- All-new model
- LWB only
- 4WD, 577hp
- 5.5L M157 V8 biturbo with 577hp, 664 lb-ft, 23.3mpg (est)
From the day he accepted the role of CEO in 2010, AMG's Ola Kallenius made it his goal to introduce 4WD to the AMG range. "It was obvious that as power and torque steadily increased, and our competitors from Audi, BMW and Porsche had 4WD, this was the only way forward," he said. "The current 4Matic system under development at the time was able to cope with the output from our AMG engines, so it was just a matter of strengthening a few components and calibrating the systems to suit our sportier characteristics."
The first AMG model to adopt this new philosophy was the CLA45 AMG, although in chronological terms, the E63 AMG 4Matic was first to market.
For the S63 application, AMG recalibrated the 4Matic hardware to give a 33/67% front/rear torque distribution. "This ratio best suits the handling balance of a RWD car as well as the torque capacity of the front diff," Kallenius said.
The 4Matic system adds 154 lb to the curb weight, but overall the new S63 is 220 lb lighter than the outgoing model. This is thanks to weight reduction measures on the W222 S-Class on which it's based, but can also be attributed to AMG-specific weight saving measures like forged wheels, lithium-ion battery, optional ceramic brakes and a carbon fiber spare wheel well, which saved 8.8 lb alone!
A sensible piece of rationalization means there's no longer a Performance Package for the S63 AMG. So its 5.5L V8 biturbo engine generates 577hp at 5800rpm and 664 lb-ft of torque from 2250-3750rpm. This is 74 lb-ft more than the Performance Package version of the E63 AMG in order to compensate for the greater weight of the flagship limousine. It can propel the 4398 lb limo from 0-60mph in an astonishing 3.9sec, and on to a limited 155mph top speed. And all for the inflation-adjusted price of around $139500.
The extra power (over the E63) comes from a remapped ECU that increases boost pressure to 19psi, with no over-boost facility. It also introduced more ignition advance at low revs for better response and efficiency.
"The transmission was beefed up to handle up to 740 lb-ft," Kallenius continued. "And because of the torque split, the 4Matic rear differential can be smaller. As a result, it's 13.2 lb lighter than the European RWD version. We also saved weight on the driveshafts, since they didn't need to be as large."
Although the S63 is fitted with 19x8.5" and 9.5" wheels with wide Pirelli P Zero tires, our test cars had the optional 20" wheels, which use Continental SportContact 5P rubber. However, the new wheel design features a cover over the bolts for improved aesthetics and reduced turbulence.
With its AMG front and rear bumpers, side skirts and the option of carbon or silver shadow trim packages, the S63 AMG looks more purposeful than its mainstream sibling. The aero package helps high-speed stability, but the larger air intakes and wheels take the 0.27 Cd of the S550L to 0.28 on the AMG.
We drove the 4Matic and also took the opportunity to ride in the back seat. Around town, even in Comfort mode, you quickly realize the AMG version is much firmer than the regular S-Class.
Where the S550 can glide over imperfections with state-of-the-art absorption, you feel every bump in the S63, which uses Airmatic suspension with AMG Ride Control. You also hear the deep, rumbling exhaust, especially in Sport mode when the exhaust flaps are open, making the car come alive.
From the back seat, the secondary ride feels restless and fidgety compared to the standard S-Class. So while AMG claims many of its S-Class customers in the US and China buy for price and status, if I were being chauffeured, I'd look for the comfort and serenity of the S550 since the Magic Body Control active suspension is only offered in RWD S-Class for some reason.
On the open road, however, the ride becomes smoother as you gain pace. The 4Matic system offers optimum grip in all situations, and you can use its massive wave of torque to fire the car out of bends like you were shot from a very large cannon.
After we had finished our photography in the Austrian mountains, a rainstorm blew across the area, so we were able to test the mettle of the 4Matic system properly. In the sodden conditions, the AWD gave us the confidence to overtake slow moving traffic at full throttle, reducing our exposure to danger in the process.
Fans of the S65 AMG V12 biturbo can rest easy: "Our biggest V12 customers are in the US and China, where this engine is the ultimate status symbol," Kallenius explained. "And we have no intention of changing anything on that car, so the new S65 isn't far away, although it will be rear-wheel drive only."
Until the S65 arrives in 2015, the S63 AMG is king of the Benz hill, adding all-weather capability to the amazing sports limo's already impressive resume. And while we've focused on the driving aspects of the new car, we shouldn't forget its optional hot-stone seat massagers, scent infusion, Collision Prevention, Pre-Safe Brake with Pedestrian Recognition, active parking, seven-color LED interior lighting, Night View assist, etc. In fact, it's one of the best-equipped cars in the world and has been available in US showrooms since late 2013.
- Smooth biturbo motor
- Benchmark in style and quality
- Many useful gadgets
- Awesome Burmester audio
- Supreme autobahn stormer
- Firmer suspension not as comfortable as the S550
- Ceramic brake option very expensive
2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4Matic
Layout front-engine, 4Matic AWD
Engine 5461cc V8 biturbo with direct fuel injection
Drivetrain AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speed transmission
Brakes 420mm rotors f, 360mm r, carbon-ceramic optional
Suspension four-link independent f, multi-link independent r, Airmatic air suspension, AMG Ride control electronic damping
Wheels & Tires 19x8.5" f, 19x9.5" r forged wheels, 255/45 ZR19 f, 285/40 ZR19 r Pirelli P Zero tires
Max power 577hp at 5500rpm
Max torque 664 lb-ft at 2250-3750rpm
Top Speed 155mph (limited)
Weight 4398 lb
Economy 23.3 mpg (estimated)