When Mercedes redesigned the S-Class for 2014, it smoothed out the exterior design and then added a completely new interior that completely outclassed the BMW 7 Series. But while the S550 was pretty quick, the S63 AMG got a 577-hp V-8 that turned it into an absolute rocket. For 2018, Mercedes gave the S-Class a midcycle refresh that, at least at first glance, looks relatively minor. After testing the 2018 Mercedes-AMG S63, however, it’s clear that Mercedes did a lot more than tweak the options list. If the concept of an AMG-tuned full-size luxury sedan has your attention, then here are five things you need to know.
There is a replacement for displacement
The 2014 S63 used a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, but for 2018, AMG dropped that engine in favor of its ubiquitous 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8. On paper, that might look like a step backward, but you can’t argue with the power gains. The S63 now makes 603 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque, trumping the old V-8’s 577 hp even though it’s missing 1.5 liters of displacement. Isn’t modern engineering amazing?
It’s ridiculously quick
No car that weighs more than 5,000 pounds should be this quick. But thanks to its 603-hp engine, a new nine-speed transmission, and all-wheel drive, the new S63 managed to hit 60 mph in only 3.4 seconds. It also ran the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds at 121.5 mph. For comparison, the 2014 S63 hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and needed 12.1 seconds to run the quarter mile at only 115.5 mph. It wasn’t too long ago that those were supercar numbers.
You’re essentially buying two different cars
In Sport+ mode, the S63 sounds and feels every bit like an AMG. The rumbling exhaust roars every time you touch the accelerator pedal, popping and crackling every time you downshift. Punch it, and the car leaps forward, pressing you back into your seat. But put it in Comfort mode, and you might not even notice you’re in an AMG anymore. Everything gets quieter and softer, letting you relax in pure luxury. Sure, lots of cars offer different drive modes, but only a few can completely transform like this.
Luxury touches rival Rolls-Royce and Bentley
Traditionally, the S-Class’ rival has been the BMW 7 Series. Sit down in a new M760i, however, and you’ll quickly realize that’s no longer the case. Both cars are similarly quick, but the S63’s cabin feels like it’s in a different class altogether. From the interior design to the quality of the materials, and even the optional champagne fridge between the back seats, the S63 feels more like a Bentley Flying Spur or Rolls-Royce Ghost, especially when equipped with the Executive Rear Seat Package PLUS. It’s also quicker than either car and costs a good bit less.
It’s full of cutting-edge technology
The Mercedes-AMG S63 doesn’t offer the same kind of Level 3 autonomy found in the Audi A8 or Cadillac CT6, but it’s still brimming with technology. If the weather is clear, the S63’s combination of adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist allow it to do most of the steering on clearly marked highways. Drivers aren’t allowed to take their hands completely off the wheel for more than a brief time, but on long trips, it’s seriously helpful. With the tap of the signal stalk, the S63 is also capable of changing lanes on its own. And if you start to get tense, the seats offer multiple massage settings.