Video review: 2018 Mercedes-AMG S63 Sedanby Drew Johnson
The S63 gets even better thanks to a new 4.0L engine.
The current-generation Mercedes-AMG S63 sedan has now been with us for four years, which means it's due for a mid-cycle update. As you'd expect, the S63's refresh includes a few new styling bits inside and out, but the real news is what's been changed beneath the surface.
What is it?The Mercedes-AMG S63 is the athlete of the S-Class lineup. It sits atop the normal S-Class models — the S450 and S560 — and just below the V12-powered S65. However, even though the S63 is down on power compared to the S65, it's actually faster and more nimble than its big brother. The S63 also has the advantage of all-wheel drive for better traction; the S65 is rear-drive only.
What's it up against?Buyers in the market for a hot rod limousine have quite a few choices these days. In addition to the S63, there are plenty of other like-minded vehicles in this general category, including the Porsche Panamera Turbo, Audi RS7 and BMW M760i xDrive. If you feel like going against the grain, you might also cross-shop the Lexus GS F, Jaguar XJR575 or the Aston Martin Rapide S.
What does it look like?Admittedly, not all that different from last year's S63. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. The S63 is a handsome vehicle and its styling has aged well over these past four years — it still looks like a thoroughly modern vehicle that could be coming for the 2019 model year.
That being said, there have been a few minor updates. Up front there's a new grille, revised lower bumper and new headlights with three LED strips. Those lines are intended to signify the S-Class' position atop the Mercedes sedan lineup — the E-Class has two LED strips and the C-Class has just one.
Inside, it's largely the same story. The S63's twin-12.3-inch LCD screens are now housed under one piece of glass instead of two and Mercedes ditched last year's cruise control stalk for more traditional buttons on the steering wheel.
And the inside?Despite its performance angle, the S63 still boasts one of the most luxurious interiors on the market. Materials and comfort are nothing short of world-class. Virtually every interior surface is covered in leather or Alcantara, and everything else is either real metal or wood. The attention to detail is also staggering, with beautiful quilting and accent stitching throughout the cabin.
Front-seat passengers are spoiled with super-comfortable multi-way adjustable seats that feature heating, cooling and several massage functions. Space is also generous with plenty of room for those well over the six-foot mark.
But as good as the front seats are, the back is really where you want to ride around. Our test car had a two-seat setup that made the rear of the S63 feel like a private jet. Adding to that feeling, both seats are power-adjustable and include a footrest and the softest headrest you'll ever experience in a car. And, of course, the rear thrones are also heated, cooled and feature several massage programs.
The passenger-side rear occupant further benefits from a fully reclining seat. Simply hit a button on the door panel and the front passenger's seat slides almost all the way to the dashboard, providing enough room for you to really stretch out.
If you need to get a little work done while on the move, both rear seats have airplane-style tables that tuck away in the center armrest. If you're off the clock, you can kickback and watch a movie on the S63's rear screens. And, if you get thirsty, you can grab a drink from the refrigerator located between the rear seats.
But does it go?The engineering masterminds at AMG have discovered a way to bend the laws of physics. The S63 is a massive vehicle with heavy reclining seats and a refrigerator in the back and yet somehow AMG's wizards managed to develop a drivetrain that can sling this luxo barge from 0-60 in just 3.4 seconds. That's faster to 60 than the AMG GT R sports car!
That performance comes courtesy of a new 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8. It's the same basic engine as you'd get in the GT R, but for the S63 AMG cranked up the wick to 603 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. Traction is aided by a new all-wheel drive system and the 2018 S63 uses the 4.0L engine's power more efficiently thanks to a nine-speed auto that replaces last year's seven-speed.
With all the dials cranked up to their most aggressive Sport+ settings, the S63 is an impressive driving machine. The AMG-tuned air suspension keeps everything flat, the steering is nicely weighted and the V8 responds instantly to any throttle inputs. Obviously, the S63 is too large to feel like a true sports car, but it really does feel much smaller than it is. If you could safely blindfold someone while driving, I honestly believe they'd think they were behind the wheel of a sporty GT car, not a mammoth luxury sedan.
But if you prefer a comfortable sedan, the S63 can do that too. Flip all the dials from Sport+ to Comfort and you can feel the S63 transform around you. The suspension softens, the steering goes light, the throttle relaxes and the machine gun exhaust note goes quiet. Of course you can shatter that serenity with a simple stab of the gas — not that we know anything about that.
Leftlane's bottom lineWith the 2018 refresh, Mercedes-AMG has managed to make the already bonkers S63 even more mental. The speed at which the S63 can accelerate is just mind boggling — a car this big and this luxurious just shouldn't be able to go from 0-60 in 3.4 seconds. But it does, and we couldn't be happier the 2018 S63 exists.
2018 Mercedes-AMG S63 Sedan base price, $147,500. As tested, $192,395.Designo Alanite Grey Magno, $3,950; Black exclusive Nappa leather, $4,450; AMG exterior night package; 20-inch wheels, $2,200; Red brake calipers, $700; Refrigerator rear console, $1,100; MAGIC SKY CONTROL, $4,950; Head-up display, $990; Heated windshield, $550; Night view assist PLUS, $2,260; Exclusive trim package, $950; Burmester sound system, $6,400; Rear seat package, $1,700; Executive rear seat package, $3,500; Executive rear seat package PLUS, $1,950; Warmth and comfort package, $2,600; Rear seat entertainment package, $2,650; Driver assistance package, $2,250; Destination, $995.
Photos by Drew Johnson.