by Karl Furlong
Within every family, there's at least one rebellious child or cousin. The person with a little glint of madness in their eyes, the risk-taker, the one whose more conservative siblings look down upon them with disdain (or is that jealousy?). The AMG S63 neatly fits that description within the S-Class family. While every other model in the range is obsessed with following all the rules in the luxury sedan playbook and cocooning the driver and passengers in one of the most luxurious, quietest cabins in the world, the S63 wants to have a bit more fun than that. Under the hood is a handcrafted 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 with 603 horsepower, hurtling this cruise ship down the road to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds - no other S-Class is faster. The AMG 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system does a remarkable job of transferring all that grunt to the road and endows the S63 with more agility than other models in the range. And yet, the V8's fury and the AMG styling touches have done nothing to erode those typical S-Class qualities of insulation and a sublime ride, along with every available comfort and safety feature there is. The mischievous kids always stay out a bit later, and the S63 is the S-Class that'll ensure you always take the long way home.
With an all-new S-Class on the horizon, the current S63 goes into 2020 with no major changes.
With a price increase of $2,050 for 2020, the S63 now eclipses the $150k mark and tops out at $151,600. This price excludes all options, plus tax, licensing, registration, and a manufacturer destination charge. The BMW M760i xDrive is slightly more expensive at $157,700, but that does get you a 6.6-liter V12.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG S63 4MATIC Sedan||
4.0L Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
Despite the S63's viciously powerful engine and the clever 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system, this is still first and foremost an unflappable luxury sedan. In Comfort mode, one feels that you can cross hundreds of miles in a day without feeling taxed at all, such is the suspension's uncanny ability to treat bumps and road scars as if they weren't there. The electromechanical steering is also light for easy maneuverability, and the lack of feedback doesn't feel out of place as it might in a smaller car. Opening any of the windows can sometimes come as a shock because only then do you realize how much of the world the S63 shuts out.
By using the AMG Dynamic Select system, switching into Sport+ mode elicits an angrier bark from the twin-turbo V8, transmission shift times are reduced, and the adaptive suspension provides sharper responses. The handling is remarkable for such a large machine and grip is excellent, although the driver can sometimes feel more like a spectator than truly part of the action. A standard Race Start function is unlikely to be as important to the typical S63 driver as the 12-way power front seats, but it's there to achieve the fastest and most efficient takeoffs. The sportiest S-Class still doesn't quite feel quite as athletic as the BMW 7 Series, but the blend of comfort and composure is truly something to experience.
Even nearing the end of its life cycle, Mercedes got it so spot-on with the S-Class from the start, that it feels anything but old and outdated. In S63 guise, you also get to enjoy one of the quickest full-size luxury sedans in the world thanks to that glorious AMG V8 under the hood. Along with the engine's power, it makes a lovely growl and endows the S63 with a distinct character over lesser models in the range. But perhaps the S63's top achievement is how, despite its more aggressive style, grippy 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, and other AMG add-ons, it is still an S-Class in the way it glides down the road, pampers its occupants, and provides access to the most advanced technologies. The BMW M760i offers a similarly incredible breadth of ability; it, too, is a missile the one moment and a docile luxury sedan the next. Plus, the BMW has the novelty of that V12 engine. What it doesn't have is the effortless charm of the S63 that mere specification sheets fail to convey. The S-Class is still the benchmark - the S63 just adds another layer of performance to the mix.
You only have the choice of one S63 variant, but you can create a bespoke model by delving into Mercedes' options list. We'd specify our S63 with the beautiful black Piano Lacquer 'Flowing Lines' wood trim at $1,300 and the $1,100 head-up display. As this is the S-Class that you're most likely to drive yourself, we'd only upgrade to the cheaper $1,700 Rear Seat Package. The Driver Assistance Package, at $2,250, seems like decent value considering how much extra safety kit you get, so this would be our final addition for a final price of $157,950.
The fastest S-Class goes up against the fastest 7 Series (discounting the Alpina B7). Both of these German super sedans utilize twin-turbo power plants, but the AMG's 4.0-liter V8 is dwarfed (at least in terms of capacity) by the BMW's 6.6-liter V12. The Merc's engine is more exciting, but the BMW's V12 is silky smooth and suits the mega 7 Series. All-wheel-drive systems help each sedan complete the 0-60 mph run in comfortably under four seconds and each can carry absurd speeds through the corners despite their size. As is typical, the 7 Series is a sharper driving tool than the S-Class, and the Mercedes is a bit more comfortable - but neither is comprehensively outgunned by the other in these aspects. They also have supremely built cabins jam-packed with creature comforts, but the Mercedes wows you more upon first acquaintance. The AMG wins because it feels more special, but both are phenomenal luxury sedans at the very top of their game.
If Audi made an RS8, that car would be the perfect match for the AMG S63, but they don't so the S8 is the closest you can get. With a 563-hp bi-turbo V8 and a price tag of $129,500, the S8 is less powerful, but also cheaper, than the Mercedes. It's not much slower, though, and will complete the 0-60 mph sprint in 3.8 seconds (only three-tenths of a second off the pace of the AMG). With Quattro all-wheel-drive and dynamic all-wheel steering, the S8 can also perform tricks that defy its size and weight. Audi's superb virtual cockpit and the MMI touchscreen infotainment system impart a distinctly high-tech feel to the S8's brilliantly built cabin, but the S63 still feels warmer and more lush inside. Despite the S8 being cheaper, it has even more equipment: 22-way power front seats (the S63 only has 12-way power front seats), a 17-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system, and four-zone automatic climate control are all standard. The more understated Audi S8 will suit a more conservative buyer, and although the S63 wins the horsepower battle, it's hard to look past the newer and less expensive S8.
The most popular competitors of 2020 Mercedes-AMG S63 Sedan: