In an age when run-of-the mill crossovers claim to be luxurious, what, then, is an automobile like this Mercedes-AMG S63 4MATIC Cabriolet?
Certainly, this automobile is luxurious, but how does one define “luxury”? Yes, a convertible like this is spacious, powerful, and comfortable, but luxury is more than that. At its core, true luxury is novelty. It lies in the ability to delight and surprise.
This S63 delights and surprises in endless ways. The attention to detail throughout the interior surprises, from the machined Burmester speaker grilles to the detailed leather upholstery. Even the interior design is a delight with its nautical inspiration.
Looking at these images, it’s hard to convey the presence that the S63 commands. It’s instantly recognizable as a modern Mercedes-AMG, but in the context of traffic, its dimensions are unmistakably S-Class. Long and wide, the S63 is best enjoyed on the open road, not confined to city driving.
This test car’s blue paint and black wheels may not be the best mix of exterior colours, the abundant ivory leather makes a bold statement, especially when the top is down.
Standard AMG designates, like the engine configuration lettering on the fenders, make it obvious to status-seekers that this is a hotted-up Mercedes, but the AMG-branded exhaust tips and brake calipers are more subtle communicators of the muscle that lurks beneath the surface.
Spacious and refined, the interior is reminiscent of something more nautical. The sweeping design of the dash resembles something out of a motor yacht rather than a motor car. Two of the largest automotive TFT displays are fitted—one for the traditional dashboard information and another for the infotainment display. Legibility is excellent in most lighting conditions.
According to the company, the front seats have twelve modes of adjustability and while that may be true, the inclusion of Mercedes’ signature Air Scarf, which keeps your neck warm on cooler drives; a massaging function; as well as heating and cooling make it seem like these seats have infinite adjustability solely for the comfort of the occupants. If you can’t get comfortable in this S63, you probably need to see a chiropractor.
A rare commodity today, the S63 is a true four-place convertible, much like its nearest rival, the Bentley Continental GT Convertible. Indeed, four adults can enjoy this AMG with little compromise. Accessing the rear seats is easier with the top down, but second row passengers enjoy nearly the same levels of comfort and luxury as those in front.
This S63 surprises the driver and passengers with remarkably quiet operation whether the top is up or down. With the top up, it’s as quiet as a hardtop, partly due to the insulated top and dual pane side glass, but even with the top down, you can have a normal conversation at highway speeds.
At the touch of a button, both a spoiler at the top of the windscreen’s header and a blocker behind the rear seats deploy to better control air movement in the cabin. This aerodynamic package is thoroughly sorted and optimized for passenger comfort.
The roof articulates up and down at city speeds, but the controls are under the armrest. It’s lightly inconvenient, but all of the roof-related switches are located there, including the aforementioned aerodynamic device switch and a clever one-touch-all-windows switch. Very logical.
Trunk space looks limited, especially for an S-Class, a little compromised due to stowage space for the roof, but it easily accommodates a couple of carry-ons.
For audiophiles, the highlight is the gorgeous Burmester sound system, which could be the best installation of this system in any automobile.
Mercedes-Benz has a long tradition of implementing cutting edge technology and leading that charge is the S-Class. Night vision is a modest $2,900 option, and is very usable on country roads. Swarovski Crystal LED headlamps are a unique design feature, and with a $4,000 price tag, their value is perhaps in the eye of the beholder.
The oddly named Air Balance Package filters cabin air and atomizes one of four fragrances for the enjoyment of the passengers. One could overlook this option as irrelevant, but it enhances the motoring experience by engaging another one of your senses in a truly pleasant way.
Smartphone integration is limited to Bluetooth and USB audio, but the lack of Apple Car Play (or, perhaps, Android Auto as well) is inexcusable for 2017. Every single buyer of an S63 carries a smartphone and for those of us tethered to our devices, the Apple Car Play interface enhances the driving experience
Surprisingly, the powerplant is an oldie, but still a goodie. It’s the familiar, thoroughly modern, 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 from AMG, and here it makes 577 horsepower and 664 pounds-feet of torque from 2,250 to 3,750 RPM. You read that right.
While AMG’s 4.0-litre turbo V8 is making its way through the AMG line, it wouldn’t be right in this application because it doesn’t produce as much torque as this S63’s engine. There’s just enough rumble from the exhaust to satisfy.
The transmission is AMG’s clever seven-speed automatic, but with a clutch pack in place of a traditional torque converter, which allows it to be calibrated to act much like a dual clutch box with both smooth and rapid shifts.
Outright acceleration is surprisingly quickly and certainly the seamless 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system helps. Despite its over two metric tonne curb weight, this convertible is remarkably quick.
Zero to 100 km/h is possible in less than four seconds, free of any drama, and if you have enough road, the S63 hits its electronic governor at 250 km/h. With supercar levels of power come supercar levels of fuel consumption, of course, and this test car returned 17.9 litres per 100 kilometres in mixed driving.
Even with its size and mass, the S63 is a joy to drive. Steering, handling, and braking are excellent across the board, but you’ll never mistake this convertible for a sports car.
This very well-equipped S63 Cabriolet prices out at just over $209,000, and with similar configurations – drivetrain and four-place seating – the closest competitor to the S63 Cabriolet is perhaps the Bentley Continental GT V8S Convertible, but the AMG undercuts the Continental by tens of thousands of dollars, if not six figures. What the Mercedes lacks in terms of exclusivity, it certainly makes up for in robust, usable technology.
Performance treatments of luxury cars can often be overdone, but AMG has done a near-perfect job tuning this S-Class convertible. There is enough power, handling, and braking to amuse, but it’s never intrudes into the overall comfort and enjoyment of this S63’s open air motoring experience.