smaller BMW is the more athletic drop-top, feeling more at ease in the corners than the S63, whereas the Mercedes is more luxurious. Both cars are cramped at the back (especially the BMW), although the Bimmer fights back with no impact on its cargo space when the roof is folded. The Mercedes cabin makes much more of a statement, though, in contrast to the M8's plainer layout. If you want the most dynamic convertible here, it's the M8, but we'd side with the S63 for its ability to make the driver and occupants truly feel as if they've arrived before even setting off.
The Bentley badge typically sits at the very top of the automotive food chain, more akin to being matched up against a Rolls-Royce, so the fact that the S63 Convertible is a legitimate rival to the Continental GT tells you everything you need to know about what a superb product the AMG is. Even in the W12 model (which takes the price to over $235,000), the Bentley won't be able to keep up with the rapid S63. Both cars do a stunning job of (mostly) concealing their heft (the Bentley tips the scales at over 5,000 lbs), but it's the British car that is a bit more involving to drive. Both are incredibly comfortable and have interiors fit for royalty. Whereas the Bentley is more customizable, the Mercedes is by far the better-equipped car with features like ventilated front seats, a neck-heating system, and lane-keeping assist - none of these are standard on the Continental GT. While there is no denying the allure of owning and driving a Bentley, the Mercedes does virtually everything just as well, but is a lot more car for less money. It's the German warrior that wins this battle.
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