Short Take Road Test: 2008 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG
By Mark Gillies of Car and Driver
In the convoluted hierarchy that constitutes the Mercedes-Benz model lineup, the S63 AMG makes sense as the bargain performance version of the S-class topliner.
The S63 AMG runs 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and rips through the quarter-mile in 13.0 seconds at 110 mph, all for the comparatively low base price of $130,775. (Yes, and we do mean comparatively.) Against that, the twin-turbo V-12 S600 covers those benchmarks in 4.2 seconds and 12.6 seconds at 115 mph, but it costs $147,975. If that's not enough speed or money, the über-S-class, the S65 AMG, starts at $189,575, matches the S600's 0-to-60 time, and records a 12.4-second quarter-mile at 118 mph.
Of course, the S63 looks the part, with typically stylish AMG body modifications and gorgeous 20-inch wheels shod with suitably low-profile 35-series Pirelli P Zeros. Inside, it features a special AMG steering wheel with aluminum shifter paddles and heavily bolstered AMG sport seats. Alcantara and leather cover almost every surface, convincing occupants that the car costs money with a capital M.
The S63 sounds wonderful, too, thanks to the now ubiquitous AMG 6.2-liter V-8, which growls malevolently under hard throttle. It's not as swift as the S600 and S65 at covering 30-to-50- and 50-to-70-mph passing, but times of 2.7 and 3.4 seconds, respectively, are still obscenely quick. The sport-tuned suspension gives up some ride quality compared with the S600 and S550, but the upside is that one can make this big car dance in the twisties. Braking, too, is impressive, with the 70-to-0-mph stop taking 159 feet.
But no matter how well the S63 performs, there was this nagging question: Do we really need a sporty version of the planet's best luxury car? The S550 is so good and so capable that we kept thinking the raison d'être for the S63, other than as a profit center, is to show other Mercedes drivers that, well, you're even better off then they are. In this day and age, when too much is never enough, the S63 serves a useful function, as it also delights the stockholders and management of Daimler AG.