If I’m to be blunt, I think that this is one of the best cars on sale today. Admittedly, its starts at €196,000 – this particular example sitting at €235,595 with options. Even so, I actually think this car is good value. Bear with me.
What exactly is it? The full name is Mercedes S63 AMG cabriolet, and there’s a few elements here to dissect. Firstly, while straying from the conventional four-door saloon platform upon which the model built its legacy, this is unmistakably an S class. That means supreme comfort, supreme technology and everything else that the most prestigious letter in the Mercedes alphabet entails.
There’s cabriolet, which is a fancy way of saying convertible, and finally 63 AMG, which means, among many things, that it has the ability to make you smile like you’re seven-years-old.
Before you’ve even get in, the S63 makes an impression. Its proportions are near perfect – the domineering high shoulder line, perfect dash-to-axle ratio and muscular bonnet ridges give this car an unparalleled combination of presence and elegance. Even my mum, who is usually indifferent to whatever I’m driving, was pleasantly surprised by how handsome this car is.
While the blue fabric soft-top certainly ensures it doesn’t look overly compromised with the roof up, it’s with the top down that the S63 really comes into its own.
Inside, what with this being an S class, expectations are sky-high. While it lacks the hand-made feel that you get from a Bentley, this interior is top-notch. The front seats are more adjustable than a line of code, and the two large infotainment screens are seamlessly integrated into the dash such that they’re not overwhelmingly ‘future-in-your-face’ like the centre tablet in a Tesla might be.
But it’s the little things too; the way the knob for navigating the infotainment screen is weighted to feel heavier than the almost identical looking device on lesser Mercedes models. So even your palm is reminded of the S63’s place in the hierarchy.
My only complaint would be the carbon fibre interior trim – a €4,642 interior option on this car. It seems a bit out of place – I can’t help but think that optioning carbon fibre (usually used for weight-saving in stripped-out supercars) on a 2.2-ton land yacht like this is like buying The Palace of Versailles and then furnishing it from IKEA to minimise costs. The weight is a lost cause; indulge your eyes – have the wood.
Best feature? It has to be the car’s dual personality. Nowadays, with most major components being electronic and therefore adjustable, Mercedes can basically sell you two cars for the price of one very expensive one. In comfort mode, it is quiet, smooth and relaxing. It is high enough off the ground that you don’t have to stress over Limassol’s Alp-inspired speedbumps, and because it is so powerful it doesn’t have to strain to get anywhere.
Pop it in comfort mode on a warm summer night and cruise along marvelling at the way lines of interior LEDs soothingly illuminate the cabin. Confide in the impressively accurate lane-keep assist and sit back while you pump your favourite tunes through the bass-heavy ‘Burmester’ system. It’s a first-class experience. I have never driven a drop-top Rolls Royce, but the S63 in comfort mode does a fantastic impersonation of what I imagine it would be like.
Then, when the road clears and you’re feeling saucy, toggle the mode selector down through ‘Sport’ and into ‘Race’ mode. It is time to shine for the boffins from Affalterbach. The exhaust flaps open, the throttle response sharpens, the gearbox and chassis go into their angriest settings and the traction control system switches to Evel Knievel mode. Free from the shackles of invasive driver aids, the 4.0 twin-turbo V8 is nothing short of an engineering masterpiece.
The advantage of AMG using tweaked iterations of the same engine in most of their cars, is that they can spread out and justify huge research and development expenditure. The results are staggering. Lean on the throttle and watch the horsepower gauge fly up to the full 612 as everything around you starts to blur.
900nm of torque allow the S63 to gather pace like nothing this comfortable and heavy should. Further, thanks to some very clever engine packaging, there is pretty much zero turbo lag, so the throttle response is eager and instant. The power builds progressively with the noise and from the very beginning you’re hooked on the S63’s seemingly insatiable appetite for headbutting the horizon. This is one seriously fast hairdryer.
Decelerating is fun too, for while this new engine might not boast the vocal depth of the old 5.5, Mercedes have set it up to deliver a dramatic sequence of cracks and bangs as you either come off the gas or downshift. With the top down there are just a couple of unobstructed metres between the bombastic rear exhausts and your ears.
What’s more, because you can make it quiet again in comfort mode, you never get tired of the sound it like you might in a more specialised supercar.
A little sensationalist? Maybe. The S63 induces emotion in the way that a normal car simply does not. The car manages the complex feat of delivering high levels of comfort and composure, all the while offering performance that is quintessentially AMG.
Tragically, customers have struggled to look past the S63’s astronomic price tag. Up there, it faces competition from the likes of Aston Martin and, at a stretch, Bentley. While these cars are not as complete as the S63 is as a product, there is no doubt that they will command more attention as you drive along – a criterion unfortunately prioritised by the market.
Sales have been so slow, in fact, that the S63 cabriolet is actually going out of production indefinitely in June next year. Fortunately, this means you’ve still got a few months left to get your chequebooks out! Christmas present maybe? It’s certainly on my list.